Unfortunately, car accidents are common in Oklahoma City and across the state of Oklahoma. Some are relatively minor. However, many crashes are serious. They carry life-altering consequences. These are the car accidents that typically require legal assistance.
The lawyers of Burch, George & Germany, P.C., present the following frequently asked questions and answers about traffic crashes. These are based on our legal knowledge and our experience with helping victims of Oklahoma car accidents.
We understand that your case and your needs are unique. If you have more car accident questions, please contact us today by phone or through our online form if we can provide any further information or assistance to you.
It is the size and weight of a large commercial truck that makes an accident involving a truck so deadly. A truck filled with cargo can weigh up to 80,000 pounds or more. When a vehicle that large runs at 55 mph or faster and slams into a passenger vehicle, the destruction can be horrendous.
If a large truck collides with a passenger car or truck, the passenger vehicle’s occupants are far more likely to be hurt. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says 80 percent of fatal crashes involving large trucks are multiple-vehicle crashes, compared with 58 percent for passenger vehicles.
In a non-fatal truck accident, drivers and riders in passenger vehicles are likely to suffer injuries like head and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), neck and spinal cord injuries or broken bones. In addition to personal injuries, truck crashes cause terrible property damage, including environmental damage when truck accidents cause hazardous chemical spills.
You can learn more by going to our Truck Accidents in Oklahoma infographic or by checking out the NHTSA’s Traffic Safety Facts –Large Trucks.
Personal injury lawyers, like ours at Burch, George & Germany, P.C., protect the rights of people who have been injured or lost loved ones in accidents that were not their fault. If you have been injured in a truck accident or a family member of yours has died, you may be eligible for compensation for the losses you have suffered. But you likely need an experienced truck accident lawyer to get what you deserve.
Often, the company that put a commercial truck on the road is a regional or national trucking company. These companies, also known as “carriers,” have a financial interest in making sure your truck accident does not cost them much money or draw too much attention from federal regulators. They have teams of lawyers, and their insurers have adjustors who are trained to settle matters quickly and inexpensively.
You may have already heard from the trucker’s insurance company and received an initial settlement offer. If you refused it – and, generally speaking, you should refuse it – you can bet their lawyers are going to work to minimize or deflect any blame for the wreck from their trucker or trucking company.
A personal injury attorney experienced with large truck accidents in Oklahoma can equip you with the same legal firepower that the trucker and trucking company is using against you.
To learn more our background and experience, please see the Our Firm page.
Holding negligent people and organizations that injure others responsible for the harm they have done is what we do at Burch, George & Germany, P.C. We can work with you to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve for your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages and other losses if we act quickly.
By thoroughly investigating your truck accident, we can determine the truck driver’s activities prior to the crash and whether he (or she) should be held liable for the accident. From that point, we can negotiate with insurers on your behalf or take your case to court through a lawsuit.
There is evidence available to help us build a case, including but not limited to the crash scene, the damage to the truck and your car and the “black box” event data recorder information on the truck. But this evidence can disappear quickly due to several natural and not-so-natural occurrences. That’s why it is important to start work on your case as soon as possible.
Check out the FMCSA website to learn more about the increasing importance of event data recorders.
In some cases, yes, the carrier that hires a truck driver can be held responsible for a truck accident. This usually requires an independent investigation of the accident by someone or some firm looking out for your interests. That’s not the police or even your insurance company, though.
Just as holding the truck driver liable for your accident, determining whether the carrier has responsibility for your crash will require a thorough investigation of your accident by someone like a Burch, George & Germany, P.C., truck accident lawyer.
Trucking companies are responsible for the trucks and the truck drivers they put on the road. For example, a carrier may be held responsible for a truck accident if maintenance issues caused the wreck. The trucking company would also be liable if it hired a driver who had had been charged with traffic violations or breaking FMCSA rules in the past and it was shown that the driver’s negligence caused your accident. Carriers have also been held liable for pushing their drivers to stay on the road too long in order to meet delivery deadlines.
But, again, it is crucial to begin work as soon as possible so that evidence is not lost or obscured.
Truck accidents can be caused by negligence on the part of the truck driver, the company that hired the driver, or other “third party” people or organizations connected to your crash.
An important study of truck accidents, known as the “The Large Truck Crash Causation Study,” cited numerous factors commonly found in 141,000 commercial truck accidents. They ranged from brake failure to drug use and distracted driving:
Notice that some of these are problems caused by the truck driver’s negligence, such as speeding, drug use, fatigued driving and distracted driving. Some are problems of truck maintenance or faulty equipment, including brake and tire problems and cargo shifts. Work pressure from the trucker’s employer is cited, as is yet another factor in accidents – roadway problems. After a proper investigation, any of several people or organizations, including the local government or a contractor responsible for road conditions, might be held liable for your truck accident.
To learn more, see our page on Types of Truck Accidents.
A truck accident lawyer from Burch, George & Germany, P.C., can assess your truck accident case and the legal options open to you for no charge whatsoever.
If you already have a settlement offer from an insurance company, please bring it to your free initial consultation. We will have an experienced truck accident attorney thoroughly review it. If we believe we cannot help you obtain a better settlement, we will tell you so. If we think we can do better for you, we will explain why and how we plan to do so.
If we move forward together after the initial consultation, we’ll do so on a contingency fee basis. This means you won’t pay us until we obtain a negotiated settlement or a court award for you. Then, our fee will be a percentage of the settlement or award – nothing out of your pocket.
Contact us today to get started.
Immediately after a car accident, if you are not too hurt to act, there are several steps you can take to gather evidence that will help if you pursue a legal claim.
