Oklahoma City Car Accident Lawyers
Motor Vehicle Accidents in Oklahoma
Despite significant improvements in automobiles and the design of roads, motor vehicle accidents remain one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2020 saw the highest number of traffic-related deaths in the U.S. since 2007, with more than 38,000 lives lost. Although there were fewer crashes in 2020 than the previous year, the fatal crash rate rose by nearly 7 percent. Simply put, driving is becoming more dangerous, and more people are dying on our nation’s highways and roads now than in the past decade and a half.
We offer a different approach, one that is collaborative, client-focused, and results-oriented. Our Oklahoma City car accident attorneys work to level the playing field and put the power back in the hands of everyday people, rather than already powerful insurance companies. Our aggressive approach to litigation has helped us recover millions of dollars in compensation for our clients, and we are prepared to fight tirelessly for the full, fair recovery you are owed.
What You Need to Know About Oklahoma Car Accident Laws
If you are involved in a car accident in Oklahoma City or elsewhere in the state, there are several things you should know to protect yourself, your rights, and your recovery.
First, it’s important that you know that you only have two years from the date of the accident (or injury) to file a car accident lawsuit. If this statute of limitations expires before you file your suit, you will almost certainly lose your right to sue the liable party for damages. The same is true if your loved one tragically passed away due to a fatal car accident; you generally have just two years to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Reach out to our Oklahoma City car accident attorneys to learn more.
You should also know that Oklahoma follows a traditional fault-based, or “tort,” system when it comes to car insurance and accident claims. Under this system, you must typically bring a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company to receive compensation for your losses. This involves proving the other party’s fault, proving your injuries, and proving the nature and extent of your damages.
Oklahoma also follows a “modified comparative negligence” rule. Under this rule, you are unable to recover compensation if you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident. If the insurance adjuster and/or court finds you 50 percent or more to blame, you may not file a claim nor recover any compensation for your accident-related losses.
Even if you are found to be less than 50 percent at fault, your recovery will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you are seeking $100,000 in damages after a severe car accident, but the court finds you 30 percent at fault for the crash, you may only recover up to 70 percent of that amount, or $70,000.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
Many factors contribute to automobile accidents, but the most common one is negligence. Often, it is another motorist who acts negligently, leading to a crash. However, in some cases, the negligence of a manufacturer, construction company, or another third party can result in a devastating or deadly motor vehicle accident.
Statistically, some of the most common causes of car accidents include:
- Distracted driving, including texting while driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Reckless or aggressive driving
- Road rage
- Disobeying red lights, stop signs, and other traffic control devices
- Dangerous and illegal turns, lane changes, and merging
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Unsafe or unlawful passing
- Poor visibility
- Inclement weather
- Unsafe or defective road conditions
- Defective roadways
- Poor or inadequate roadway maintenance
- Insufficient vehicle maintenance
- Auto defects, including defective design, defective tires, and engine defects
Our Oklahoma City car accident lawyers carefully review the facts of each case to determine how an accident occurred. We often work with accident reconstructionists and other experts who help us identify third-party negligence and other contributing factors. In many cases, these specialists provide crucial expert testimony on behalf of our clients. In every instance, we use all available resources to build powerful, innovative cases aimed at securing the maximum compensation you are owed.
Auto defects often contribute to—or even directly cause—serious and deadly accidents.
Some of the most common auto defects associated with traffic accidents include:
- Unsafe vehicle design, such as top-heavy SUVs that roll over easily
- Seatbelt, airbag, and other safety equipment defects
- Tire defects, leading to tire blowouts
- Faulty accelerators, braking systems, and engine components
Even at relatively low speeds, an auto defect can have catastrophic consequences. Motorists may lose control of their vehicles or become involved in rollovers, rear-end collisions, head-on crashes, and other severe accidents.
By conducting exhaustive accident investigations and meticulously reviewing all available evidence, our team is able to determine whether an auto defect contributed to or caused an accident. If necessary, we are fully prepared to bring product liability claims against automotive companies, manufacturers, and other liable parties. We have a long history of success handling complex claims against all types of powerful entities, and we are known for our willingness to go to trial.
