A key question after a car accident in Oklahoma is “Who is at fault?” In Oklahoma, a driver who is found to be at fault may be held liable by the accident victims for their losses. Oklahoma car accident laws require drivers to maintain auto liability insurance to pay for injuries and property damage they cause.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Oklahoma, you will need to demonstrate to the insurance company that the other driver was at fault. In addition to being an at-fault state, Oklahoma follows the doctrine of contributory negligence. This means if you contributed to the crash in any way, you will need to show the other driver’s fault was greater than yours to obtain a settlement.
The car accident attorneys of Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons can help you seek full compensation if you have been injured in a crash someone else caused. Our law firm has been in business for 30 years. Our experienced lawyers understand Oklahoma insurance claim laws and what is involved in proving fault after a personal injury accident. We fight insurance companies for full and fair compensation for our clients. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about pursuing compensation for your car accident injuries and other losses.
The Difference Between At-Fault and No-Fault Auto Insurance Claim Systems
Oklahoma’s at-fault auto insurance liability laws are in line with those of most other states. In “at-fault” states, an individual in a car accident seeks compensation from the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance. Liability insurance pays the accident victim’s medical bills, vehicle repair and other costs when the policyholder is at fault in an accident. However, Oklahoma also applies a “comparative fault” standard to liability claims.
If the injured party shares fault for a car accident, he or she may still recover compensation. However, the amount of any jury award will be reduced according to the share of responsibility for the accident. If the insurer can show the injured party was mostly at fault (51 percent or more), there will be no payment.
After a car accident in a no-fault state, the policyholder’s own insurance pays for medical expenses up to the limits of the policy, regardless of who caused the accident. No-fault laws are meant to keep minor injury claims out of court. Under no-fault laws, motorists may sue for severe injuries and for pain and suffering only if the case meets a stated threshold related to the severity of the injury.
Only 12 U.S. states have no-fault auto insurance laws, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Auto Liability Insurance Requirements in Oklahoma
Oklahoma auto insurance laws require drivers to have auto liability insurance before they can legally drive a motor vehicle. However, about one of every four drivers in Oklahoma is uninsured, according to a 2018 report from the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council.
Uninsured motorist insurance (UM) pays the policyholder if he or she is injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver or a hit-and-run driver who is not caught.
Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) pays benefits if the at-fault driver’s liability insurance does not pay enough to compensate the injured person for his or her losses. Oklahoma drivers are offered UM/UIM coverage when they buy liability insurance. Most have UM/UIM coverage unless they specifically decline it by signing a waiver.
Many drivers buy only the minimum amount of auto liability insurance required by law. In Oklahoma, it is:
- $25,000 for bodily injury to or death of any one individual in an accident;
- $50,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more individuals in an accident; and
- $25,000 for property damage caused to other vehicles or property in an accident.
Oklahoma adopted a $174 penalty for driving without liability insurance in 2017 as part of a program to crack down on uninsured drivers.
Proving Fault After a Car Accident in Oklahoma
Insurance companies profit when they take in more revenue from insurance premiums than they pay out for claims. Insurance adjusters have a financial obligation to their employers to pay as little as possible to settle claims or deny benefits altogether, regardless of the claimant’s injuries.
In a modified comparative fault state like Oklahoma, an insurance company may assert that you were mostly to blame for the accident and deny your claim or say you shared enough fault to significantly reduce the amount of money you are owed. This is when you need the assistance of an experienced Oklahoma car accident attorney at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons to hold the insurance company accountable and fight for full compensation.
As your attorneys, we conduct a thorough investigation of the car accident to determine what happened and who was at fault.
Drivers have a duty of safety to others on the roads. When a driver breaches this legal duty through negligence or recklessness and causes an accident and injury, they are “at fault” and may be held liable. As your legal advocates, we negotiate aggressively with insurers for maximum compensation to you while mitigating the effect of any evidence casting fault for the accident on you.
Our team can investigate the accident to determine what happened and who was at fault. This would include:
- Examining the accident scene and vehicle damage. The length of skid marks or lack of skid marks, and vehicle damage can provide evidence of fault after a crash.
- Obtaining the police report. The other driver may have received a ticket or been arrested. Even if no ticket was issued, a police report is the first documented description of the crash.
- Gathering statements from you and witnesses, including your passengers. Witnesses might have seen the other driver engaged in reckless behavior such as disregarding traffic signals, making sudden lane changes, or using a phone before the accident.
- Obtaining the other driver’s cellphone records. Phone use at the time of the crash may indicate distracted driving.
- Obtaining the other driver’s debit or credit card records, which are time-and-date-stamped and may show alcoholic beverage purchases immediately prior to the crash.
- Accessing social media accounts. An at-fault driver may post comments about an accident on a social media page that can show the driver was responsible for the accident.
- Obtaining any available surveillance camera footage. Particularly in Oklahoma’s urban areas, there are many security cameras that record traffic, including accidents that occur in front of stores, ATMs and public buildings.
- Accessing vehicles’ event data recorders (EDRs). Late-model automobiles in the U.S. are equipped with EDRs, or “black boxes,” that record data from moments before and after the impact of a crash. An EDR download can identify engine speed, changes in speed, use of brakes, steering trajectory, the number of impacts in the crash, and more.
It is best to start a car accident investigation as soon as possible after a crash has occurred. As soon as you have engaged us as your attorneys, we can have the other driver’s damaged vehicle, cellphone records, and social media accounts preserved so any evidence they may yield remains available to us.
In a complex accident, our attorneys may enlist a traffic accident reconstruction specialist to examine the evidence. These forensic specialists develop written reports we can present to insurers as part of negotiations and, if a case must go to trial, multi-media explanations of crashes that prove persuasive with juries.
What to Do After an Oklahoma Car Accident
Following a car accident, if you have not been too badly injured, you should act in a businesslike manner to do what is required by law and to preserve the viability of a potential accident claim. This includes:
- Exchanging information. Provide the other driver your name, address, telephone number, insurance company and policy number and driver’s license number.
- Cooperating with police. Answer the investigating officer’s questions, but never admit or accept blame for an accident when talking with police.
- Filing an accident report. Police typically respond to accidents that cause injuries. If they do not respond to your accident, you must file an accident report with the OK Department of Public Safety.
- Obtaining medical care. See a doctor within 24 hours if you do not get emergency medical care. This documents your injury consistent with the date of the car crash.
- Contacting your insurance company. Most policies require notifying the insurer shortly after an accident. Follow your insurer’s instructions, but do not agree to a recorded statement and do not sign anything.
- Contacting an attorney. Consulting an experienced Oklahoma City car accident lawyer is the best way to protect your rights and ensure you obtain compensation for injuries someone else has caused.
Call Our Oklahoma Car Accident Attorneys Today
If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, a car accident attorney from our respected personal injury law firm can help you demonstrate who was at fault based on Oklahoma’s insurance liability laws and demand full compensation. For decades, Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons has stood up for car accident victims and prevented insurance companies from taking advantage of them through Oklahoma’s insurance liability laws.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation. We can travel to meet with you wherever is most convenient, including at your home or in the hospital, and explain your legal options to you.Get Started