An Informational Overview of Oklahoma Car Accident Laws, Lawsuits and Lawyers
A drive through Oklahoma conjures up images of frontier days in which settlers from the East loaded up covered wagons and headed west in search of fortune and a better life. Indeed, traveling across Oklahoma can feel like a pilgrimage as there are very few major towns between Tulsa (near the eastern part of the state) and Oklahoma City (in the central part of the state). Between these two major metropolitan areas and the various small towns scattered throughout the state, Oklahoma has a population of 3.8 million people as of the time of a 2013 census. Oklahoma may best be remembered in recent times for the resilience and determination of the people of Moore, many of whom rebuilt homes and businesses after devastating tornadoes tore through the suburb several times within the last few years.
Oklahoma may seem like vast open space with only a few concentrations of people here and there, but even in such a situation, car accidents can and do happen. These accidents may cause serious injuries or even death.
A Look at Oklahoma Traffic Accidents
Fatal traffic accidents in Oklahoma claimed the lives of 669 people in 2014, according to the State of Oklahoma. Another 33,000 people were injured in car vehicle crashes that same year. These numbers stayed roughly the same during 2015. When looked at in another light, there were about 100 people injured every day in Oklahoma during 2014 and 2015, and about 50 people lost their lives each month in traffic collisions.
There are a number of circumstances and behaviors which can explain why injury and fatal accidents occur. Some of the more common causes include:
- Impaired driving: When one things of “impaired driving,” one is tempted to picture alcohol or drugs. This is understandable: Both alcohol and drugs do impair a driver’s ability to drive a vehicle safely. But a sleepy driver (one who, for instance, decides to make the long trip from Tulsa to Oklahoma City without having had adequate sleep) is also impaired and cannot drive safely.
- Distracted driving: It is tempting on long drives through Oklahoma to check text messages or social media updates or just “tune out” and allow the mind to wander. Taking one’s eyes and/or attention off of the road – even momentarily – is enough for an accident to occur.
- Reckless driving: Some may try to shorten the distance between their point of origin and their destination by driving in excess of the posted speed limit or disregarding basic traffic laws and rules. This careless behavior can endanger both the driver and others around him or her.
This information establishes that most “accidents” in Oklahoma are really the result of one or more drivers behaving in a careless or thoughtless manner. Because many car accidents could have been avoided if the careless party simply exercised greater caution before acting, it makes sense that the careless driver who causes injury to others on the road should be held responsible for those injuries.
Oklahoma Is a “Fault Based” Insurance State
Oklahoma residents who wish to drive in the state must have a valid and active auto insurance policy that meets state requirements. If the driver injures others while on the road, the driver’s insurance policy is available to pay those who are injured compensation for their injuries, up to the policy’s limits. If this is not enough to fully compensate the injury victims, they may decide to file a car accident lawsuit and seek appropriate compensation from the at-fault driver.
Compensation may be available to injured individuals even if they themselves were partly to blame for the accident. As long as injured parties who file a lawsuit are not 51 percent or more at fault in causing the accident and their own injuries, they will be able to proceed with their lawsuit (but any compensation award they would receive would be reduced proportionate to their degree of fault).
Oklahoma’s Statute of Limitations
Oklahoma statutes impose a two-year deadline on personal injury and car accident cases (Okla. Stat. Ann. Title 12, Sec. 95). This means that in order to be able to recover compensation for your car crash-related injuries, you must file your lawsuit within two years of the date of the car accident. If you do not abide by this strict deadline, you may discover that you no longer have an ability to file or pursue a claim for compensation.
Contact Stern Law, PLLC Today
Knowing what to do after a car accident can be confusing. Stern Law, PLLC is available to guide you and advise you as to the steps you need to take to protect your legal rights. Contact Stern Law, PLLC by calling (844) 808-7529 today and speaking with us about the circumstances of your case. We will help you understand what rights you may have and how you may be able to recover compensation for your car crash expenses and losses.