Oklahoma Car Accident Law: What You Need to Know
March 8 2023
In Oklahoma, the driver at fault for an automobile accident is liable for any resulting damages, and a certain percentage of fault will be assigned to each party based on their degree of negligence. It is important to consult with a lawyer if involved in a car accident to ensure your legal rights are protected.
Understanding Oklahoma Auto Accident Laws
Understandably, it can be hard to navigate Oklahoma auto accident laws for those unfamiliar with the process. To complicate things further, each type of motor vehicle accident is subject to its own unique set of laws.
When it comes to understanding the specifics of Oklahoma auto accident laws, it starts with two basic concepts: negligence and liability. Negligence dictates that any driver has a responsibility to operate within the bounds of safe driving practices while liability tells us who is financially responsible for any damages or injuries caused as a result of an accident.
In order to demonstrate negligence, several criteria must be met. First, did the motorist fail to act in a way that a reasonable person would be expected to act in the same situation? Second, did the plaintiff suffer a loss due to the driver’s failure? Third, is there proof that the defendant’s actions were responsible for causing the injury? If all three points are proven, then causation is established.
Furthermore, Oklahoma follows a “modified comparative negligence rule” when determining financial responsibility for an accident. Essentially, this law stipulates that each party involved bears responsibility for damage resulting from their own involvement in the accident. If one party is deemed more at fault than another based on percentage of participation in causing loss, he or she will have to pay more than someone who may have been only slightly liable.
It’s important to note that if you are less than 50% at fault in an Oklahoma auto accident and incur medical bills or property damages, you likely still have a right to seek compensation from any other parties found liable; however your settlement amount could decrease proportionately depending on your degree of responsibility.
Now armed with an understanding of Oklahoma auto accident laws, we can move onto discussing how fault is determined in these types of cases.
Determining Fault in an Auto Accident
When determining fault in an auto accident, there are several key factors to take into consideration. One of the most important aspects is the primary contributing cause of the accident. Was one of the drivers responsible for causing the incident because they were driving under the influence, using a cellphone, or speeding? If it was determined that one of the drivers contributed to the accident, then they will be held liable for any damages or injuries resulting from the incident.
Another factor that may be taken into account is if either of the parties had sufficient time and space to safely avoid the incident. This can sometimes be difficult to determine following an auto accident and could require input from experts or witnesses who saw what occurred. If it was found that neither of the drivers had enough time or room to correct their course to prevent an accident, then both parties could possibly be considered at fault.
The third factor that comes into play when determining fault in an auto accident is whether either of the drivers violated any traffic laws immediately prior to or during the incident. This includes failing to adhere to posted speed limits, running stop signs and red lights, not using signals when turning, making an illegal U-turn, or other harmful driver errors. In this case, the driver who broke these laws would be considered responsible for causing the collision and any resulting damages or injuries.
No matter who is deemed liable for an auto accident, all drivers involved are responsible for having adequate insurance coverage on their vehicles. The negligent party’s insurance company may cover associated repair costs and medical bills resulting from the crash. In extremely severe cases where a driver does not have valid insurance (or enough) coverage, all parties may need to file a lawsuit against one another in order to seek compensation for losses incurred in related to the accident.
The determination of fault in an auto accident can be quite complex depending on a number of factors and circumstances surrounding each individual case. With this in mind, it may be beneficial for any person involved in an incident of this nature to consult with a qualified legal professional in order to receive unbiased advice on how best pursue any claims related to damages or injuries suffered in relation to an automobile collision.
Now that we know more about determining fault in an auto accident we can move on to exploring negligence and responsibility in our next section.
Negligence and Responsibility
Negligence and Responsibility are two key legal concepts when it comes to Oklahoma car accident law. The state of Oklahoma abides by the doctrine of comparative negligence, which allows an injured party to recover damages so long as their own negligence was not greater than that of the defendant’s. Comparative negligence assigns a percentage of fault to each party in an accident; if the injured party is found to be more than 50% at fault for their injuries, they will not be awarded any damages.