First, you should report the accident to police right away. You will also need to contact your auto insurance company to file a claim.
If you can, take photos of the accident scene, including vehicle positions, damage, skid marks and debris. When you talk to police, answer questions about the accident honestly. However, do not volunteer information. Do not admit fault. Do not blame anyone else.
If you have been hurt, see a doctor as soon as you can. If an ambulance / emergency medical services arrive at the accident scene, follow their instructions. Seeing a doctor or an EMT ensures you are taken care of. It also documents your injuries and the medical care they require. This will be important in a claim for compensation.
The settlement you receive from your car insurance company may depend on several factors, including your policy and your role in the accident. It may also depend on whether you are represented by an experienced Oklahoma car accident attorney.
Liability insurance pays for personal injuries and property damage if you are at fault in a car accident. Therefore, you would seek payment from the other driver’s insurance if he or she caused your crash.
The minimum amount of liability coverage required in Oklahoma is “25/50/25,” or $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 for all persons injured in one accident, and $25,000 for all property damage in one accident. If you have collision insurance, it should pay for damage to your vehicle according to what the policy provides.
You may also have uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This coverage pays for personal injuries caused by an uninsured motorist, an underinsured motorist or a hit-and-run driver. You are not required to carry this coverage in Oklahoma. Still, insurers are required to offer it with every auto insurance policy.
Oklahoma law also embraces the doctrine of “comparative negligence.” In a car accident, each party’s contribution to the accident is considered. For example, the comparative negligence among two drivers may be found to be 80/20 (one is 80 percent at fault, the other is 20 percent). If you are 20 percent at fault, your claim would be reduced by 20 percent. If you have 50 percent or more of the negligence, you would not be compensated for your losses.
An experienced car accident attorney can challenge claims that your negligence contributed to a car accident and thus increase your claim. Your attorney can also pressure a reluctant insurance company to pay a proper settlement in a timely manner.
A settlement after a car accident generally includes compensation for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages and pain and suffering. Our goal is to help our clients get all of the compensation they deserve from every available source.
When you pursue a car accident lawsuit, your attorney will calculate all of your expenses and losses. The attorney will then ask for that sum from the at-fault party’s insurance company.
An attorney will meet with the responsible insurance company representatives to negotiate a settlement. In cases that involve severe or permanent injuries that cause temporary or permanent disability, an appropriate settlement will be considerable.
If the insurer will not agree to a proper payment, the case must be presented in court for judgment.
A full investigation of your car accident may also determine that multiple parties beyond the other driver are liable for your injuries and losses. This could result in one or more lawsuits seeking compensation, which would follow the same course as outlined above.
You can and should pursue a claim to cover your child’s expenses, regardless of the at-fault driver’s age. You must remember that insurance pays such a claim. It does not come out of a teenager’s or his parents’ pockets.
It is an unfortunate fact that young drivers are more likely than adults to engage in negligent behavior that causes car accidents such as speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving and fatigued driving. A majority of those who are injured or killed in car accidents caused by teenage drivers are the at-fault driver’s passengers of similar age.
Like adults, teenage drivers are responsible for their actions behind the wheel. Indeed, learning to drive responsibly is part of becoming an adult. And teenage drivers, like adults, are insured.
Even when teen drivers are on their parents’ auto insurance, compensation is available without financially damaging innocent parents.
You may have a legitimate third-party claim against a vendor who sold alcohol to an underage driver who later caused a car accident.
Unlike other states, Oklahoma does not have a specific “dram shop” law pertaining to businesses’ responsibility for drivers they sell alcohol to. But case law indicates that Oklahoma courts will hold a vendor liable for selling alcohol to drivers who are not yet 21 years old, the legal age for drinking.
A dram shop liability claim may be possible against a store or bar owner who sold alcohol to an underage driver, even without a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction against the driver.
A Burch, George & Germany, P.C., car accident attorney could discuss your case with you for free and do the other necessary work to determine whether we can pursue a claim on your behalf. If we can, we will seek all of the compensation you deserve for your car accident losses.
In most cases, Oklahoma’s statute of limitations for filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is two years after the car accident. But there are exceptions and reasons to start work on a claim as soon as possible.
The two years available to file a claim begins at the date of injury or death. In some personal injury cases, the two years may be counted from a later date on which an injury is diagnosed or otherwise discovered. In cases involving a minor plaintiff, the two years begins once the child turns 18.
Personal injury and wrongful death claims are often complex. They take a long time to develop.
For instance, the investigation of a personal injury case stemming from a car accident requires investigating the accident and the extent of the individual’s injuries. This may involve consulting with outside professionals who perform accident reconstruction work, medical records analysis and financial forecasting. All of this takes time that eats away at a two-year calendar.
We advise Oklahoma car accident victims to contact a personal injury / wrongful death attorney as soon as possible so that work toward a potential legal claim can begin without delay.
Paying a car accident attorney should be the last thing you worry about as you recover from your crash injuries. In fact, we won’t ask for a dime until you have received a settlement or court award from your claim.
Burch, George & Germany, P.C., pursues personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This means any fee paid to us is contingent upon us obtaining compensation for you. Simply put: If you don’t win, you don’t pay.
Once we obtain a satisfactory settlement or a court order in your lawsuit, our fee will be a percentage of the total award. We will agree to this percentage when you ask us to represent you.
Before that, we will meet with you to discuss your case and outline how we can help you. We will do this for no charge, regardless of whether you pursue a claim with our legal help.
To learn more, simply contact us today.
Contact our law firm if you have more car accident questions. You can reach us through our online contact form or call us at 405-213-0678 for a free consultation.