Sometimes, it can be relatively easy to identify the at-fault driver in a car accident. For example, if you’re following the rules of the road and a drunk driver hits you while going the wrong way, there’s not much room for debate. Unfortunately, most injury claims are less clear-cut, and it’s not uncommon to have several people whose driving errors contributed to a crash.
In these situations, Oklahoma’s comparative negligence laws help a judge or jury determine who is responsible, and how much compensation victims can recover after a crash. If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a car wreck, keep reading to learn about how Oklahoma’s comparative negligence law could impact your car accident claim.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Oklahoma is one of 33 states that apply modified comparative negligence rules for car accidents. This means that when a victim is partially at fault for their injuries, the courts will reduce their compensation proportionately.
For example, imagine you’re driving in a residential neighborhood, going five miles per hour over the speed limit, when you are suddenly struck by a drunk driver who ran a stop sign. A jury might find you 10% at fault since you were speeding. If you had $100,000 in unpaid medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering, you would receive $90,000 in compensation for your injuries.
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However, that doesn’t mean that every at-fault driver can get compensation. Oklahoma’s comparative negligence laws also include a “51% bar.” This states that if the victim is more than 50% responsible for the accident, they cannot recover damages or receive financial compensation.
For example, if you are going 20 miles per hour over the speed limit when you are struck by a drunk driver who ran a stop sign, a jury could find you 51% liable for the accident, based on your reckless driving. In that case, you would not receive any compensation from the other driver.
How Do You Calculate Fault in an Oklahoma Car Accident?
Allocating fault in a car accident doesn’t involve a simple calculation. Instead, judges, juries, and insurance adjusters weigh the evidence and consider all of the circumstances surrounding the crash.
However, it’s not uncommon for insurance adjusters to skew their assessments to reduce a crash victim’s financial recovery. For example, imagine you are at an intersection, trying to turn left. You keep an eye on traffic, and think you have enough space to turn safely. As you enter the intersection, you realize that you underestimated the speed of an approaching car. The other driver, who is clearly speeding, smashes into your car while you turn. Both you and the other driver are at fault, but by how much?
While you may think that the other driver was at fault, their insurance company could disagree. In fact, the insurance adjuster may argue that you were distracted and could have avoided the crash. This could lead the insurance company to assign you 51% or more of the fault in the crash.
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To fight back, you’ll need support from an experienced injury lawyer who can carefully investigate the circumstances surrounding your crash, emphasize the other party’s negligence, and demand fair compensation for your injuries.
Atkins & Markoff: Providing Support After an Oklahoma Car Crash
At Atkins & Markoff, we understand how devastating a car accident can be for victims and their families. Our car accident lawyers help people sort out complicated comparative negligence issues and get fair compensation for their injuries. We pride ourselves on our honest, compassionate advice and skilled legal advocacy.
Okla. Stat. tit. 23 §13 (1979).
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.