It sounded like a crash of lightning on a sunny day, claims an eyewitness, but this was no natural disaster, but rather a dangerous building strike.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a nail salon and a hair studio near 103rd and Memorial became the unexpected scene of chaos when an elderly woman experienced a medical episode behind the wheel in a business park. 2 News Oklahoma reports that instead of applying the brakes, she accidentally accelerated her vehicle, crashing into the front of the nail salon, through the lobby and into the shared wall with the Mather Hair Design studio. Todd Mather, the owner of the hair studio vividly recalls the harrowing moment when he heard a deafening crash while cutting hair. The impact caused his workstation to topple, prompting him and a client to swiftly evacuate.
Due to the medical episode and the absence of casualties in this incident, officers are reported to not be pressing charges against the driver. Even without criminal charges, though, it does not mean the driver cannot potentially be held liable through a civil claim.
Who is liable in a building strike crash in Tulsa?
A building strike crash occurs when a car or truck crashes into a building. Liability for building strike accidents (also known as “vehicle incursions”) usually falls to the drivers, but they aren’t the only ones. In certain cases, property owners may be held responsible as well. Let’s take a closer look at what a building strike crash is and the legal implications for both Tulsa property owners and individuals involved in the accident.
Driver liability in a building strike
In building strike accidents, the driver of the car that collides with the structure can be held primarily liable for resultant damages, if factors like distracted driving, recklessness, or impairment play any role in the incident. A driver can also be held liable if pedal confusion – the leading cause of incursion accidents – causes the driver to hit the gas instead of the brake.
Property owner liability for storefront crashes
In some cases, property owners may also bear responsibility for building strike accidents if pedestrians/customers in and around the building are also harmed. They have a legal obligation to maintain premises safely, including protecting pedestrians and the building. Neglecting this duty may result in premises liability for the property owner.
Determining property owner liability hinges on the concept of “foreseeability.” Property owners are expected to reasonably anticipate potential building strikes in specific areas, and take necessary safety measures to protect their customers. These precautions may encompass bollards, safety barriers, or other safeguards to prevent vehicles from reaching pedestrian walkways or the building.
Property owners owe a duty of care to their customers. This means that they should prioritize pedestrian safety by maintaining clear, hazard-free walkways, which includes adequate lighting and proper marking. If they fail to address these hazards, property owners can be held partially liable for any accidents that occur on premises.
Shared liability and comparative negligence
Oklahoma is a comparative negligence state, meaning building strike crash liability can be shared between the driver and property owner. If both the driver and property owner contribute to the crash and/or damages, your experienced attorney may pursue damages from both parties.
Building strike crash victims and their families have the legal right to seek compensation for various losses. Our Tulsa personal injury lawyers can explain more during your free consultation.
Who pays for the damage in a building strike accident?
Generally speaking the insurance companies would pay out these claims. For example, if the driver alone is liable, then we file a claim against his or her insurance policy. If the building owner is liable, then we file a claim with his or her commercial insurance. This is the reason people buy insurance – to protect us when something goes wrong and a loss is sustained. Barring any intentional acts (like a driver purposely plowing into a building or the pedestrians near it), an injury victim would seek compensation through the insurance policies.
Building cases are often complex and include multiple parties. More often than not, the insurance companies all point the finger at one another. It’s one reason why you really want a Tulsa car accident lawyer from Biby Law Firm on your side. The insurers are going to have teams of lawyers to protect their clients (and their profits); you deserve that same level of prepared representation for your interests too.
How common are building strike crashes?
Between 2014 and 2021 the United States saw an average of 100 building strike crashes occurring daily. These incidents resulted in approximately 16,000 injuries and 2,600 deaths every year as found in the Storefront Safety Council’s retrospective study. Notably, 24% of these crashes happened at retail stores, further emphasizing the urgent need for property owners to increase safety measures to protect their customers.
What injuries to passengers or pedestrians occur in building strike crashes?
These types of accidents can involve injuries to pedestrians and/or passengers of the crashed car, leading to bodily harm or even death. Among the more serious injuries are:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): Passengers in building strike crashes may experience TBIs due to whiplash or head impact, impacting cognitive function, memory, and motor skills over a lifetime.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs): Building strike crashes, marked by sudden and forceful impact, have the potential to inflict severe spinal cord injuries. These injuries often lead to life-long mobility challenges or death.
- Crushing injuries: Pedestrians pinned against buildings may suffer blunt force trauma to vital organs, leading to internal bleeding, organ rupture, and other life-threatening conditions.
If you have been injured in a Tulsa building strike crash you likely are looking at potentially lifelong ramifications. Compensation for these cases usually includes medical bills, property damage, lost income, pain and suffering and other related expenses. The awarded amount varies based on injury severity, property damage, and life impact, but the experienced pedestrian injury lawyers at Biby Law Firm will seek to hold all liable parties fully responsible for their part in your or your family member’s injuries or wrongful death.
Please see our testimonials and read how the team at Biby Law Firm has supported our Tulsa community in the pursuit of justice after a building strike accident.
Trust Biby Law Firm to provide dedicated legal assistance through evidence collection, liability assessment, insurance negotiations, and courtroom representation when needed. Call or contact us today in Tulsa.
Jacob Biby has spent his legal career helping folks just like you get the resources they need after a personal injury, car accident, or oil field injury. He completed his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State University and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 2008. Jacob is licensed to practice in all Oklahoma state and federal courts. Learn more about Jacob Biby.