Property owners have a legal obligation to maintain their property so it is reasonably safe for all visitors or guests. When a property owner fails to keep the property adequately maintained, others may be put in harm’s way. Accidents that occur on a commercial property, public property, private property or at a personal residence are classified by law as premises liability accidents. The most common types of premises liability accidents in the state of Oklahoma are as follows:
A slip-and-fall accident occurs when an individual inadvertently steps onto a slippery walking surface and loses his or her footing, causing the individual to fall to the ground. Slip-and-fall accidents are generally caused by wet or slippery floors, icy walkways, leaky pipes, spilled food or drinks on the floor or other similar situations. According to statistical reports from the National Safety Council, close to 9 million people visit emergency rooms every year as a result of an accidental fall.
Common locations where slip-and-fall accidents occur in our state include shopping malls, restaurants, driveways, sidewalks and parking lots. Injuries sustained in these accidents range from bruises and torn ligaments to broken bones. Slip-and-fall accidents also frequently result in neck and head injuries. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries in Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. More than 10,000 people suffered traumatic brain injuries in falls in a six-year period, accounting for more than a third of all traumatic brain injuries. People aged 65 and older were the most common victims of traumatic brain injuries.
Store owners who fail to put up “wet floor” signs to warn customers or allow a dangerous situation to remain unresolved may be held liable if a customer slips and falls. The same is true of property owners who fail to maintain the property, fix leaky pipes in a timely fashion or remove potential hazards. In these cases, it is the property owner’s responsibility to do what is necessary to remove slip-and-fall dangers, or at the least, to warn visitors of the potential risk.
Trip-and-fall accidents are generally caused by obstacles in an area in which people walk. This type of premises liability accident most commonly occurs outside of businesses, on city sidewalks and streets, on school properties and playgrounds, as well as inside cluttered hallways. Hazards left in any area in which people walk can lead to serious or deadly trip and fall injuries.
Uneven sidewalks or walkways, unmarked steps, improperly maintained stairways, torn or raised carpets or tiles, pavement defects, exposed cables and wires, debris and other objects stacked on the floor are all capable of causing serious injuries. Injuries from a trip-and-fall accident are usually similar to those suffered by slip-and-fall victims, with a primary difference being that a trip-and-fall victim will usually fall forward, while a slip-and-fall victim typically falls backwards.
When a building or residence has inadequate security, or its security staff is negligent in their duties, it is not uncommon to see a rise in criminal activity. Assaults and robberies are among the crimes that take place when security is lacking. Criminals look for the best opportunity to commit crimes. Owners of stores and buildings that have insufficient lighting or security in place are exposing their customers, tenants, visitors and guests to risk of harm.
Parking lots, hotels, apartment complexes, shopping malls, schools, hospitals and convenience stores are some of the common locations where premises liability cases involving security failures take place. If you or a loved one has been injured or suffered any losses as a result of inadequate security, the store owner, property owner or business owner who failed to keep the area secure could be held legally and financially liable for the damages, including injuries or losses sustained by an assault or robbery victim.
The majority of dog bites and other injuries caused by vicious animal attacks occur in the family’s home or yard, at dog parks and when a dog escapes from its owner or enclosure.
The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Approximately 800,000 seek treatment, and about half of the dog bite victims needing medical treatment are children. Injuries from this type of attack can range from scratches and minor puncture wounds to nerve damage and permanent scarring. In severe cases, infections or bite wounds are fatal. Many dog bite victims will suffer long-term emotional damage.
In Oklahoma, a dog owner is liable for any injuries his or her dog may cause to another person who is legally in the location where the bite or attack occurred. As long as the animal was not provoked, any bites or injuries sustained will be the responsibility of the dog’s owner.
Let us say, for example, you have guests over for a cook out. If you fail to secure your dog in a location where it cannot get loose, and the dog bites one of your guests, you can be held liable. If an individual trespasses on your property and your dog then attacks and bites that individual, the circumstances of the incident will determine whether you will be held liable. The owner of a dangerous dog must register and enclose the dog except when out on a leash with a muzzle.
