In Oklahoma, you may obtain compensation from a party that started a fire that damaged your home or land. If you were injured by the fire, you may also sue for compensation for your personal injuries. I am a Fire Injury Attorney in Oklahoma, and below, I will explain how you can obtain compensation for the damage to your home and to your land.
Negligent Actors cause Fires in Oklahoma
Oklahoma is part of the great plains, and has a history of wild fire damage. Farmers and ranchers know to beware of the spread of fire from one land to another.
There are many causes of destructive fires that damages homes and lands, and most often the cause is mismanagement of a controlled burn. A controlled burn is a legal method of burning brush, debri, and other material on one’s land. Oklahoma law does allow landowners, tenants, and agents, to burn material on land. However, the person conducting the burn must take proper safety precautions to ensure the fire does not spread.
Oklahoma has certain laws that govern burn activities on Land
In Oklahoma, a person must first have authority to burn on the land. Therefore, the person must be the owner, a tenant, or an authorized agent, such as an employee or contractor of the owner or tenant.
Next, the person should notify the fire department that he or she intends to conduct a controlled burn on the land. The Forrest Services Division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture highly recommends this communication with local fire departments.
In addition, any person conducting a controlled burn should have adequate resources on hand to control the fire, and put it out if necessary. If a person does not take such reasonable precautions, there is authority to hold the person strictly liable for any damages that results.
Controlled Burn vs. Prescribed Burn
Oklahoma law describes two different types of legally conducted burns on one’s land. The first is a Controlled Burn, which is any legally conducted burning of land cover.
The second is a Prescribed Burn, which is a controlled burn conducted under specific process described in Title 2, Okla State § 16-28.2.
The purpose of the Prescribed Burn statutes is to limit the liability of the person conducting the burn. Essentially, the law is prescribing safety precautions for the person to take, and if those safety precautions are taken, the person may be able to escape or lessen liability for any damage that occurs later on.
The procedure for a Prescribed Burn requires the person conducted the fire to do the following:
- Conduct the burn in a lawful manner;
- Notify all adjoining landowners within 60 days prior to conducting the controlled burn;
- Complete a Notification Plan and file the plan with the fire department that is closest to the proposed burn site. IF the land is in a protected area of the Forestry Services Division, then the Notification Plan must also be provided to the local Forestry Services division office or representative;
- Contact the Fire Department receiving the notification plan within 48 hours of conducting the Prescribed Burn.
Any person who plans to conduct a controlled burn on Oklahoma land should follow the above process.
Other Types of Incidents that cause Fire Damage in Oklahoma
In addition to ranchers conducting controlled burns, there are other types of incidents that can cause large fires and destruction. Improper design and construction of power lines and transmission lines can lead to the electrical lines coming in contact with each other. When lines contact, the electrical surge causes sparks and can start a fire.
Improper maintenance of the growth of trees and branches near lines can also start fires. Utility companies must continue to maintain the areas surrounding electrical lines to ensure that trees do not grow into the lines. Additionally, utility companies and electrical contractors must take measures to avoid “line slap,” which happens when lines collide. This collision can also cause sparks, which can cause grass fires that can grow out of control, especially during dry seasons.
How to Obtain Compensation for Fire Damage in Oklahoma
First, you must determine the cause and origin of the fire that caused damage to your home, land, or other property. In order to do this, you will need to hire a Cause and Origination Expert. These are individuals with training and expertise in how fires originate and spread. Insurance companies will hire these types of experts to investigate fire claims.
As an attorney who represents victims of fire damage, I will also hire my own experts to investigate the cause and origin of the fire. Additionally, we may need to hire electrical engineers or other experts, depending on the type of fire that was started in your case. In any event, we must be able to clearly prove how the fire was started in order to prove who was liable for starting it.
Fire damage cases can be very complex, and it is best if we can get our experts on the ground as soon as possible after the fire. Being able to investigate the evidence immediately after the fire will give us an advantage in your case.
How to assess the proper amount of compensation for Fire Damage in Oklahoma
If you have been personally injured by a fire, we can absolutely help you. However, we can also help you if your injury is to your land and property. If that is the case, here is how Oklahoma law allows you to calculate your damages.
Oklahoma case law divides injuries to land into two categories: Temporary and Permanent.
If your land can be repaired, and the costs to repair are less than the overall value of the land, the injury is considered Temporary Damage. However, if the costs to repair or restore the land are greater than the value of the land itself, the injury is considered Permanent.
In any type of case that involves damage to your home or to your land, you may also recover attorney fees in addition to the damage compensation.
Hire a Fire Damage Attorney to get compensation for you
If your home or land has been damaged by a fire that another person started, contact us for help. You can send us an email or call us at 405-701-6016.
After talking to you, we will start the process by investigating the cause and origin of the fire. We will then retain experts to appraise your home and land, as well as the damage that was caused by the fire. Once we have evidence of who started the fire, and how much damaged they caused, we will bring a claim against that person, either by contacting their insurance company or filing a lawsuit in the county where the fire occurred.
Once we have a lawsuit underway, we will conduct a thorough discovery of the case by subpoenaing any and all documentary evidence, photographs, and opposing expert testimony. We will review all of the evidence with our own experts to build a strong case for you.
We have been very successful in representing Oklahoma landowners like you in recovering compensation for damaged land. If you would like to get started, contact us now.