- General Information
- What are my responsibilities?
- Do I need to hire a lawyer?
- What are the steps in the claims process?
- Do I have a valid claim?
- Do I have to appear before or address the City Council concerning my claim?
- How quickly will my claim be processed?
- Where do I pick up and file tort claim forms?
- Important phone numbers
The City of Lawton does not carry any type of liability insurance, to include automobile liability. Damages for which the City is liable can be paid only through the tort claims procedure in accordance with Title 51, Oklahoma Statutes, '151 et seq.
What are my responsibilities?
Provide Proof of Loss - If possible, retain damaged items, take photographs of damages, obtain repair estimates, etc.
Mitigate Damages - You have a responsibility to take action to minimize damages. Take immediate action when required to correct an unsafe or unhealthy condition (such as presented by a sewer backup).
File Claim - Claims not filed within one year after the damage occurs are barred by law and will be recommended for denial. The claim must be notarized and filed in the City Clerk's Office.
Do I need to hire a lawyer?
The majority of property and personal injury claims are settled without the claimant hiring a private attorney. However, at any time during the claims process you have the right to be represented by a lawyer.
Steps to file a claim
Step 1 - Obtain a claim form from the City Clerk.
Step 2 - Obtain estimates or receipts for repairs, replacement of damaged property, medical bills, photos and other evidence to support claims.
Step 3 - Complete the claim form and file it at the City Clerk's Office. Attach support documentation. You may only file one claim so be sure that your claim is complete and lists all damages.
Step 4 - You may contact the Claims Investigator, 580-581-3320, for further information regarding the tort claims process, assessment of damages or additional assistance. The Claim Investigator will submit a report of findings to the assigned attorney.
Step 5 - The assigned attorney will complete a legal review and written opinion to the City Attorney.
Step 6 - The City Attorney will submit the report and recommendation for approval or denial by the City Council.
Step 7 - Payment of approved claims under $400 processed by City Clerk's Office, Payment of approved claims over $400 processed by City Attorney's Office.
Do I Have A Valid Claim?
If your property has been damaged or you were injured due to the negligence, inaction or misconduct of a City employee, you may have a valid claim. However, state laws exempt or limit the City from liability under certain situations. For example:
1. No prior notice of defect -- The City is not responsible for damages caused by street defects, such as a pothole, or a sewer backup unless it has prior notice of the defect or problems with the street, sewer main or water main. Notice may be a previous service call by a city crew or employee for the same defect or a similar defect or problem in the same system or location or contact by a citizen reporting the defects or problems.
2. Easements or rights-of-way -- Generally, any damages to structures, sprinkler systems, lawns, trees, shrubs, flower beds, etc. located in easements or rights-of-ways will not be recommended for payment.
3. Subrogation claims -- Pursuant to the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims Act, the City is not liable for damages if an insurance company pays your claim and then seeks reimbursement from the City or you were covered by your employers workers' compensation insurance at the time of your injury.
Do I Have To Appear Before or Address The City Council Concerning My Claim?
You will receive a letter giving you advance notice of the date your claim will be considered by the City Council and a copy of the City Attorney's recommendation. If you desire to address the City Council concerning your claim, you need to fill out a form and hand it to the City Clerk or the Mayor before the meeting starts. The forms are placed in the council chamber by the main entrance.
How Quickly Will My Claim Be Processed?
By state law the City has 90 days to approve or deny your claim. Claims are processed as timely as possible, but it may take as much as 6 to 8 weeks to complete the processing of your claim. Claims not acted upon within 90 days after being filed are, by law, automatically considered to be denied. If your claim is incomplete, for example, if you don't state in your own words what happened, or if you don't list all damages, this could delay the process.
You may only file one (1) claim for the incident. You should make sure you include the total amount of the money damages you want. Don't let your claim be barred because you let the one (1) year time limit pass.
Where Do I Pick Up And File Tort Claim Forms?
City Clerk's Office
City Hall 2nd Floor
212 SW 9th Street
Lawton OK 73501
Important Phone Numbers
|City Clerk's Office||580-581-3305|
|City Attorney's Office||580-581-3320|
Information Revised December 2010