Who Is at Fault & Who Pays for Damages?
Oklahoma is an “at-fault” state for auto accidents. This means that the person who caused a crash is responsible for compensating other parties involved.
Regardless of fault, you can file a claim for your medical payment or personal injury protection (PIP) benefits if you have that coverage under your auto insurance policy. It will help pay for medical treatment right after the crash. PIP will also provide income while you are unable to work.
If someone else’s share of the fault was 51% percent or more, you can file a claim against their auto insurance liability coverage and attempt to negotiate a settlement with their insurer. You can also seek to recover compensation by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and presenting your case to a jury.
Oklahoma Insurance Requirements
Minimum coverage under state law for auto owners is per-person coverage of $25,000, $50,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage.
That doesn’t always mean the at-fault driver will have coverage or that their policy limits will be sufficient to cover your damages. You can incur $25,000 in medical expenses with just the ambulance ride and emergency room treatment. Your insurance company must offer you uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, but there is no legal requirement for you to accept and pay for it. If you have that coverage, you can file a claim against your own policy should you need it.
Oklahoma Laws Regarding Personal Injury Claims
Oklahoma laws allow victims to hold negligent drivers accountable for their damages; however, there are some requirements that affect those claims.
A time limit applies to settling an insurance claim with the other driver’s insurer or filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. This “statute of limitations” in Oklahoma is two years from the crash date for personal injury claims or two years from the date of death in wrongful death claims.
Oklahoma is also a modified comparative fault state which may result in fault being assigned to more than one vehicle. Any driver found to be 51% or more at fault is prohibited by law to file a claim against anyone else involved.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
When someone else’s wrongful act or negligence causes death, a wrongful death claim may be filed against them. The person filing the claim must prove that the other party owed a duty of care to the decedent, that they did not uphold that duty, and that this failure caused someone’s death.
In Oklahoma, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death action on behalf of the estate to benefit its heirs. If the person had no will when they died, the court will appoint a personal representative, often a surviving spouse or adult child.