Personal Injury -- Plaintiff Law
Oklahoma Personal Injury Laws
A painful and debilitating injury can turn your world upside down. Your overall quality of life could be affected, you may need to miss time at work for your medical care, and those doctors’ bills can add up quickly. That’s a lot of stress to put on someone who’s also just trying to heal and feel comfortable.
If another person did something to cause your injury, however, they may be legally responsible for providing you with financial compensation. Whether it’s for economic damages, like the cost of your medical care, non-economic damages, like your pain and suffering, or both, a personal injury lawsuit could get you a monetary award to help you get your life a little more back to normal.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Almost any kind of physical or mental injury that you experience is considered a personal injury. In nearly every case, property damage is separate from a personal injury issue.
A personal injury that someone else inflicted on you could be intentional or accidental; your right to recover damages may still apply either way. A personal injury lawsuit is a specific type of case that allows you to sue the person who hurt you, potentially requiring them to pay you for the damage they caused.
Intentional Personal Injury
An intentional personal injury is the result of another person’s intentional efforts to make contact with you. If a friend is playful shoving you without the intent to hurt you, but you’re accidentally knocked over and break an arm, they could still be liable for intentional harm. They didn’t mean to hurt you, but they did mean to make contact with you.
Likewise, if an unruly stranger wants to fight and hits you with the intent to cause harm, that can also be considered an intentional injury. Assault and battery cases may be charged as intentional torts in civil court, where you’d file your lawsuit seeking financial compensation, but they could also be separately tried as crimes in a criminal court as well.
Negligent and Reckless Personal Injury
It probably seems obvious that if a person hurts you on purpose, they should be responsible for the cost of your care, but what about if they hurt you by accident? That issue could seem a little less clear.
In most cases, an accidental injury can still be the grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. This is especially common in cases of negligence or recklessness.
In these cases, the harm was caused by an accident, but an accident that could have been prevented if the injurer had been more careful. This usually applies to a level of care that a reasonable person would expect someone else to have. For example, a reasonable person would expect drivers not to speed excessively though the center of town. If a person does do that, however, and they hit a pedestrian who crossed expecting the vehicle to be moving much slower, that driver could be liable for negligent injury. The driver didn’t intend to make contact with the person in the road, but they did, and they could have prevented it by exercising more care.
Note, however, that Oklahoma is a “comparative negligence” state; the amount of money you can collect from someone else’s negligence depends on how negligent you were at the time as well. If the speeding car was driving negligently, but you were negligently crossing the road at a “don’t walk” sign, you may have contributed to the cause of your injury through your own negligence. The court will reduce your compensation according to how much you contributed to the accident. If they think you’re 20 percent at fault, you likely can’t collect more than 80 percent of what you’re seeking. If your fault rises above 50 percent, however, expect that you won’t be awarded anything.
Strict Liability Personal Injury
Some accidents happen even when a person is taking all the right safety measures, but that doesn’t automatically absolve them from all responsibility. Under the rules of strict liability, some people could still be held accountable for certain kinds of non-negligent accidental injuries.
Product liability is a common strict liability case. It doesn’t necessarily matter if a manufacturer had the right safety features in place when they made a certain product; if something accidentally goes wrong during one item’s production and that item then hurts a consumer, the manufacturer could be responsible for those medical costs.
How Do I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Oklahoma?
To file your lawsuit you’ll need to collect your evidence, like medical records and witness statements, and examine the facts and laws related to your case. Then you’ll need to file it with the appropriate court.
There are many strict procedures that relate to filing a lawsuit, and making any mistakes along the way could negatively affect the outcome.
The timing of when you file matters, for one thing. The Oklahoma statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is usually two years from the date of the injury. If you wait too long to file, without one of the few valid exceptions, you may not be allowed to sue. You should also keep the damages cap in mind. In Oklahoma, you may be subject to a $350,000 limit on your non-economic damages for most personal injury lawsuits.
A personal injury attorney would be a helpful asset for navigating the complexity of a personal injury lawsuit, which could help you get a more favorable outcome.