It’s an occurrence that takes place in stores and restaurants across Oklahoma just about every day. A customer slips on a puddle of grease from a deep fryer at a fast food franchise, or the juice leaking from a broken carton at a grocery store, sustaining a serious slip and fall injury in the process.
If you or one of your family members was injured in a slip and fall accident in Oklahoma City or the surrounding area, you may be able to get compensated for your medical bills and other losses by filing a claim or lawsuit against the negligent party. However, it depends on how and why the accident took place.
Free Legal Consultation with Oklahoma City Slip and Fall Lawyers
This article will help explain when businesses are liable, called premises liability, for customer slip and fall injuries in Oklahoma. However, only by reviewing your accident with an experienced personal injury attorney will you know if you have a claim.
For a free legal consultation, call the Oklahoma slip and fall lawyers of Hasbrook & Hasbrook at (405) 698-3040. Our friendly and knowledgeable legal team combines over 75 years of experience helping injury victims recover the compensation they deserve. We are aggressive attorneys handling personal injury claims in Oklahoma City, Shawnee, El Reno, Guthrie, Tuttle, Moore, Norman, Edmond, and more.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents in Oklahoma Shops and Restaurants
Unfortunately, accidental falls are a major source of fatalities and disabling injuries in Oklahoma. Part of the reason falls are so common is that they have so many different causes, including:
- Debris or clutter on the floor.
- Dim, inadequate lighting.
- Lack of warning signs around leaks, puddles, or freshly waxed floors.
- Loose carpets, cords, wires, and cables that haven’t been secured properly.
- Loose or broken flooring.
- Potholes in parking lots.
- Spills, puddles, and leaks.
All types of people are vulnerable to slip and fall accidents, because they can occur in virtually any setting. Some common locations for accidental falls include:
- Amusement Parks
- Department Stores
- Grocery Stores
- Hair Salons
- Outlet Shops
- Water Parks
Falls can cause serious injuries to victims in all age groups, but elderly adults are particularly vulnerable. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, over 95% of all hip fractures suffered by adults aged 65 and older are caused by falls. The CDC also reports falls as a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), causing about 40% of TBI cases from 2006 to 2010. Other common slip and fall injuries include:
- Back Injuries
- Broken Bones
- Facial Injuries
- Hand and Wrist Injuries
- Neck Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
- Sprains and Strains
Falls from heights, such as falling over a defective safety railing or escalator, are also a serious risk for catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.
What Does the Victim Have to Prove to Get Injury Compensation?
In a personal injury case, the plaintiff has the burden of proof. This means the plaintiff is responsible for proving that the defendant engaged in the conduct being alleged, resulting in negative consequences for the victim.
Proving the defendant’s negligence lies at the core of every case. Negligence is a legal term that means the defendant failed to exercise due care in order to avoid a preventable, foreseeable death or injury. There are four elements of negligence that must be proven by the plaintiff:
- A duty of care. First, the plaintiff needs to prove the defendant owed him or her a duty of care, which is an obligation to meet a certain standard of caution. For example, store owners owe shoppers a duty of care.
- A breach of the duty of care. Next, it must be proven that defendant breached (violated) their duty of care. In slip and fall cases, breach of duty often lies in lack of maintenance, or inadequate maintenance, which can create major trip hazards for unsuspecting customers.
- Causation. Third, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions — or in some cases, the defendant’s failure to take action — was what caused the plaintiff to have an otherwise preventable slip and fall accident. There are two types of causation: actual cause, which is an accident’s literal cause (e.g. a puddle on the floor), and proximate cause, which is an accident’s indirect or underlying cause (e.g. negligent maintenance).
- Damages. Not all accidents cause harm, even if they occurred because of negligence. The plaintiff must prove that the accident actually resulted in damages in order to recover compensation.
There are several types of damages recoverable in a slip and fall case, all subject to different limits called “damages caps”:
- Economic Damages — Includes current and anticipated financial losses, such as medical bills and lost income. Oklahoma does not cap economic damages.
- Non-Economic Damages — Compensation for harm that is physical and/or emotional in nature, like the victim’s pain and suffering. Oklahoma caps non-economic damages at $350,000.
- Punitive Damages — Sometimes awarded in cases where the defendant engaged in extreme, egregious misconduct. May be capped at $100,000, at $500,000, or not be capped at all, depending on the situation.
If you, your parent, your child, or your spouse slipped and fell at a store or restaurant in Oklahoma City, your family could be entitled to compensation for the resulting medical expenses and other hardships. To learn more in a free legal consultation, call the Oklahoma premises liability attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook at (405) 698-3040 today.