Oklahoma Accidents and the Safety Belt Defense
Whereas some states require accident victims to file injury claims with their own Personal Injury Protection insurance coverage, in Oklahoma, we file injury claims against the at-fault driver in an accident. We do this to collect damages to compensate us for our injury-related expenses and losses.
But we also follow comparative negligence laws, which decrease the amount of compensation a car accident victim can receive based on how much they are at fault for their own injuries. For example, if you were involved in a car accident and you were 25 percent responsible for your injuries, and the other driver was 75 percent responsible, the amount of damages you can receive will be reduced by 25 percent. However, if you are more than 50 percent at-fault, you cannot receive any damages.
As an example, let’s say you failed to yield the right of way at a four-way intersection and proceeded to turn left across traffic, where you were t-boned by a speeding pick-up truck driver. If you were deemed to be 49 percent at fault for failing to yield, you could receive damages. If you were deemed 51 percent at-fault, you could not.
Using the same scenario from above, let’s say that you were not wearing your seatbelt when the pickup truck hit you, and the impact slammed you into the driver’s window and door causing head, neck, and shoulder injuries. The driver of the pickup could argue that had you been wearing your seatbelt, as required by Oklahoma law, you may not have been injured beyond bumps and bruises. If the defense presents a successful argument, your damages may be reduced.
How much a reduction depends on the exact circumstances of the accident and your injuries as well as in which state the crash happened. In some states that recognize the seatbelt defense, the amount of damages can be reduced by one, five, or fifteen percent. In Oklahoma, there is no such reduction limit. So technically, the defense could cause the percentage of your fault for your injuries to increase, causing the amount of damages you can receive. It is possible that in some situations the percentage of fault could be pushed above 51 percent, banning you from any damages.