Car accidents are a common fact of life. Most of us have been in at least one, and likely more. If you came away unscathed, you’re lucky: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic fatalities in the U.S. reached their highest point in 16 years in 2021, and injuries are on the rise, too. What if you weren’t one of the lucky ones? Read on to see how a Tulsa car accident lawyer may be able to help you.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Oklahoma
Oklahoma is no exception to the high rate of car and motorcycle accidents: The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office found 181 crashes that resulted in a death or injury per day in 2021, a total of 66,074 overall and a 7% increase over the previous year. These are the most common causes of accidents:
- Speeding: Speeding is one of the biggest causes of death or injury in Oklahoma car accidents, playing a role in nearly 12% of cases.
- Alcohol: In Oklahoma, alcohol was a factor in 4.3% of injury-related car accidents–and a factor in 25% of fatal ones. If you were hit by a drunk driver, you’ll likely have a good case to bring to an Oklahoma auto accident lawyer.
- Large trucks: Large trucks were involved in 8.4% of accidents that resulted in death or injury, and the number of truck accidents is on the rise.
- Dangerous intersections: Oklahoma has some infamously dangerous intersections, such asBelle Isle and Northwest Expressway in Oklahoma City, while those in Tulsa know 106th and South Memorial or 71st and Mingo. Determining liability in these cases is key.
- Distracted or tired driving: Whether the driver is texting, looking up directions, eating, or turning around in their seat to deal with fighting children, distracted driving is dangerous. Tired driving can be even worse. These actions are a choice, and some drivers make the wrong one.
Important Things to Know When You've Been in A Car Accident
When you’ve just been in a car accident, you’re probably pretty shaken up. If you’re able to get out of the car and handle the situation, there are some specific actions you should take. Here’s what we recommend in the minutes, days, and weeks after the crash.
- Do: Get yourself and others out of the car if you can. Take pictures and video of the scene, and write down the contact, insurance, and license information of the other driver. Make an audio recording for a record of what the other driver says after the crash, and also get contact information for any witnesses.
- Don’t: Admit fault.
- Do: Contact your insurance company to report the accident and get the ball rolling on the insurance underwriting process.
- Don’t: Lie or embellish your story. You will need to repeat what happened often, so keeping it simple and truthful is best.
- Do: Seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you don’t think you’re injured. Injuries that appear minor can turn out to cause problems down the line. Keep all your medical records and bills.
- Don’t: Post on social media or speak to the opposing party’s insurance company. This can hurt your case in the future.
- Do: Contact the best Oklahoma car accident lawyer you can find to evaluate your claim and start the process of getting you the compensation you deserve. Sooner is always better, but remember that there is a two-year statute of limitations on these claims in Oklahoma, meaning you can only file a lawsuit up to two years after the date of the accident.
- Don’t: Accept a settlement from the opposing party’s insurance company. Take it to your attorney to evaluate.
How Do I Know Who’s at Fault?
Determining who is at fault is the most important step–and of course, you only have a case if you are not at fault in a car accident. Oklahoma uses a “modified comparative fault” rule to determine liability, which means rather than just “at fault” or “not at fault,” insurance adjusters will assign a percentage of fault to each party.
For example, if you’re found 25% at fault, you’ll be responsible for 25% of the other party’s damages. That would make them 75% at fault, and they’ll pay for 75% of your damages. You must be found less than 50% at fault to have a claim. It all depends on the insurance companies’ claims adjusters–or in a lawsuit, the judge or jury. They’ll look at:
- Witness statements
- Police reports
- Photos, videos, and audio recordings from the scene
- Surveillance video
- The damage to the vehicles
- Evidence of alcohol, drugs, distractions, or other impairments
Putting together a good argument for why you were not at fault can be the difference between getting compensation and walking away empty-handed. An Oklahoma car accident lawyer can help.
When Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer?
If your crash is minor and there weren’t any injuries, you may not need to hire a lawyer. Car crashes that only result in damage to the vehicles are typically easy to resolve through insurance. But when injuries or fatalities are involved, you might have large medical bills, long-term rehabilitation needs, lost wages, and pain and suffering–all of which you can be compensated for. That’s when hiring the right lawyer can be a valuable move.
How Can a Car Accident Attorney Help Me?
The best lawyers have decades of experience handling car accident claims. They can put that experience to work to:
Help Determine Liability
The percentage of liability you’re assigned not only determines whether you have a case, but also affects how much compensation you’ll receive. An attorney will help investigate your car accident, evaluate police reports, get statements from witnesses, and prove you weren’t at fault.
Calculate Your Claim
Lots of medical bills means lots of paperwork, but adding up those numbers and calculating any future payments you may have is important to determine how much you’re owed. Plus, you might have a claim for pain and suffering, which is a type of “non-economic” damage that is even harder to calculate. An attorney can help you figure out a good number to ask for your settlement.
Deal With Insurance Companies
Insurance companies don’t profit by making large payments to everyone who gets in a car accident. They are not your friend, and they’ll try to poke holes in your claim as much as they can. They may threaten you or even refuse to communicate at all. We’ve seen it all before, and know exactly what to do to maximize your case value.
Negotiate a Better Settlement, Faster
Your attorney’s experience means they know all the insurance companies’ best moves. They’ll be able to aggressively negotiate a fair and full settlement or present a strong case in court, if needed. And they’ll be able to do it faster, because they’re familiar with the entire process and are there to fight for you.
The Bottom Line
Car accidents can be traumatic, both physically and emotionally–and they can affect your bank account, too. If you or someone you love has been injured in a crash, an Oklahoma auto accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve. Get a free case evaluation from the Oklahoma Injury Guy and we’ll help you determine how to move forward.
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