Oklahoma Injury Attorneys Caution: Is Your Deck or Balcony Summer Ready?

Summer is the perfect season to host a party. Not only is the weather usually ideal, but you can also host the festivities outdoors. This is a huge bonus if you have a smaller home, like a condominium or townhouse, or simply want to throw a shindig larger that your abode can accommodate. To boot, a party outside always seems to be a bit more festive. Even if you do not have a huge outdoor space, sometimes even a small balcony or screened in porch can make for a great party space. While outdoor parties can be a great idea—they can also be dangerous if the outdoor space is not properly constructed and/or maintained.

Recently, a 21-year old California woman discovered this fact the hard way—she almost died. In mid-June the college student and a group of her friends were celebrating her birthday, when the 5th floor apartment complex balcony they were on collapsed. Six people were killed and another seven were seriously injured. The woman, of the people injured, is now out of a coma and no longer considered to be in critical condition. Five of the people killed were college students from Ireland. The cause of collapse is thought wooden support beams that had rotted due to water damage. California prosecutors are still investigating the tragedy and at this time, no charges had been brought.

So before you hand out invitations to your backyard soiree, as a homeowner you should always make sure that your outdoor space is ready to receive guests. Extreme temperatures can take a toll on a deck or balcony along with weather elements like snow, ice and rain.

Before allowing anyone on your deck, balcony or porch, you should make it a rule to inspect the structure at least annually. A proper examination should include a check of the following:

  • Does the structure feel secure or is wobbling or excessive movement when it is walked on?
  • Are there any missing or rusty nails, screws or brackets?
  • Do any of the boards seem loose or discolored?
  • Is the wood in good condition or is there splitting, cracking or rotting?
  • Are the handrails sturdy and in overall good repair?

It is important for homeowners to understand that what may appear to be a cosmetic problem, can really be a sign that a structural repair is needed. A coat of paint or stain will not resolve deeper problems. If in doubt, always consult with a professional. A trained professional can help you spot and fix problem areas so as to avoid a tragic accident like the one in California.

Another thing to keep in mind when having guests on an outdoor patio or balcony is capacity. While newer structures must meet specific building codes for capacity and/or weight, older structures or structures in need of maintenance, may not be able to support as much. As a homeowner you need to know how many people can safely be on your outdoor structure and take serious precautions to never allow more than that number on it at one time.

If you have suffered a severe injury after being involved in an accident while on someone else’s balcony or deck, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. At The Handley Law Center our team of seasoned Oklahoma Injury Attorneys can help you determine the best approach to take to obtain the compensation to which you may be entitled. Trust only a skilled Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney to properly evaluate your case. Our attorneys will fight to make sure that your rights are protected and that justice is served. To find out how The Handley Law Center can help you, contact us at (405) 295-1924 to schedule a free and completely confidential consultation.


How to Safely Get Your Grill On This Summer

Warm summer evenings are too nice to spend inside cooking a meal. That is why grilling or barbecuing, if you prefer, is a great alternative to slaving over a hot stove. Rather than turn on your oven you can roast a chicken or other tasty treats right on your grill. However, before you grab the charcoal or ignite your gas grill, there are several things you need to be aware of. Using an outdoor grill can be dangerous if the right precautions are not taken. While many people choose to utilize their grills year round, July has been the peak month for grill fires. It is estimated that more than 8,000 home fires are caused each year by backyard grills. In 2012, home grills were responsible for almost 17,000 trips to the emergency room. So to keep you and your home from going up in smoke, follow these grilling safety tips:

Know thy equipment: Whether you prefer the convenience of propane or the great-flavor of charcoal, it is important to properly check your grill before fire it up. Gas grills should be checked to make sure that the hoses connecting the propane to the grill are in good repair. Each year leaks or breaks in these hoses contribute to a significant number of fires.

