Car Accident Frequently Asked Questions
Get the facts on car crashes in Tulsa.
Being involved in a car accident is a traumatic experience in itself, to say nothing of the practical, medical and legal questions that surround any crash. At Lawter & Associates PLLC, we're committed to helping Tulsa residents navigate those issues and get the compensation they need to move forward. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we hear about car accidents in Tulsa.
- How can an attorney show that the other driver was at fault for an accident?
- I think the driver who hit me was asleep at the wheel. Can your law firm help me prove it?
- What if I hit the other vehicle?
- I'm only a little sore, and I have so much to do. Do I really need to see a doctor?
- How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit?
- I keep hearing the term "comparative negligence." What does that mean, and how can one of your attorneys help me figure it out?
- Should I give medical information to the at-fault driver's insurance company?
- When should I accept a settlement for my claim?
In order to collect damages from the other driver or his or her insurance, you'll need to prove negligence on that driver's part. There are several types of negligence that can cause accidents, and each one leaves evidence. For instance, people who text and drive are often involved in rear-end collisions, because they don't pay attention to the vehicles in front of them. Drunk drivers often weave in and out of traffic, stop short or drive on the wrong side of the road.
A thorough investigation of the accident scene will turn up physical evidence of the other driver's negligence, such as skid marks and patterns of property damage. We'll also interview any witnesses to the accident to see if their accounts are consistent with drunk or distracted driving. Anything we can do to show that the other driver was negligent or reckless increases your chances of a winning settlement or judgment.
Many drivers don't realize that driving while exhausted is just as dangerous as driving drunk. To build a case against a fatigued driver, we'll look at the physical evidence from the scene; if the other driver was asleep, there most likely won't be any skid marks because he or she did not hit the brakes before impact. In addition, asleep-at-the-wheel drivers usually have no memory of the accident itself; we can build a case by showing how the driver's comments conflict with witness reports or physical evidence. We may also be able to interview people from the driver's workplace or elsewhere who can testify that he or she was very tired at the time.
Even if you were the driver who actually made contact with the other vehicle, that doesn't necessarily mean you're at fault. Our investigation may show that the other driver was driving recklessly - perhaps by speeding or passing on the right. We may also turn up evidence that the other driver was drunk, distracted or asleep at the wheel. There may have even been a mechanical issue that led to the accident.
Because liability for car accidents is such a complex thing, you should never admit fault to the other driver, a police officer, an insurance representative or any other individual. Instead, call an attorney at Lawter & Associates as soon as possible. When you have us on your side, you can direct anyone seeking comment to talk to one of our experienced lawyers. We'll do everything in our power to show that you were not to blame for the accident.
You absolutely need to see a doctor as soon as possible if you have even the slightest reason to think you are injured. Accidents can cause internal injuries that take time to become readily apparent. Besides getting you the medical care you need to preserve your health, going to a doctor right away is the best possible option for your future personal injury claim. The longer you wait to see a doctor, the easier it is for an insurance company to argue that your injuries may have been suffered after the accident, not as a result of the accident.
In Oklahoma, the statute of limitations for auto accidents is two years. That may seem like a long time, but collecting all the information needed to make a strong case can take time, and the sooner you call an attorney, the better. We make it easy for people injured. You can call Lawter & Associates any time for a free consultation. We can come to you if you can't come to us.
The statute of limitations also means you need a lawyer with the dedication and commitment to work quickly and build you a strong case.
Comparative negligence is a term used in Oklahoma tort law. Essentially, it means that each party's negligence depends on that party's contribution to the accident. In accidents where both parties are equally at fault - for instance, if two motorists each failed to stop at a stop sign - their negligence is considered equal, meaning neither party owes damages to the other. In other cases, one party might be 60, 80 or 100 percent at fault. As such, even if you were partially responsible for the accident, you might be able to collect damages by presenting evidence that the other party was more negligent, or at least reduce your own liability, with an attorney's help.
You should treat any requests for information from the other driver's insurance company with extreme caution. Their goal is to protect their client and reduce their own liability, and any information they collect will be used for that purpose. Consult with one of our attorneys before releasing medical information or answering any other questions from the at-fault driver's insurance company. Remember that a general medical release will allow the insurance company to collect information unrelated to the accident, which can then be used against you.
As with requests for information, you should be immediately suspicious of any financial offer from the at-fault driver or his or her insurance company. Insurance claims adjusters routinely offer "low-ball" amounts in an attempt to settle claims for as little money as possible. Accepting a check could be construed as a settlement of the entire claim, eliminating your ability to sue for future damages. Moreover, in cases where multiple insurance companies are involved, accepting an offer from one company may change another company's liability as well.
Wait until you have completed medical treatment to accept any settlement, as this will make sure you aren't stuck with bills for future medical expenses. Give us a call. We are highly skilled at evaluating offers and can help you determine if you may be eligible for more.
This information is intended to be an overview of the legal challenges that Tulsa residents face in the aftermath of a car accident. To take a closer look at your specific case, contact our Tulsa office at (866) 584-1028 to schedule your free case evaluation.