Adequate lighting allows us to see where we are going and to avoid any potential obstacles or hazards on the walking surface. If a property owner, construction foreman or business owner fails to keep the property well-lit, people can get hurt. Liability for accidents stemming from inadequate or poor lighting usually rests squarely on the owner’s shoulders.
These types of accidents can occur as a result of a storeowner’s neglect, a construction site foreman’s desire to cut costs or a property owner’s interest in maintaining a certain decor rather than keeping residents safe. Offices, stairways, hallways, parking lots, walkways, pool areas and sites under construction are all places where poor or inadequate lighting could result in a serious accident or wrongful death. The most common injuries sustained in these types of accidents are cuts, scrapes, lacerations and broken bones. Neck, back and head trauma are also common, often leading to the need for long-term care or treatment.
Statistics gathered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) show that close to 6.5 million people work on construction sites every day. Construction workers face a number of hazards and risks. The majority of construction site injuries come as a result of falls from heights, scaffolding collapses, electric shock, falling objects, a lack of or failure to use proper protective gear, defective equipment, exposure to toxic chemicals and jobs requiring repetitive motion. Injuries from these types of accidents include lacerations, burns, broken bones, loss of limbs, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, blindness or traumatic brain injuries, or death.
Each construction company has a responsibility to uphold certain safety standards and comply with regulations. It is the company’s owners, managers and staff who must be held responsible for maintaining a safe and secure working environment. Failure to enforce OSHA regulations increases the chances of workers being involved in serious or life-threatening construction site accidents.
Elevator and escalator accidents are most often seen in heavily populated cities and metropolitan areas. Skyscrapers, shopping malls, apartment complexes, hotels, airports and other buildings with multiple floors are where these types of accidents occur. In many instances, injuries from an elevator or escalator accident can be traced back to contractor negligence, building owner carelessness and other failures to maintain public safety standards.
Elevators and escalators stopping suddenly or speeding up without warning are capable of causing serious injury or death. If an elevator accident is caused by defective sensors or malfunctioning equipment, any number of individuals could be held liable for injuries or loss. It could be the manufacturer who built the elevator, the contractor who oversaw its installation or the property owner who failed to properly maintain the elevator. Inadequate lighting or slippery surfaces can also cause accidents and injuries to occur.
Depending on the circumstance of the accident, an elevator or escalator accident victim could sustain lacerations, fractures, back or neck trauma, head injuries and more. As with other types of premises liability accidents, when injury and loss occurs due to property owner negligence, the responsible party must be held liable for his or her negligence or neglect.
The CDC reports there are approximately ten fatalities every day from unintentional drowning. While not all of these occur in swimming pools, swimming pools do present a serious risk to children and adults alike. Oklahoma has an estimated 9,000 residential and commercial swimming pools, according to the Oklahoma Department of Health. Failure to provide adequate supervision, failure to establish a proper barrier around the pool, lack of swimming ability, and alcohol intoxication are some of the most common reasons these accidents occur.
Swimming pools accidents are most commonly seen at a personal residence, hotel, apartment complex or publicly owned and operated swimming facility. If the surface around a swimming pool becomes extremely slippery when wet, it could be that an improper surface was installed. Homeowners who have failed to install security fences around a pool as required by law could leave themselves open to premises liability claims if an injury accident takes place. Hotel guests generally expect lifeguards, adequate warning signs and other safety measures to be in place in the pool area. When a hotel owner or manager fails to keep gates and fences in good condition, or post warning signs to keep guests and visitors safe, a guest could suffer a serious or catastrophic injury.
The most commonly reported injuries from swimming pool accidents include head, back and neck injuries from poolside falls, diving board injuries, brain injuries as a result of a near drowning and death.
Individuals who have suffered an injury as a result of some form of negligence on the part of the property’s owner, landlord or management staff may be eligible to pursue damages with help from an Oklahoma City premises liability attorney.
Our firm has more than 130 years of combined legal experience. We represent the injured in all types of premises liability cases. We understand the pain and suffering and devastation victims can suffer and we are committed to doing everything possible legally to assist you to maximize your claim and pursue the damages you are rightfully owed. Contact Burch, George & Germany now for assistance.