What to do after a car accident in Oklahoma
About 13 car accidents occur every minute in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Although you can’t control everything that happens on the road, you can control what happens after a car accident.
In this guide, we’ll look at Oklahoma car accidents, including the rules of the road and the steps you can take following a car crash to improve your chances of recovering the damages you deserve.
Oklahoma car crash statistics
Oklahoma is one of the most dangerous states to drive in when considering fatality rates per 1,000 drivers.
Let’s take a look at the three most recent years for which data is available.
|Oklahoma car crash statistics (2019–2021)|
|Year||Total fatalities||Serious injury crashes||Alcohol-related fatalities||Pedestrian fatalities|
|Source: Oklahoma Highway Safety Office|
According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, most car crashes in 2021 took place on city streets (31,359) and interstate highways (10,235).
Three laws Oklahoma drivers need to know
Most of the laws that impact Oklahoma drivers can be found in Title 47 of the Oklahoma Statutes. These laws cover everything from vehicle registration to limits on rear license plate illumination.
When it comes to Oklahoma car accident claims, there are 3 “big picture” laws you should keep in mind:
- Duty of care. Oklahoma requires all motor vehicle drivers to exercise “reasonable care” to avoid harming others on the road. In other words, the law requires that you operate your vehicle as a reasonable person would.
- At-fault state. Oklahoma is an “at-fault” state, which means the driver who caused an accident is responsible for the resulting damages. In “no-fault” states, each driver files a claim with their own insurance company, regardless of who’s at fault for the accident.
- Oklahoma’s modified comparative fault rule. Oklahoma is a modified comparative fault state. This means that each driver is assigned a percentage of liability in an accident. A plaintiff’s damages are then reduced by their percentage of fault (if any). However, if the plaintiff is 51 percent or more at fault for the accident, they are barred from recovering ANY damages.
Oklahoma minimum car insurance requirements
Oklahoma law requires anyone who drives a motor vehicle or motorcycle in the state to carry liability insurance with the following requirements:
- $25,000 for injuries or death to another person
- $50,000 for injuries or death to all other people involved in an accident
- $25,000 for damage to another person’s property
This insurance coverage is commonly referred to as “25/50/25 coverage.”
Liability coverage pays for the damages sustained by the other drivers and passengers in a car accident that you cause. If the damages exceed your policy limits, you’ll be on the hook for the difference. For this reason, many people choose to purchase liability insurance that exceeds the minimum requirements.
If you don’t have the required liability insurance, you can expect the following penalties:
|Fine||Imprisonment||License suspension||Reinstatement requirements|
|Up to $250||Not more than 30 days||Immediate license and registration suspension||Proof of insurance; $300 reinstatement fee; $125 administrative fee|
The most severe consequence of driving without insurance, however, is that uninsured drivers who cause an accident are personally liable for all of the damages that result.
Your legal duties after a car accident in Oklahoma
In Oklahoma (and most other states), you have to take 3 steps following a car accident involving property damage or an injury to avoid being charged with a hit-and-run:
- Stop your car at the scene of the accident (or as close to the scene as possible),
- Provide your name, address, insurance company, insurance policy number, and vehicle license number to any person involved in the crash, and
- Render reasonable assistance to anyone injured.
If you collide with an unoccupied vehicle, you must:
- Stop your vehicle at the scene of the accident, and
- Locate the vehicle’s owner or leave a written note providing your name and contact information.
Failure to follow these steps could result in a fine and even jail time.
Do I have to report a car accident in Oklahoma?
Pursuant to Section 47-10-108 of the Oklahoma Statutes, you must forward a written report of your car accident to the Department of Public Safety within six months of the accident so long as the accident resulted in:
- Bodily injury,
- Death, or
- Property damage in excess of $300
As a practical matter, the police officer who responds to your accident will file a report for you (assuming a police officer responds to your accident).
Proving fault after an Oklahoma car accident
To receive compensation after a car accident in Oklahoma, you have to prove that someone else was at fault for the crash and your resulting damages.
In most accidents, proving fault means establishing that some other driver was negligent. To prove that a motor vehicle driver was negligent in Oklahoma, you need to establish that:
- The driver owed you a duty. All drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid harming others on the road.
- The driver breached their duty. To prove that a driver breached their duty, you will have to show that the driver failed to exercise a reasonable degree of care. For example, the driver ran a stop sign or was texting while driving.
- You were injured as a result of the driver’s breach. It’s not enough that the driver failed to exercise reasonable care, you must prove that their failure caused your accident.
Of course, not all car accidents are caused by other drivers. Other potentially liable parties include:
- Property owners. Premises liability laws require property owners to maintain their property free from dangerous conditions. This includes public and private roads. If you’re injured as a result of a dangerous condition (such as a large pothole or an obscured stop sign), the owner of the property can be held liable.
- Manufacturers. If your car accident was caused by a defective component (such as a faulty brake system), the manufacturer can be held liable.
Types of damages available in an Oklahoma
Oklahoma allows car accident victims to recover the following damages:
- Economic damages represent the monetary losses caused by your accident (e.g., medical expenses, lost wages, property damage).
- Non-economic damages represent the non-monetary losses caused by your accident (e.g., pain and suffering, loss of consortium).
- Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant. In Oklahoma, punitive damages are available if the judge or jury determines that the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious (for example, a defendant who was speeding and intoxicated when the crash occurred). Punitive damages are capped in an amount that can’t exceed $100,000 or the amount of actual damages awarded.
How long do I have to file a car accident lawsuit in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, you have 2 years from the date of your car accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. This is referred to as the statute of limitations. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you will be permanently barred from receiving compensation for your injuries.
Hurt in a car crash? You may find these resources helpful
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more