Get Answers to Your Oklahoma Legal Issue Here. Accident, Injury, Malpractice, Family Law, Criminal Law, and Insurance Claim Questions

Our attorneys want you to be as educated as possible about the legal issues you are facing.  On our FAQ page, you can find answers on car crashes, medical malpractice, truck wrecks, child injuries, child custody, criminal law, and wrongful death. See also FAQ's, BLOG, LIBRARY, VIDEOS, OFFERS.

  • Page 1
  • What is Open and Obvious and how does it affect my slip and fall case?

    Personal Injury Lawyer - Proving Your Case.  What is Open and Obvious?

    A premises owner owes a duty to his invitees only to keep the premises reasonably safe.  Williams v. Safeway Stores, Inc., 515 P.2d 223 (Okla. 1973).  The invitee assumes all normal and ordinary risks incident to the use of the premises.  Wise v. Roger Givens, Inc., 618 P.2d 951 (Okla.App. 1980).  The duty to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition is applicable only to defects or conditions which are in the nature of hidden dangers, traps, snares or pitfalls and the like which are not readily observable by the invitee in the exercise of ordinary care. See McKinney v. Harrington, 855 P.2d 602 (Okla. 1993);

    Under Oklahoma law it is not a question of whether some object is open and obvious, but whether the hazard or danger is open and obvious. An “observable” object or condition is not necessarily obvious: “All of the circumstances must be examined to determine whether a particular condition is open and obvious to the plaintiff or not.” Zagal v. Truckstops Corp. of America., 1997 OK 75, 948 P.2d 273, 275 (when customer tripped over large cardboard box near truckstop entrance, reasonable minds could differ as to whether it was a “concealed danger”).

  • Can I proceed under both Respondeat superior and negligent hiring causes of action?

    Personal Injury Lawyer - Proving your case. Can I proceed under both respondeat superior and negligent hiring causes of action?

    Oklahoma recognizes a cause of action for negligent hiring and retention. See Mistletoe Express Service, Inc. v. Culp, 353 P.2d 9 (Okla. 1960).  However, the doctrine of respondeat superior provides a vehicle to hold an employer liable for the intentional acts of its employee's.  In the case of Jordan v. Cates, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held that when an employer stipulates that the incident in question occurred during the employee’s employment and that the employer would stand liable for damages under the respondeat superior theory, if the employee was found liable, then any cause of action for negligent hiring and/or retention, should not stand.  Jordan v. Cates, 935 P.2d 289 (Okla. 1997).  The rationale behind the Court’s ruling was that the Plaintiff, under the doctrine of respondeat superior, was entitled to collect the damages suffered from the Defendant.  Therefore, there was no need for the advancement of an alternative theory of recovery and the lower court’s dismissal of the negligence action was proper.

    In Jordan, the Plaintiff sued on a respondeat superior and a negligent theory in an intentional assault and battery case.  The employer stipulated that the employee was acting within the scope of his employment and then filed a Motion in Limine to exclude evidence of the employee’s past conduct.  The District Court granted the Motion in Limine and gave the employer summary judgment on the negligent hiring claim.  The Court of Civil Appeals for the State of Oklahoma reversed the trial Court’s ruling and was of the opinion that respondeat superior and negligent hiring were independent sources of liability against the employer and that  evidence of the employee’s past conduct should have been admitted.  The Supreme Court of Oklahoma vacated the Court of Appeals decision and held that when the employer stipulates that liability, if any, to be applicable under respondeat superior, then any other alternative legal theory to hold the employer liable for the conduct of that employee is “unnecessary and superfluous.”  Jordan, at 293.

  • What is respondeat superior and how does it affect my personal injury case?

    The doctrine of respondeat superior works to hold an employer liable for the intentional acts of its employee's.  In the case of Jordan v. Cates, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held that when an employer stipulates that the incident in question occurred during the employee’s employment the employer would stand liable for damages under the respondeat superior   The rationale behind the Court’s ruling was that the Plaintiff, under the doctrine of respondeat superior, was entitled to collect the damages suffered from the Defendant. 

     

  • What is causation and damages in a personal injury case?

    Personal Injury Lawyer - Proving your case.  What is causation and damages in a personal injury case?