However, to ensure you receive everything you are entitled to recover, you should try to take the following steps as well:
- File a Police Report and Exchange Information with Others Involved: Immediately after being involved in a car accident, it is important to initiate a police report and exchange valuable information with the other people involved in the accident, such as names, phone numbers, and license and insurance information. Many people even go take their own photos of the damaged vehicles, traffic signals, skid marks, and debris. However, a common mistake you want to avoid is accepting liability for the accident by apologizing or admitting fault. Often, insurance companies will attempt to use your statements—even something like, “I’m so sorry!”—to attribute fault to you. The best course of action is to simply provide an accurate, honest, and detailed statement of exactly what happened and let the police officers and insurance companies determine fault based on their investigations.
- Write Down Everything You Can Remember About the Crash: After any traffic accident, you should immediately seek medical attention to determine what injuries the accident may have caused. You should also notify your insurance company and the other party’s insurance company as soon as possible to open a claim. Keeping an organized paper trail of medical records, bills, and all communication with both your insurer and the third-party insurer is essential, as is keeping a journal documenting all the issues that may not be apparent in your medical records. A consistent written history of everything describing your pain, symptoms, treatments, and the daily impact your injuries have on you and your family is critical. Your journal, along with the written details of all conversations with adjusters, is extremely important in proving pain and suffering and other losses related to the accident.
- Use Caution When Signing Authorization Forms: As part of an insurance company’s investigation, you will likely be overwhelmed with letters and requests regarding your claim. Insurance adjusters will ask you to sign authorization forms in order to obtain medical records and bills from health providers, as well as wage information from your employer. Although your insurance policy may require that you sign one of these authorizations, you are not required to give your insurance company full access to all of your personal medical and employment information. Be sure to carefully read the authorization requested of you and limit the personal information the insurance company can access by restricting the language of the form to the treatment received from the accident or the days missed/wages lost for missed work due to the accident. You may explain to the other party’s insurance company that you will supply all significant and material documents, records, and bills once obtained or when treatment is completed in an effort to avoid signing an authorization.
- Ask About Your Coverage: Ask your insurance company to describe in detail the types of coverages associated with your policy, as well the potential coverages that may apply to your claim. This is particularly important if your policy includes medical payment (MedPay) coverage and/or uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. Request a copy of your policy and declaration page and carefully read the policy to make sure the insurance adjuster does not overlook or withhold any information or obligations.
- Avoid Discussing the Accident or Posting About It on Social Media: Limiting your conversations to those directly involved with the investigation of your claim or the medical treatment of your injuries from the accident is an additional protective measure to ensure your claim is handled properly. This might also include restricting communication between you and the insurance provider for the person that injured you. It is important to remember the insurance company of the person who injured you does not have the same obligations to you as your own insurer. Their job is to protect the person that injured you. It is also important to limit or even avoid online posts or discussions about your auto accident, injuries, or medical treatments on social media accounts or blogs to prevent anyone from misconstruing or misunderstanding your comments or photos while your claim is being handled.
- Talk to a Lawyer Before Signing a Release Form or Accepting a Settlement: Almost all insurance companies intend to settle and close claims at the earliest possible opportunity. An insurance company will do this by making a settlement offer and asking for you to sign a release of liability form. By signing the release form, you are agreeing to accept their settlement offer for damages and bring your claim to a close. More importantly, by doing so, you are relinquishing your rights to take any further legal action or bring any additional damages for your claim. Due to the nature of injuries and loss associated with automotive accidents, it is always safe to wait until you are no longer in need of medical treatment or suffering any other type of physical, emotional, or financial loss.
One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself after an accident is to contact an experienced and aggressive attorney, like those at Fulmer Sill.
With decades of collective experience, our Oklahoma City car accident attorneys have the resources, skills, and in-depth legal knowledge to effectively and aggressively advocate for you.
We invite you to contact us today to learn more during a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.