“The sewer is backing up into my house…” “Grab the towels and a bucket!”
“Call the water department, maybe they can help!” “This smell is awful!”
Expletives fly, panic sinks in, and moving into a hotel seems like the only way to escape the nightmare. If this has happened to you, you are not alone. Fortunately, there is a path to reclaiming your home and your peace of mind. It is called the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims Act. 1 The “GTCA” was created by, you guessed it, the Oklahoma government in order to “(1) to promote prompt investigations, (2) to provide early opportunity for correction of dangerous conditions, (3) to promote speedy and amicable settlements of claims and (4) to permit the governmental entity to prepare for fiscal consequences.” 2 Sounds good, right?
As we all know, dealing with any government comes with obstacles. The GTCA is no different, but Buxton Law Group has been navigating through these hurdles on behalf of our clients for over a decade. This article explains some of the ways a municipality can prevent their sewer system from backing up and flooding homes and businesses before a problem arises. This should not serve as legal advice, but as a general guide for sewer backup victims. For more in-depth information or for a case review, contact our office or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Do I need a lawyer?”
When tragedy strikes your home in the form of a sewer backup, many don’t know where to turn. Do we call city hall or the emergency utility phone number? Will my insurance company handle this? Am I responsible for hiring a plumber and remediation company to fix it? These are all serious questions and sometime seems like no one has answers. Oklahoma Sewer Lawyers does.
As with many legal issues, obtaining legal advice and representation early is always recommended. That is why we tell many sewer flood victims to reach out to us whenever a sewer backup event occurs. This helps you in a multitude of ways, the most important being a prompt investigation, the preservation of evidence and eye-witness accounts and communication with the city regarding the severity of the matter. It also allows for you to get advice on what kind of documentation you should be creating and obtaining while the information is fresh, instead of trying to track down evidence later. If you experience a sewer backup, call the city first and then call an attorney immediately.
1 51 O.S. §§ 151 et al.
2 Calvert v. Tulsa Pub. Schools, Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 1 of Tulsa County, 1996 OK 106, ¶ 19.
If you didn’t speak to a lawyer or hire counsel immediately, you probably still have viable claims. A Notice of Tort Claim has to be filed within one (1) year of the date of loss (the sewer backup). This means that you have up to one (1) year to initiate a claim after it has occurred. While we definitely don’t recommend waiting a year, some may not even realize that they might have a claim to compensate them for their damages and never seek out legal advice to learn of their rights. We will inform you of those rights, work on your behalf to get a Notice of Tort Claim on file within the statute of limitations in order to preserve your claims and pursue all remedies available under the law.
What if you’ve already filed a tort claim? Once filed, the city and their insurance company have ninety (90) days to respond to your claim. No lawsuit or legal action can be taken during this period. If they don’t respond within the ninety-day time period, it is deemed denied. Maybe your tort claim has been denied already, either explicitly or by the running of the 90-day period? After denial, a lawsuit must be filed within one hundred eighty (180) days. We are happy to look at the dates to determine where you are in the process and advise you of your options if you chose to continue to pursue the claim. If you fall within the statutory timeframes, we can help get you the compensation you deserve.
As you can tell, there are multiple situations that sewer backup victims find themselves in before they hire, or even think to hire, a lawyer to represent them in their claims against the city. As the Oklahoma Sewer Lawyers, Buxton Law Group knows the ins-and-outs of claims against the government, and we will fight on your behalf to recover your home and your peace of mind. Call a lawyer early to navigate through the GTCA process, negotiate with insurance companies and compile all the evidence necessary to pursue your claims. But if you don’t, you may still have viable claims that you may not have even considered.
51 O.S. § 156(B)
51 O.S. § 157
So, what should you do if you find yourself in a sewer backup? Simple: call Buxton Law Group. We have represented sewer backup victims for more than a decade. Our knowledge of the GTCA, our trial experience and expertise, and our comprehensive understanding of sanitary sewer systems allows us to provide our clients with aggressive representation that is second to none. We will evaluate your case for free and inform you of every option you have, advise you on the proper way to proceed, and get you back on the road to recovery.
We have recovered millions on behalf of homeowners across Oklahoma who have had their property damaged and their lives turned upside down by failing sewer systems.
We are available for a free consultation to speak with you about your legal rights. Initial case reviews and evaluations are always free. We’re here to help.