    In order to establish a case for negligence four elements must be shown: a duty, a breach of that duty, causation, and resulting damages. “A plaintiff in a negligence action is required to adduce evidence showing there was a negligent act on the part of the defendant and that such act was the cause of the plaintiff’s injury.  To be negligent, the defendant’s breach of duty must be related to the cause of the underlying accident and the resulting damage.” 65 C.J.S. Negligence § 189 (2005).  Similarly in Larrimore v. American National Ins. Co., 184 Okla. 614, 617 (1939), the Oklahoma Supreme Court said, “[T]he evidence, to justify a finding of negligence, must show a breach of duty on the part of the defendant, such that a reasonable person should have foreseen would as a ‘natural consequence’ cause an injury.” See also Chicago R.I. & P. Ry. Co. v. Nagle, 55 Okla. 235. 

  • When is a medical expert needed to prove causation in a personal injury case?

    Personal Injury Lawyer - Proving your case through medical experts.

    In cases where the injuries complained of are of a complex nature and are not readily objective in nature, a Plaintiff must present evidence through a skilled professional so as to provide a causal connection between the injury complained of and the accident in question.  See Reed v. Scott, 820 P.2d 445 (Okla. 1991); Matchen v. Mcgahey, 445 P.2d 52, 57 (Okla. 1969). An expert’s testimony must show that the accident in question was the probable cause of injury.  Testimony showing that a specific accident was possibly the cause of an injury is not enough to show causation. 

    In Cohenour v. Smart, 240 P.2d 91, 93 (Okla. 1951), the Oklahoma Supreme Court explained:

    Testimony as to possibility is said to mean testimony in which the witness asserts that the accident or injury ‘may have’ or ‘could have’ caused, or ‘possibly did’ cause the subsequent physical condition, or that a given physical condition ‘might have’, ‘may have’ or ‘could have’ caused, or ‘possibly did’ result from a previous accident or injury – testimony, that is, which is confined to words indicating the possibility or chance of the existence of the causal relation in question, and which does not include words indicating the probability or likelihood of its existence.

                                    

    Cohenour, at 93.  The Supreme Court went on to explain that, “[W]here the evidence of the plaintiff does not show by expert testimony and all the surrounding facts and circumstances that the injury could have been caused by and was the probable result of the accident, then the plaintiff has not established sufficient facts to make out a cause of action.”  Id.  The Court concludes that expert testimony must show that an injury was definitely the cause of a certain accident.  If the expert testimony only shows that there is a possibility that a plaintiff’s injuries might have been caused by the accident at issue, then that testimony is not enough to prove causation.  In reaching their conclusion, the Court cites Hunt v. Armour & Co., 136 S.W. 2d 312:

    It is now settled that, in matters where the evidence does not exclude all other causes and in which no layman could know or have any reasonable basis for an inference as to cause, opinions of doctors that a certain occurrence or condition might, could, or would produce a certain result is no more than an assurance that such a result was scientifically possible, and does not alone constitute substantial evidence that such occurrence or condition did cause it.

  • What is a Motion for Summary Judgement

    A Motion for Summary Judgement (sometimes called an “MSJ”) is a request for the court to rule that the other party has no case, because there are no facts at issue. The party making the motion is claiming that either the case should not go before a jury at all, or a jury could only rule in favor of the moving party.

    In order to win an MSJ, the moving party must show that:

    • there are no facts which can reasonably be disputed; or
    • anyone looking at the facts and applying law would rule in favor of the moving party.

    Although either plaintiff or defendant is allowed to make this kind of motion, in a personal injury case MSJs are most often brought by the defendant. In a personal injury case, for example, a defendant’s MSJ will usually argue that the defendant had no duty toward the plaintiff (the existence of a legal duty is a key element of “negligence,” which forms the basis of liability in most injury cases). An MSJ might also be based on lack of evidence, so that even if the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff, there is no proof that the duty was breached or that the breach caused the injury.  If an MSJ is granted, the case is closed with regard to the moving party.

  • What is the Standard of Review for a Motion for Summary Judgement

    A Motion for Summary Judgement (sometimes called an “MSJ”) is a request for the court to rule that the other party has no case, because there are no facts at issue. The party making the motion is claiming that either the case should not go before a jury at all, or a jury could only rule in favor of the moving party.

    In order to win an MSJ, the moving party must show that:

    • there are no facts which can reasonably be disputed; or
    • anyone looking at the facts and applying law would rule in favor of the moving party.