Oklahoma also operates under a modified contributory negligence system. Under this system, if the plaintiff (the injured party) contributed in any way to the accident, however slight, their claim for damages may be denied. Because of this, it’s important for drivers involved in accidents to make sure they take all reasonable steps practicable to ensure safety; failing to do so may mean being barred from recovering damages in court.
In order for an individual to be found negligent and thus responsible for damage stemming from a car accident, certain conditions must apply: it must be established that the individual owed a duty of care to another driver on the road; they failed in some way to exercise reasonable care when operating their vehicle; and their failure to exercise such care caused injury or damage. If these elements are satisfied, then the defendant can be found negligent and held liable for causing harm or damage as a result.
Overall, it’s important for both parties involved in a car accident to do whatever they can to demonstrate that they exercised reasonable care in their operation of a vehicle; doing so could mean the difference between holding someone accountable for their actions or being held solely liable.
Now that we understand negligence and responsibility under Oklahoma car accident law, let’s move on and explore the rights of victims injured in an auto accident.
- In Oklahoma, leaving the scene of an accident without stopping to identify oneself and/or tending to any injured parties can result in up to a year’s imprisonment or a fine of up to $500.
- According to a study conducted in 2017, traffic fatalities in Oklahoma increased by nearly 30% from 2000 to 2016.
- As of January 2021, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation reports that the number of fatal car crashes on the state’s roads are the highest they have been in decades.
Rights of Victims Injured in an Auto Accident
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, you may be entitled to compensation under Oklahoma law. It is important to know your rights as a victim in order to ensure that you receive the proper justice and recovery that you deserve.
Generally speaking, individuals injured in an auto accident have the right to seek both economic and non-economic damages due to their injury. Economic damages are intended to compensate victims for monetary losses incurred as a result of the injury, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Non-economic damages typically include emotional distress and physical pain stemming from the accident.
In some cases, the court may grant punitive damages if it is determined that there are sufficient circumstances to warrant them. Punitive damages are typically awarded when the courts deem it necessary for punishing reckless behavior–such as driving while excessively intoxicated–and for deterring any similar behavior from occurring in the future.
It is also important to note that Oklahoma abides by a pure comparative fault rule which means even if a victim was partially at fault for causing the accident, they can still recover damages from the other party as long as their negligence level does not exceed 50 percent; however, the amount of damages awarded will be reduced depending on the degree of fault attributed to victim. As such, it is always advised to document everything related to the accident thoroughly and seek legal advice when filing a claim in order to ensure optimum results.
With these rights in mind, it’s time now turn our attention towards understanding “The Legal Process for Seeking Compensation.”
The Legal Process for Seeking Compensation
The legal process for seeking compensation after a car accident in Oklahoma may vary, depending on the circumstances of your case. Generally speaking, you may be able to claim compensation through insurance claims, settlement negotiations, and filing a lawsuit.
If you have suffered physical or financial harm as a result of an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you have the right to pursue compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Insurance companies will investigate the facts of the case and determine whether they are liable for damages. In many cases, an insurance company will offer a settlement instead of going to court. This can be beneficial if the amount offered is fair and reasonable, but in some cases, it is advisable to negotiate further or reject the offer and file a lawsuit instead.
Going to court can be expensive and time consuming. However, if you believe that you are entitled to more money than what has been offered in a settlement or insurance claim, taking legal action may be the best option for getting full and fair compensation for your losses. It is important to keep in mind that there are important deadlines that must be adhered to when it comes to filing a lawsuit in Oklahoma. Therefore, it’s always wise to seek legal advice as soon as possible after an accident so that you know all of your rights and options regarding seeking compensation.
In some cases, both parties may prefer to avoid going to court altogether. If this is something that both sides agree upon, then a “good faith negotiation” or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedure may be used to reach a mutually agreed upon settlement without having to go through litigation. The goal would still be to come up with an agreement that provides appropriate compensation for any losses incurred due to the accident.
No matter what route you choose in terms of seeking compensation from the liability party after an Oklahoma car accident, it is important to understand your legal rights and take all measures necessary for protecting them throughout the legal process. To learn more about how best to approach filing a claim or lawsuit against another driver in an Oklahoma car accident case, please read on in our next section about “Filing a Lawsuit or Claim Against Another Driver”.