Keep thy grill outside: It is difficult to beat the smell of food being cooked on a grill. However, it is important to realize that good smells are not the only thing wafting from your grill. Carbon monoxide, a deadly odorless gas, is also being released into the air. This is why it is important to always keep your grill outside in a well ventilated area—not inside a garage or shed. According to the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission there are approximately 20 deaths and 300 emergency room visits attributed to injuries from carbon monoxide poisoning from charcoal grills.

Do not move thy grill once hot: There is nothing worse (well other than starting your dinner on fire) than to start the grill on a beautiful day and then have Mother Nature decide to rain on your parade. While it may be tempting to move the grill to a drier location, it is important to never move a hot grill.

Location, location, location: While your main focus on what you are going to grill, where you choose to grill should be equally as important. Each year poorly placed grills contribute to a significant number of injuries. A grill placed too close to a home, garage, deck or other structure can cause a simple flare-up to quickly become a large damaging fire. It is also important not to place a grill near children playing or a walkway.

Keep thy grill clean: Make it your habit to thoroughly clean the grates of your grill after every use. Regular cleaning will ensure that your grill does not accumulate debris and grease buildup, which can start a dangerous grease fire. A clean grill is always much safer to use than a dirty grill, regardless of whether it is gas or charcoal.

Watch thy grill: Since a grill fire can quickly go from a small flare-up to a house-burning blaze in just minutes, it is important that someone be in charge of watching the grill at all times. Whoever is watching the grill should have a bottle of water, a fire extinguisher and a cell phone handy. Remember, if a fire starts do not delay—call for help!

If you or a family member was seriously injured in an accident, please contact The Handley Law Center at (405) 295-1924 to schedule a free and completely confidential consultation. The experienced attorneys at The Handley Law Center understand the devastating impact an accident can have on a person. At The Handley Law Center our team of seasoned Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorneys are prepared to do whatever is necessary to obtain just compensation for you. You can trust our attorneys will use their knowledge of the law and their experience in the courtroom to fight for your rights and obtain the results you deserve.

Oklahoma Family Law Attorneys Discuss Mediation in Divorce Cases

If you are contemplating filing for divorce, it is completely normal to have questions and concerns about the process. Common worries people have include: How long it could take before my divorce is finalized? How much money will the divorce cost? How am I going to survive the divorce proceedings? Given these concerns, it is completely within reason that most people want to be divorced as quickly and efficiently as possible.

A quick and painless divorce may seem too good to be true. But the fact is that a divorce does not necessarily have to be a drawn-out and painful affair. While divorces that require all issues (like property division, child custody and visitation, and child support/alimony) to be decided by the judge at a trail tend to be lengthy in nature and more expensive, it does not mean that all or even most divorces need or actually do proceed in this manner. People unfamiliar with the divorce process may think that all divorce cases are decided by a judge at trial, the fact of the matter is the majority are not. Most people reach a settlement on most or all issues, and do not require a full trial. At first blush it may seem contradictory to think that a couple who are planning to divorce could agree on anything—many are able to do so, especially with the aid of mediation.

How does mediation work?

In mediation, a neutral third party helps the parties (either with or without the attorneys being present) to determine what matters are at issue and to help the parties reach mutually agreeable solutions. In some counties in Oklahoma, parties may be required to attend a mediation session. However, in most cases mediation is simply an option offered to divorcing couples.

Is mediation cost effective?

Persons that file for divorce in Oklahoma have two main options for mediation. Oklahoma offers all persons who file a case the option of free mediation through the Early Settlement Mediation program. This no cost program offers mediation with trained mediators who may or may not be attorneys or have legal training. The other option parties have is to attend mediation with a private mediator. Private mediators are usually attorneys or former judges that have training and/or experience in mediation. While private mediators are usually paid by the hour at a rate comparable to that of an attorney—the cost of mediation is usually a fraction of what it would cost for the case to be decided by a judge at trial.

Why would I want to attend mediation (other than cost savings)?

