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Comparative negligence, premises liability defense

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2024 | Premises Liability Defense

If you own property in Oklahoma, you have a duty of care to keep visitors and guests safe. As a business owner, for example, if there’s a parking lot available for your customers, you must keep it adequately lit at night. If you have insufficient lighting, and someone trips and falls and suffers injury, he or she may try to hold you accountable for damages by filing a premises liability claim in court.

Even if you don’t own a business but do own property, the same rules apply. Perhaps you might invite guests to your home for a party. Someone trips on a broken step outside your front door. The person suffers from a bone fracture. This type of situation often leads to litigation. In any event, whether you own a business or not, if you own property, you’ll want to know how to defend yourself against a premises liability claim.

A premises liability defense strategy

Many people are partially (or fully) responsible for their own accidents and injuries. You should not be 100% liable for damages if the person who suffered injuries was culpable for damages as well. An example of this might be someone falling over a large and clearly visible object. If the court determines that the average person would have recognized a potential hazard and took steps to avoid it, then a comparative negligence ruling may apply.

Comparative negligence is a premises liability defense. It means that the plaintiff who filed the claim was, in fact, partially at-fault in the accident that caused injury. If someone files a claim against you or your business, and you can prove that he or she was negligent, the court might order a reduction of compensation to the plaintiff. If his or her negligence was greater than yours, the plaintiff might not collect damages at all.

Unjust claim settlements

Frivolous lawsuits or unjust claim settlements can drain the resources of even the most successful Oklahoma businesses. If you own a prominent business in your community, negative press regarding a case against you might damage your reputation, which, in turn, can affect your customer base. People tend to believe what they hear on TV or read in the news, even if it’s not true.

Protecting the bottom line is always a priority. It would be a grave mistake to walk into court not knowing your rights or understanding Oklahoma premises liability laws. Instead, it’s best to learn as much as you can ahead of time, so that you can build a strong defense and achieve the most positive outcome possible.