Filing a Lawsuit or Claim Against Another Driver
When filing a lawsuit or making a claim against another driver following a car accident in Oklahoma, it is important to establish who was at fault. The amount of damages you may be entitled to receive can depend on the nature of the other driver’s fault. Generally, an injured person must establish that their losses were caused by someone else’s negligence. This means that one will have to prove that their injuries and resulting damage were the result of another’s unreasonable behavior, such as distracted driving, not following traffic laws, or speeding. Unfortunately, filing a claim against another driver can be difficult and time-consuming process since often insurance companies are unwilling to pay out in full.
Filing a lawsuit rather than settling on an agreement with another driver can be a contentious issue for many. On the one hand, one may think it is justified due to the trauma and suffering involved with being in a car accident—one might feel they are owed the money they are asking for in damages. On the other hand, some may argue that filing suit is expensive, time consuming, and that any court award is usually much lower than what was first expected or requested. Both sides should consider that while a settlement without filing suit may avoid long-term litigation and further discomfort associated with court cases and legal proceedings, it can also prevent folks from being fully compensated for their losses if necessary. In order to determine whether to file a suit or try an out-of-court settlement with another driver, it is best to speak to an experienced attorney about your particular situation.
The next section deals with “Types of Damages Recoverable in a Civil Action”; here we will explore various forms of recovery available when seeking compensation from another after suffering from an automobile accident in Oklahoma.
Types of Damages Recoverable in a Civil Action
In Oklahoma, individuals injured in car accidents have the right to bring a civil action against those responsible for their injuries. This is known as a tort claim and it allows the injured party to recover damages from those responsible. Depending on the nature of the case, the types of damages recoverable can range greatly.
Compensatory Damages: Compensatory damages are intended to compensate victims for losses suffered as a result of an accident. This includes financial losses such as medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and extra childcare costs due to an injury. It also includes non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and mental anguish.
Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are not available in all cases, but may be awarded if it is found that the person who caused the accident acted with malicious intent or gross negligence. These damages are meant to punish those responsible for causing harm, rather than to compensate victims for their losses.
Statutory Damages: Statutory damages are awarded when a statute has been violated and no compensatory damages have been proven. These are set by statute and they vary depending on the nature of the violation and other factors.
Regardless of which type of damages are awarded in an Oklahoma car accident case, they must be proven by presenting evidence that shows how much was lost by the injured party as a result of the accident. It is important for victims to keep records and documentation that accurately reflects any losses they have incurred. This will make it easier to prove the extent of their damages in court.
When considering which type of damages may be awarded in an Oklahoma car accident case, it is important to remember that no two cases are alike and every situation presents its own unique set of circumstances. There is no guarantee that a victim will receive any given type of compensation from a defendant or insurance company.
Now that we have discussed types of damages recoverable in a civil action related to an Oklahoma car accident, let’s turn our attention to Oklahoma drivers’ insurance requirements in the following section.
Oklahoma Drivers’ Insurance Requirements
Under Oklahoma law, motorists must carry a minimum amount of automobile liability insurance coverage in order to legally operate a vehicle. Car insurance serves to protect drivers from financial losses associated with car accidents. In the event of an accident, having adequate car insurance can help cover damages to another party who is not at fault for the collision, too.
Minimum Coverage Requirements
In Oklahoma, drivers must have bodily injury liability coverage and property damage coverage for their registered vehicles. Bodily injury liability coverage provides protection for medical costs or lost wages if an injury occurs as a result of a car accident. Property damage liability coverage takes care of repairs or replacements related to any property damaged by an at-fault driver. The state’s minimum limits as prescribed under Oklahoma statutes are:
• Bodily Injury Liability: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident
• Property Damage Liability: $25,000 per accident
These amounts refer to the maximum amount of money your policy may possibly pay out due to an accident claim you are at fault for. However, it’s important to note that minimum limits may be inadequate in certain situations when more expensive repairs or costly injuries take place. To be better prepared against possible claims, it’s recommended that drivers opt for higher levels of coverages such as $100,000/$300,000 on bodily injury liability and $100,000 on property damage liability. Some insurers also offer comprehensive coverage and uninsured motorist coverage that provide additional protection in certain situations.
