Oklahoma Laws & Car Accidents
Driving or riding in a car is one of the most dangerous activities there is in modern life, yet it’s also one that people engage in nearly every day of their lives. When a car accident or crash does happen, it can cause more than just property damage.
In fact, in 2020 alone, there were 27,418 injuries that resulted from collisions on Oklahoma’s highways and roads. This startling statistic, compiled by the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, is a reminder of just how fragile life is and how we all need to be better prepared to face these challenges if they do arise.
If you’re in the Canadian County, Oklahoma, area and would like to speak with a car accident attorney, reach out to our team at The Handley Law Center. We’re also able to help those throughout the state, including Custer, Blaine, Kingfisher, and Caddo counties.
Liability for Car Accidents in Oklahoma
The most important question to answer when considering filing a personal injury claim is, “Who is liable in a car accident?” By understanding state laws surrounding liability, you and your legal team can formulate a claim with a higher likelihood of success.
The first key concept to understand is that Oklahoma is what’s called an “at-fault” state, which more or less means that the driver who caused the accident to happen is also the one who’s liable for paying any damages associated with the accident.
What this means in practice is that you can first file an insurance claim against the other driver’s insurance policy and you do not have to file against your own policy. This is in contrast to a “no-fault” state in which you first must seek coverage under your own personal injury protection (PIP) regardless of who was responsible for the crash happening. You may choose to file under your own policy, but this is not required.
Oklahoma Insurance Requirements
By law, all drivers in Oklahoma are required to carry a minimum amount of car insurance, and this is frequently referred to as 25/50/25 coverage. This covers $25,000 in damages for injuries or death to another person, $50,000 for anyone else who was injured or died as a result of the accident, and $25,000 for property damage. State law does not require you to carry PIP coverage, but you may opt to include this in your policy. In most cases, this coverage will be enough to pay damages for injury or property damage, but in serious crashes or those that result in severe or permanent injury, you may wish to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
State Laws Addressing Personal Injury Claims
If you do decide to file a personal injury claim, you only have two years from the date of the accident to do so. While this may seem like a long time, it can pass by sooner than you expect, especially when you consider how long it may take to close your initial insurance claim. If you try to file after this statute of limitations is over, your case will more than likely be thrown out by a judge.
You will also need to be aware of the state’s comparative fault law, which is a way of determining car driver negligence. This rule states that fault can be shared between two parties involved in an accident and the final settlement amount will be adjusted to reflect each driver’s share of responsibility.
For example, if a judge decides that you were 20% to blame for the accident and the total settlement amount was $40,000, you would only be awarded $32,000 to account for your percentage of liability. Importantly, if your share of responsibility exceeds 51%, you’ll be barred from seeking any damages in a claim. This makes it extremely important that you work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can adequately evaluate your case and ensure you’re able to bring a case forward that will adequately compensate you.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
In the most grievous cases, you may also need to bring forward a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one. While these lawsuits can never make your family whole again, they can offer financial support and a sense of closure. To do this, state law requires that only the deceased’s “personal representative” can file. If the individual doesn't have a will or estate planning document that assigns this role, a judge can assign someone. Like a personal injury lawsuit, you only have two years to bring forth a wrongful death claim.
Car Accident Attorneys Serving Canadian County, Oklahoma
If you or someone you love has recently been involved in a car accident that left them with serious injuries or resulted in a fatality, you more than likely have standing to bring a lawsuit against the responsible party. Contact us at The Handley Law Center in Canadian County, Oklahoma, to speak with a qualified attorney who can educate you on your options.