On April 13, 2012, a tornado ripped through Norman, Oklahoma, injuring 10 people and marking the start of what is expected to be an eventful storm season.
Thankfully, the victims of the April 13 storm only sustained relatively minor injuries. However, it is important to realize that the threat of injury is not over simply because the storm has passed. A number of safety hazards are present in the aftermath of a severe storm, some of which can form the grounds for an Oklahoma personal injury lawsuit.
After a storm, it is important to take steps to protect ourselves, our families and our neighbors.
Avoid Motor Vehicle Accidents
One of the biggest risks comes from car accidents due to limited visibility, slick roads or debris.
After a storm, it is best not to drive until the inclement weather has passed and the roads have been cleared. If you must go out, be sure to drive slowly and with extra care. You need more distance to stop on slick roads and may not be able to avoid downed branches or other obstacles in the road if you are driving too quickly.
Further, never try to drive through standing water after a storm. It is often very hard to tell how deep the water is, and you could get stuck.
Be Careful When Fixing Fallen Limbs
Sometimes, severe storms knock down trees or branches. They may fall on your own property or in some cases cause injury or damage on a neighbor's property. Usually, this is considered an "act of God" and the owner of the tree cannot be held liable. However, if the tree was not properly maintained before the accident, the victim might have a cause of action.
Liability may also arise in cases where the tree owner is negligent in clearing fallen limbs after a storm. Unless you have significant experience, it is safer to call in a professional to do the job.
Watch Out For Downed Power Lines
Tree limbs are not the only things that can fall during a storm. High voltage power lines can also fall, giving rise to risk of serious injury, burns or electrocution. Since water acts as a conductor, dangerous electrical current may still be present several feet from the downed line.
If you notice downed power lines after a storm, do not go near them, even if the power is out. Instead, call the utility company and the fire department right away. As with trees, when a power line falls during a storm it is generally considered to be an "act of God." However, injured individuals may have legal recourse if the lines were negligently maintained or if the utility fails to remedy the problem within a reasonable period of time.
Stay Safe, Protect Your Rights
These are just a few of the hazards that can manifest after a tornado or severe thunderstorm. Always approach the aftermath of a storm with an eye toward safety.
If you do become injured, talk to an Oklahoma personal injury lawyer who can help you understand your rights.