Being involved in a car accident is a distressing experience, and when the other driver is intoxicated, it adds an additional layer of complexity and concern. Drunk driving accidents can result in severe injuries, property damage, and even fatalities. In Oklahoma, where the prevalence of drunk driving incidents remains a concern, understanding your rights and responsibilities in such situations is crucial. This article will guide you through the necessary steps to take if you’re hit by a drunk driver in Oklahoma and shed light on the legal requirements in place to protect victims.
Prioritize Safety and Seek Medical Attention:
The first and most important step after any accident is to ensure the safety of yourself and others involved. Call 911 immediately to report the incident and request medical assistance if needed. It is crucial to prioritize your health and well-being by seeking medical attention, even if you believe your injuries are minor. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent and could worsen over time.
Gather Information and Document the Scene:
While waiting for authorities to arrive, collect as much information as possible about the accident. Take pictures of the accident scene, including the positions of the vehicles, any visible damages, skid marks, and road conditions. Obtain the drunk driver’s contact details, insurance information, and driver’s license information. Additionally, gather contact information from any witnesses present at the scene. Such documentation can be invaluable for insurance claims and legal proceedings.
Contact Law Enforcement:
It is essential to involve law enforcement when you’ve been hit by a drunk driver. They will investigate the incident and file an accident report. Request a copy of the report as it will serve as crucial evidence when pursuing legal action. The report typically contains information about the driver’s impairment, field sobriety test results, and any arrests made.
Notify Your Insurance Company:
Inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Provide them with accurate and detailed information regarding the incident. Cooperate fully with their investigation. However, it is important to consult an experienced attorney before providing any statements to the insurance company of the drunk driver. They can guide you on how to protect your rights and ensure you receive fair compensation for your damages.
Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney:
To navigate the legal complexities and maximize your chances of receiving appropriate compensation, it is crucial to consult an experienced personal injury attorney specializing in drunk driving accidents. They will help protect your rights and guide you through the legal process. An attorney will gather evidence, interview witnesses, negotiate with insurance companies, and, if necessary, file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Oklahoma Legal Requirements for Drunk Driving Accidents:
Oklahoma has specific legal requirements in place to address drunk driving accidents and protect victims. These include:
- Criminal Penalties: In Oklahoma, driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious criminal offense. Offenders may face fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, probation, and even imprisonment. The severity of the penalties depends on factors such as prior DUI convictions, blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and the presence of aggravating circumstances.
- Civil Liability: In addition to criminal charges, drunk drivers can be held civilly liable for the damages they cause. Victims have the right to pursue compensation for medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other losses incurred as a result of the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney will assist in evaluating your case and determining the appropriate course of action.
- Dram Shop Liability: Oklahoma also holds establishments accountable for over-serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals. Victims injured by drunk drivers may have a legal claim against bars, restaurants, or other establishments that negligently served alcohol to the intoxicated driver.
Understand Comparative Fault Laws in Oklahoma:
When pursuing a personal injury claim after being hit by a drunk driver in Oklahoma, it’s important to understand the state’s comparative fault laws. Oklahoma follows a modified comparative negligence system, which means that if you are found partially responsible for the accident, your compensation may be reduced proportionately.
For example, if it is determined that you were 20% at fault for the accident and the total damages amount to $100,000, your compensation would be reduced by 20%, resulting in a final award of $80,000. However, if you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you may be barred from recovering any compensation.
Your attorney will work to build a strong case by gathering evidence and presenting arguments to minimize any potential blame assigned to you. It’s crucial to have legal representation to ensure that your rights are protected and that any comparative fault determinations are fair and accurate.
Be Aware of the Statute of Limitations:
In Oklahoma, there is a time limit, known as the statute of limitations, within which you must file a personal injury lawsuit. The statute of limitations for drunk driving accidents in Oklahoma is generally two years from the date of the accident. Failing to file a lawsuit within this timeframe can result in the court dismissing your case and being unable to seek compensation for your injuries.
It’s important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident to ensure that all necessary legal actions are taken within the prescribed time limits. Promptly seeking legal advice will help protect your rights and allow your attorney to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and build a strong case on your behalf.
Seek Comprehensive Compensation:
When pursuing a personal injury claim after being hit by a drunk driver, it’s crucial to seek comprehensive compensation for all your losses. This includes not only immediate medical expenses and property damage but also future medical costs, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and rehabilitation expenses.
An experienced personal injury attorney will work diligently to calculate the full extent of your damages and ensure that all relevant factors are considered when seeking compensation. We will negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf and, if necessary, present your case in court to secure a fair settlement or judgment.
Being involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver is a traumatic experience. However, understanding the necessary steps to take can help protect your rights and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been hit by a drunk driver in Oklahoma, prioritize safety, gather information, involve law enforcement, notify your insurance company, and consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. By following these guidelines, you can navigate the legal process with confidence and increase your chances of obtaining fair compensation for your injuries and losses.
If you’ve been a victim of a drunk driving accident in Oklahoma, don’t wait to seek legal representation. Contact the Murray Law Firm today to schedule a consultation with our experienced team of personal injury attorneys. We are committed to fighting for your rights and helping you obtain the compensation you deserve.