Whether in a minor car accident or a severe head-on collision, determining who is at fault for the accident and how much to compensate for the injured person is difficult. Relief for injuries usually refers to monetary compensation, also called "damages," which are generally broken down into economic and non-economic compensation. Like other states, Oklahoma has its own laws that determine the amount of damages you can recover.
Read on to learn about the Oklahoma laws that could substantially affect your accident case.
Oklahoma Car Accident Compensation Laws: At a Glance
Below is a table outlining important aspects of Oklahoma's car accident compensation laws, including limits on damages and the statute of limitations.
|Statute of Limitations
|Under Tit. 12 § 95(3), the statute of limitations is two years for most personal injury and property damage lawsuits.
|Limits on Damages
| Under Tit. 23 § 61.2, the cap on non-economic damages generally is $350,000. Under Tit. 53 § 1-1708.1F, the cap for non-economic damages of certain medical malpractice claims is $300,000. Exception: There is no cap if the judge and jury find, by clear and convincing evidence, that the defendant's acts or failure to act were: (1) in reckless disregard for the right of others; (2) grossly negligent; (3) fraudulent; or (4) intentional or with malice.
|Under Tit. 23 § 13-14, Oklahoma uses the modified comparative fault rule which may prevent or diminish recovery of damages.
Note: State laws are always subject to change at any time, usually through the enactment of newly passed legislation but sometimes through higher court decisions and other means. You want to contact an Oklahoma personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Types of Damages Allowed in Oklahoma
There are usually two types of damages to consider in a car accident: economic and non-economic. While economic damages refer to the more direct, specific costs you've incurred as a result of your injury or damage to property, non-economic damages are the more abstract costs of an accident, like emotional distress and the loss of spousal companionship due to some serious bodily injury.
Examples of economic damages include:
- Car repairs or the cost of replacement
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Loss of affection or companionship
Limits on Damages in Oklahoma
Oklahoma does not have a cap on economic damages from bodily injury (such as medical expenses or lost wages). However, it does limit non-economic claims based on bodily injury, with a few exceptions (such as the defendant's gross negligence). Also, claims are time-sensitive, as you have only two years from the date of the accident to file most lawsuits in court. This time limit is known as a statute of limitations.
"Comparative Fault" Rules Apply in Oklahoma
Oklahoma follows a "modified comparative fault" version of contributory negligence. This rule states that if you were partially to blame for causing the accident, you may only recover damages if your negligence is not greater than that of the other party or parties combined. In other words, to recover these damages, you must be 50% or less at fault for the accident.
Additionally, if you are partly to blame, any damages that are awarded will be reduced in proportion to the degree that you were at fault. For example, if you were 10% at fault and the other driver was 90% at fault, you may file a lawsuit, but an award of $1000 will be reduced by $100.
Have More Questions About Oklahoma Car Accident Compensation Laws? Ask a Lawyer
Understanding the comparative fault rules and damages caps governing a car accident in Oklahoma is vital to a successful recovery of damages. To learn more about the strength of your case, it's a good idea to consult with an experienced car accident attorney who will be familiar with all of Oklahoma's car accident compensation laws.