Mediation offers parties the ability to discuss the issues involving their case with their spouse in an out-of-court atmosphere before a neutral party. This gives the parties the ability to try to work past feelings that may be impeding settlement, such as anger, guilt or even the need to punish the other spouse. Through mediation the parties can openly discuss matters, like custody and visitation, and try to work out a situation that works for everyone. While it may sound like a good idea to take the “let the judge resolve everything” mindset, sometimes is the case that the judge’s ruling makes neither party happy.

Making the decision to settle versus go to trial can be a difficult one for a person in the middle of a divorce. However, the decision can be made a whole lot easier and with more confidence when you have a seasoned Oklahoma divorce attorney handling your case. At The Handley Law Center you can trust that our experienced Oklahoma Family Law Attorneys will take the time to thoroughly review your case and work with you to see if mediation would be in your best interests. To schedule your free and completely confidential consultation today, call The Handley Law Center at (405) 295-1924. We look forward to providing you with superior legal services.

What Every Oklahoma Motorists Needs to Know about BAC

In Oklahoma, a motorist is considered to be driving under the influence if he or she has a blood alcohol content (concentration) or “BAC” of .08 or higher. Any motorist who has an alcoholic beverage and plans to drive afterwards, needs to understand the ins and outs of BAC so he or she can operate a motor vehicle safely within the legal limits and avoid a potential DUI.

What is BAC?

Blood alcohol concentration refers to the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood. For example, a BAC of .02% means that a person has a .02 grams of alcohol per 1000 grams of blood. Since alcohol is absorbed quickly by the body, a person’s BAC level can be measured within approximately 30 to 60 minutes after consumption of an alcoholic beverage.

How is BAC measured?

When a motorist is pulled over by a police officer on suspicion of DUI, one of the things the officer will want to do is determine his or her BAC. The preferred method police use to obtain a motorist’s BAC is to utilize a Breathalyzer test. A Breathalyzer test takes a sample of the person’s breath in order to estimate his or her BAC. The police can also obtain a motorist’s BAC by taking a sample of the person’s blood. This method is often used if a person will not or cannot voluntarily give a breath sample. Unlike breath samples, which are taken by an officer at the place where the motorist is pulled over, blood tests are taken by a trained healthcare professional usually at a hospital.

What factors can impact BAC?

Just because two people drink the exact same amount of alcohol does not mean each will have the same BAC. How an individual’s body processes alcohol depends on various factors, including a person’s:

  • Weight: The more a person weights the more water he or she has in his or her body. Water helps slow the absorption of alcohol into the blood stream, resulting in a heavier person having a lower BAC than a person who weighs less.
  • Gender: Alcohol is absorbed more quickly into a woman’s blood stream than a man’s, which can result in a woman having a higher BAC after drinking the same amount of alcohol as a man. This is because as a general rule, a woman has less water and more body fat per pound of body weight than a man of the same weight.
  • Stomach contents: The presence of food in a person’s stomach also slows the absorption of alcohol. Therefore, a person with an empty stomach would likely have a higher BAC after drinking the same amount of alcohol as a person who had a full stomach.
  • Drinking speed: A person who drinks an alcoholic beverage slowly will have a lower BAC than if he or she drank the same drink quickly.

How will I know if my BAC is at or near the legal limit?

There is no real way for a person to know his or her BAC at any given time. Especially since one sign of alcohol impairment is failure to recognize impairment symptoms. This is why the best way to avoid is a DUI is to never drink and drive. Use a designated driver or take a cab.

If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence the first thing you need to do is make an appointment to speak with an experienced Oklahoma DUI Defense Attorney.  In Oklahoma a DUI is a serious offense and even a first time offender can face stiff penalties. At The Handley Law Center, our team of seasoned Oklahoma DUI Defense Attorneys can properly advise you of your rights and defend you in court. To schedule a free and completely confidential consultation with one of our skilled DUI Defense Attorneys contact The Handley Law Center at (405) 295-1924. Our team of attorneys will provide you with the aggressive representation you need.