Oklahoma Comparative Negligence Laws
Negligence occurs when you fail your duty to someone else. In the case of car accidents, a driver may be negligent if they fail to operate their vehicle in a reasonable and prudent manner. For example, if you run a red light and hit a pedestrian crossing the street, then you were negligent in your operation of the vehicle and liable for the injuries you caused because a reasonable and prudent driver would have obeyed traffic laws and stopped for the red light.
Some states are no-fault states, each person involved in an accident is covered under their own insurance policy. i.e., each involved person files a claim with their own Personal Injury Protection insurance coverage. Oklahoma is a fault state in which the person who is at-fault for the accident is responsible for all injuries and damages they cause, and claims are filed against the at-fault driver and their insurance company.
But what happens if you also have some fault in the accident? The law says that if you contribute to the accident, the amount you can collect in damages is reduced according to your percentage of fault. For example, if you were 20 percent at fault and the other driver was 80 percent at fault, your damages will be reduced by 20 percent. But the law also says that if you are more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, you are entitled to no damages.
If you are seeking damages for injuries or losses sustained in a car accident you will have to prove the fault of the other driver. To do this, you prove –
- The other driver owed you a duty
- The other driver failed this duty
- This failure caused injury or loss
- You suffered actual damages as a result of these injuries
Actual damages include –
- Lost wages or time off work because of the injury or loss
- Medical costs and treatment expenses and future expected costs
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
Be aware, that the law expects that if you are injured in an accident that you do what a reasonable person would do: get medical attention for your injuries, follow your doctor’s order exactly, attend all treatment and therapy sessions, and take the medications prescribed by your doctor. If you don’t take the necessary steps to help yourself the amount of damage you collect may be significantly reduced.