The Oklahoma City personal injury attorneys at Shelton Walkley Mackey have assisted many residents of Oklahoma County and its surrounding communities in recovering damages incurred in negligence suits, including cases involving premises liability. If you have been injured as a result of a hazardous condition existing on another person’s property, contact the premises liability attorneys at Shelton Walkley Mackey for a free case evaluation at (405) 605 -8800, or use the online case evaluation inquiry form on this page.What is Premises Liability?
The term “premises liability” is often referred to by non-lawyers as a “slip and fall” lawsuit. However, “premises liability” encompasses a much broader scope of injury cases beyond slips and falls. Specifically, the term describes a legal action in which a claimant who has been injured on someone else’s property alleges that the property owner failed to maintain their property in a condition such that an individual could reasonably avoid injury. While “slip and fall” cases (such as when a grocery store patron slips on a wet tile floor) fit under the umbrella of premises liability claims, there are a number of other circumstances under which a premises liability case may arise, including:
- A property owner, such as a parking garage operator or apartment owner, fails to provide adequate lighting or security on the premises, or to warn customers or residents of criminal activity in the area, and a customer is attacked;
- A property owner fails to keep stairs or stair rails in good repair, and a customer falls and gets injured;
- A property owner has a dangerous condition on his property, such as an open ditch, uneven pavement, or eroding soil, and fails to provide adequate safeguards to prevent falls and trips;
- A property owner does not trim heavy branches from a tree, or stores boxes too high on a shelf, and a branch or box falls and injures a passerby or visitor;
- A property owner keeps a vicious animal on his property without adequate restraints, and the animal injures a visitor or passerby;
- A property owner has installed a defective device that causes injury from normal and expected use, such as an elevator or escalator that malfunctions;
- A business owner fails to adequately train employees who have a duty to patrons or customers (such as daycare employees), or fails to check the background of an employee who has a history of violence and who commits an intentional violent act against another;
- A property owner fails to monitor or fence off a swimming pool to which children have easy access, and a child drowns; or
- Other unsafe property conditions.
Like all negligence cases, a valid claim for a premises liability case must meet the following general requirements:
- The property owner owes a duty of care to the injured party;
- The property owner breaches that duty;
- The breach causes an injury; and
- The injured party suffers real damages as a result of the breach.
As a general rule, the owner of property (or a business operator who leases property) has a legal duty to maintain his or her premises in a reasonably safe condition or, if that is not feasible, to provide adequate warning to the public of any known hazardous condition (such as when shop owners place “Wet Floor” pylons on the floor after mopping).
While not every case in which a person is injured on another’s property creates liability for the property owner, there are many instances in which liability does lie. One of the most critical elements in a premises liability cases is what the property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition. If there was no way for the owner to know of the hazard, then his failure to protect others from the hazard—no matter how dangerous or no matter how serious the injury is—may nevertheless be “reasonable.” Another important element is the status of the injured party: if the injured party is a trespasser—that is, they were not invited or welcome onto the property (such as a thief)—then the owner may also be protected from liability, depending upon the circumstances.
But if an injured party can show that the owner or operator either knew or should have known of an unreasonable hazard to the members of the public to which he owed a duty, and failed to adequately protect them from injury, he may have a valid claim. Even more, even if a property has taken some steps to prevent injury, it may still be possible to successfully make a premises liability claim if the injured party can show that the steps taken were inadequate or unreasonable under the circumstances.
If You Have Been Injured on the Property of Another, the Premises Liability Attorneys at Shelton Walkley Mackey Can Assist You
As you can gather, it is impossible to determine whether there is premises liability in a given case without a careful investigation and evaluation of all the facts. Each case is different, and some cases are more difficult to establish than others.
At Shelton Walkley Mackey, we provide attentive, responsive, and compassionate care to our clients, and we promise to give you an honest evaluation of your case. Our goal is to achieve the results that our clients want to achieve by thoroughly and conscientiously informing and advising them. If we agree to take your case, you can be confident that we will aggressively pursue a remedy for you, and that we will keep you informed every step of the way. If you have been injured as a result of an unsafe condition on another’s property, contact one of our Oklahoma premises liability lawyers today for a free consultation.