Requirements Regarding Uninsured Motorists
The Sooner State has taken certain steps toward addressing the issue of uninsured and underinsured motorists on its roadways by mandating certain requirements all automobile policies must meet in order to be issued in the state. This means that all personal auto policies must include uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage with limits equivalent to those of the underlying bodily injury and property damage liability policies unless waivers are signed at the time of purchase by all insured parties listed on the policy. As a result, UM/UIM coverages are essentially mandatory in Oklahoma, but these supplemental coverages do come with additional cost considerations. While UM/UIM coverages are beneficial for policyholders who have experienced losses due to hit-and-run scenarios or accidents caused by drivers who don’t have enough insurance, some drivers argue it pushes up the cost of insurance premiums unnecessarily.
Overall, when shopping for auto insurance in Oklahoma it pays for drivers to compare quotes from multiple providers and consider potential benefits when selecting optimal levels of coverages prior to purchase. Doing so can help make sure drivers stay compliant with state requirements while protecting themselves financially against accidents — regardless of who is at fault — which is key when considering Oklahoma car accident law standards and requirements.
Responses to Common Questions
What are my rights after a car accident in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, you have a few rights that are important to understand after a car accident. Firstly, it is important to contact the police, even if there are no injuries, as they may be able to take statements and gather evidence at the scene. It is also important to obtain the name and contact information of any eyewitnesses so that they can testify in the event of a dispute.
You also have the right to seek medical care after an accident, even if you don’t feel any symptoms at the time—many serious injuries can take days or weeks to manifest. It’s especially important for victims to keep all medical records related to the accident for use in insurance claims or in legal proceedings. Victims should also photograph any damage to their vehicles.
Finally, victims have a right to seek compensation from the responsible driver for damages (e.g. car repairs or medical bills) that exceed their available insurance coverage. It is best advised to consult an experienced motor vehicle attorney who can review the case and advise on a potential claim or lawsuit.
How long do I have to file a car accident claim in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, you typically have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim for car accident damages. This is known as the statute of limitations, and after this period has passed, most courts will no longer hear your case.
However, there are certain important exceptions to this rule. For instance, if you were making a claim against the government for their negligence or misconduct, then you may only have six months to make your case. Additionally, if you can show that you had no way of learning about something material to your case until recently, then the court may extend the statute of limitations.
Regardless, it is always best to act quickly upon an accident in order to protect all your legal rights. If you wait too long, then you may miss out on valuable opportunities to pursue justice or fair compensation. Therefore, it is generally advised that you and speak with a reputable attorney soon after your car accident in order to determine what steps should be taken next!
What factors determine fault after a car accident in Oklahoma?
The Oklahoma Statutes, Title 47 Section 11-901 specify the factors that determine fault after a car accident in Oklahoma. These factors include the following:
1. Negligence – Negligence is defined as failing to exercise reasonable care when operating a vehicle. Factors that may be taken into consideration when determining negligence include speed, distraction, intoxication, and maintenance of the vehicle.
2. Contributory Negligence – This refers to how an injured party may have contributed to the cause of an accident. If an injured party is found to be more than 50% at fault for the crash, then their claim for damages may not prevail in court.
3. Dram Shop Laws – If someone was served alcohol prior to causing the crash, then a bar or restaurant may be held liable for their negligence.
4. “Last Clear Chance” Doctrine – This doctrine states that if one driver had a chance to avoid the accident but failed to do so because of negligence and/or fault, they may still be held liable despite the other party being found at fault originally.
5. Res Ipsa Loquitur Doctrine – This doctrine states that if the circumstances of an accident indicate that it wouldn’t have happened otherwise, then the defendant may be assumed to have acted negligently and held accountable for any injuries caused by this negligence.
All of these factors are taken into consideration when determining fault after a car accident in Oklahoma, thus it is important for drivers and other parties involved to understand them thoroughly in order to ensure proper compensation for any damages incurred from an automobile collision.