I’ve previously written about the rights of Oklahoma landowners to bring civil suits against those who damage or destroy their property, including suits against those who trespass by polluting, cause damage to trees and other natural resources, or recklessly case surface damage while drilling for oil.
But how do you calculate the amount of compensation to which you are legally entitled?
Landowners in Oklahoma are entitled to recover two types of damages: compensation for 1) actual physical damage to the land, as well as for 2) personal losses.
The latter is called a nuisance claim, and allows a person to sue for any inconvenience or personal discomfort caused by the nuisance. We discuss the law of nuisance here. In this blog post, we will focus strictly on obtaining compensation for physical damage to the land.
How do you determine a tree’s value?
A common question in land cases is how do you determine the value of damaged trees? Or other types of property damage? These are great questions! Particularly because Oklahoma law is actually a bit complicated on this issue.
In Oklahoma, you are entitled to recover compensation for injury to land. But from there, the court will want to know whether the damage is temporary or permanent.
For temporary damage, you are entitled to the reasonable cost of restoring the property to as good a condition as it was in before the injury.
For permanent damage, you are entitled to the diminution in value of the property. That is, what is the difference between what the land was worth prior to the damage, and what is it worth now with the permanent damage. The difference in value is what the court will allow the jury to decide.
This formula therefore begs the question: how do you determine whether the damage is temporary or permanent?
Permanent versus Temporary Damage
Oklahoma cases have decided that damage is permanent when it is practically irreparable.
It is safe to say that if the damage itself exceeds the value of the property, it will be considered permanent.
However, if the damage is repairable, and the repairs would not exceed the value of the property, the damage can be declared “temporary,” and therefore the proper amount of compensation would be the cost to repair the damaged land.
Calculating the value of land
Many factors go into calculating the value of land, and an expert should always be retained for this purpose. But when the land is part of a person’s homestead, they may give testimony about how valuable the land is to them.
Need an Attorney for case involving Landowner Rights?
Travis Charles Smith is passionate about cases involving landowner rights and natural resources. As an attorney, Travis has helped landowners protect their land against corporate trespassers in cases involving boundary disputes, damage to trees, and sewage spills.
If you would like to speak to Travis about your case, send us an email or call (405) 701-6016. You may schedule a free consultation at our Oklahoma City office, or may request that Travis come visit your property (which he often prefers in these cases). We look forward to hearing from you.