    Although either plaintiff or defendant is allowed to make this kind of motion, in a personal injury case MSJs are most often brought by the defendant. In a personal injury case, for example, a defendant’s MSJ will usually argue that the defendant had no duty toward the plaintiff (the existence of a legal duty is a key element of “negligence,” which forms the basis of liability in most injury cases). An MSJ might also be based on lack of evidence, so that even if the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff, there is no proof that the duty was breached or that the breach caused the injury.  If an MSJ is granted, the case is closed with regard to the moving party.

    Summary judgment is appropriate if the pleadings, affidavits, depositions and other evidence on file “show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment “as a matter of law.”  See Rules for the District Courts of Oklahoma, Rule 13; Shulty v. Apache Corp., 814 P.2d 469, 471 (Okla. 1991); RST Service Mfg., Inc. v. Mussel Hite, 628 P.2d 366, 368 (Okla. 1981).  Further, a party opposing a motion for summary judgment must demonstrate clearly and with specificity that controverted facts exist.  Howe v. Ballard, 801 P.2d 127, 130 (Okla. 1990); Weeks v. Wedgwood Village, 554 P.2d 780, 784 (Okla. 1976).  When considering a Motion for Summary Judgment, a Court must view all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.  Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).  However, only genuine disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the case under the governing substantive law preclude the entry of summary judgment.  Id. at 248.  “[A] trial judge must bear in mind the actual quantum and quality of proof necessary to support liability” and must determine whether the proffered evidence is sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to find liability.  Id. at 254.  If the evidence leads to only one reasonable conclusion, summary judgment is proper. Id. at 250. 

                A party’s failure to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of his case renders all other facts immaterial.  Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Palermo v. First Nat’l Bank & Trust Co., 894 F.2d 363, 367 (10th Cir. 1990).  “Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to the party’s case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.”  Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.  A movant need only point out that there is an absence of evidence to support an essential element of the non-moving party’s case.  Id. at 325.  Then, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and set forth specific facts demonstrating that there is a triable issue.  Id. at 324; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).

  • Will i go to jail?

    If you have arrived at this question after asking yourself "Will I go to jail" you need to know that there is hope.

    For most people, this is the scariest question. The good news is that for most people, the answer is no. If you are facing a misdemeanor or a non violent felony and you don’t have a long criminal record, you likely will not go to jail. However, there is always that risk. Also, because your final sentence is up the judge, there are no guarantees.  You should never be under the false impression that you have no defense and should just confess without an attorney.  You should never give a statements or information to law enforcement without first speaking to an attorney.  The criminal procedure world is filled with complex procedure and nuisances that could impact you for the rest of you life.  It is imperative that you educate yourself with the most criminal procedure and law you possible can and get the best quality legal advice and representation.

    Also, most first time offenders are offered deals that sound really enticing (no jail time and the worry is over).  These are called suspended or deferred sentences.  They sound really good, but the long term risks are very substantial.  For instance, if one little requirement is not met (not paying fees on time, late checking in with probation officer, or getting charged with another crime) the the state will move to revoke that sentence and you could then be placed in jail for the remainder of the term.  Before you take a plea deal, please speak with a criminal defense attorney that will take the time to discuss your case and educate you on the pitfalls, risks, and benefits of suspended and deferred sentences.

    Lastly, if you are in a situation where you see no hope in your defense, you might be very surprised as what can be done for your case.  Criminal law, procedure and rules of evidence are very complex and the state must prove your guilt beyond all reasonable doubt and the verdict must be unanimous.  That presents an incredible burden for the state (even with the high levels of juror biased and the common perception of "guilty until proven innocent") there are many many cases that receive not-guilty jury verdicts - so don't give up hope and get your self the right criminal defense attorney for you and your case.

    Continue reading about Oklahoma criminal defense law here, click here to contact us, or click here to learn more about our Oklahoma criminal defense attorneys.

  • What's the difference between probation and parole?

    Probation is a type of criminal sentence that allows a person to stay in the community rather than serve time in prison, as long as certain conditions are compliedd with, such as regularly reporting to a probation officer, refraining from alcohol and drugs and not committing further crimes. Parole is the supervised release of a prisoner from incarceration into the community before the end of his or her sentence. Conditions of parole are similar to those of probation.

    Read more about our team, or continue reading and researching our free legal information.

  • What is white collar crime?

    White collar crime generally refers to nonviolent financial crimes involving fraud or other dishonesty committed in business or commercial contexts. Examples include insider trading, embezzlement and tax evasion.

    Learn more about criminal law here.