Car accidents are some of Oklahoma's leading causes of injury and death, with thousands occurring each year. According to recent statistics published by the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, 66,074 crashes occurred in 2021, resulting in 30,195 injuries and 762 fatalities. We can see an upward trend in car crashes, with 2019 and 2020 having 640 and 654 deaths, respectively. These alarming numbers highlight the importance of understanding Oklahoma car accident laws.
In the state, car accident laws govern everything, from who is responsible for paying for damages to how long you have to file a claim. If you are involved in a car accident, being aware of these laws will protect you and help you receive the compensation you deserve.
Oklahoma Speeding Law
In 2021, speeding caused 7,740 crashes in Oklahoma. Of this number, 187 resulted in fatalities and 2,981 in injuries. The Oklahoma Speeding Law sets specific road speed limits and establishes penalties for violators.
The maximum speed limit on most highways is 75 miles per hour. However, lower speed limits may apply in certain areas, such as schools or construction zones. Additionally, drivers must reduce their speed to a reasonable level, given the road conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit.
The general guidelines for absolute speed limits in Oklahoma are as follows:
25 mph in most school zones
35 mph in state parks or wildlife refuges
45 mph on highways within state parks or wildlife refuges
55 mph on county roads
65 mph on two-lane highways
75 mph on four-lane highways or interstates.
Penalties for violating Oklahoma's speeding laws depend on the circumstances of the offense. For example, a driver who exceeds the speed limit by 1 to 10 mph may be subject to a $10 fine, while driving 36 mph or more over the limit may lead to a $205 fine. Repeat offenders face more severe penalties, including jail time and license revocation. Note that speeding in protected areas may result in double fines and penalties.
Oklahoma Flow of Traffic Law
The Oklahoma Flow of Traffic Law is meant to ensure that cars can move along roads safely and quickly. It says that drivers must go with the flow of traffic and not get in the way of other cars moving in a normal way.
Under this law, drivers must maintain a speed appropriate for road conditions and traffic flow. If a driver is traveling at a speed significantly slower than the surrounding traffic, they may be considered an obstruction and receive a ticket for impeding the flow of traffic.
Note that the Flow of Traffic law says that drivers can't go faster than the posted speed limit. However, it recognizes that traveling at a speed significantly slower than other vehicles on the road can create a safety hazard.
Violations of the Oklahoma Flow of Traffic Law can result in fines and other penalties. If you have been cited for violating this law or have been involved in a car accident related to the flow of traffic, speak with an experienced Oklahoma traffic attorney to understand your legal rights and options.
Oklahoma Impaired Driving Law
In 2021, 2,869 crashes in Oklahoma involving alcohol-impaired drivers led to 195 fatalities and 1,798 injuries. This represents a 2% decrease in deaths and a 7.5% increase in injury crashes from 2020.
Oklahoma's Impaired Driving Law prohibits intoxicated individuals from operating motor vehicles. A driver is considered to be under the influence if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher or are found to be under the influence of any substance that impairs their ability to operate a vehicle safely.
First-time offenders convicted of DUI in Oklahoma are required to use an interlock device for 18 months. Second-time offenders must use an interlock device for four years if their blood BAC exceeds 0.08. Any subsequent DUI convictions will result in a mandatory five-year interlock device usage period.
Penalties for violating Oklahoma's impaired driving law can be severe. For a first offense where the individual is guilty of a misdemeanor, they may face fines of not more than $1,000 and jail time of 10 to 365 days. People who break the law more than once face harsher punishments, such as longer license suspensions, higher fines, and even being sent to the Department of Corrections.
In addition to the legal consequences, impaired driving can have serious safety implications. When drivers are high on drugs or alcohol, they might not be able to make good decisions, react quickly enough, or move together well, which makes them more likely to get into an accident.
Oklahoma Mobile Phone Driving Law
Distracted driving might seem like a trivial offense, but it can cause much harm. To address this problem, the state passed the Oklahoma Mobile Phone Driving Law, which prohibits drivers from using electronic devices while operating motor vehicles. Under this law, they cannot text, email, browse the internet, or make phone calls unless a hands-free device is used. Penalties for violating the Oklahoma Mobile Phone Driving Law include fines of not more than $100 and potentially even license suspension for repeat offenders.
This law does not apply if a person uses their electronic communication device solely to communicate with certain entities regarding an urgent emergency. Such entities include emergency response operators, hospitals, ambulance services, firefighting services, and law enforcement agencies.
Oklahoma Seat Belt Law
In 2021, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office found that 259 of 762 fatality victims were not using safety belts or child restraints. In 2,283 of those who sustained injuries, a lack of seat belts was also a problem.
The Oklahoma Seat Belt Law requires that all drivers and passengers in a vehicle, regardless of their age or position, wear a seat belt at all times. This law is designed to improve road safety and reduce the risk of injury or death in a traffic accident. It applies to all motor vehicles, including passenger cars, trucks, and vans.
Under this law, the driver of the vehicle is responsible for ensuring that all passengers are wearing their seat belts. The fine for a seat belt violation in Oklahoma is $20, but it can increase to $50 if it occurs in a highway work zone.
Child Restraint Violations
Oklahoma also has a Child Passenger Restraint Law, which requires that all children under the age of eight be properly secured in a passenger restraint system or booster seat while in a vehicle. The law ensures that children are protected in cars and reduces the risk of injury or death in the event of a car accident.
It is vital for parents and caregivers to choose the appropriate safety or booster seat for their children based on their age, weight, and height. The child safety or booster seat must be put in the vehicle correctly and securely to ensure maximum protection during a car accident.
The penalties for violating Oklahoma's Child Passenger Restraint Law can be significant. A first-time violation results in fines of up to $50, while subsequent offenses result in fines of up to $100.
Oklahoma Move Over Law
The Oklahoma Move Over Law requires drivers to move over or slow down when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle or a vehicle displaying flashing lights on the side of the road. The law is designed to protect emergency responders, highway workers, and others who might be working on or near the roadway.
Violations of the Oklahoma Move Over Law can result in fines and points on a driver's license. The fines for a first offense range from $100 to $1,000, and subsequent offenses result in higher fines and even license suspension.
Oklahoma Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements
Oklahoma follows the 25/50/25 system in its minimum auto insurance requirements. All drivers must have at least a certain amount of auto insurance in order to legally drive a car. The minimum auto insurance requirements are as follows:
$50,000 for death and bodily injury per person
$100,000 for death and bodily injury per incident
$25,000 for property damage
Note that the minimum auto insurance requirements in Oklahoma might not provide sufficient coverage in the event of a serious car accident. Drivers should consider purchasing additional coverage beyond the minimum requirements to provide greater protection for themselves and their assets.
Essentially, operating a motor vehicle in Oklahoma without valid auto insurance coverage is illegal. If you don't have the minimum car insurance, you could be fined or face other legal consequences.
Oklahoma Is a Fault State for Insurance Claims
Oklahoma follows the fault insurance system, which means drivers who have caused accidents must pay for the economic and non-economic losses of victims. This contrasts with no-fault states, where each driver's insurance company pays for their own damages, regardless of who is at fault.
In Oklahoma, drivers are required to carry liability insurance to cover the damages or injuries they might cause in a car accident. Liability insurance will typically cover the cost of repairs or replacement for property damage, medical expenses, and lost wages for anyone injured in the accident.
The drivers' insurance companies will investigate the accident to determine who is at fault in the event of a crash. The at-fault driver's insurance company will then be responsible for paying for the damages resulting from the accident.
However, it is not always clear who is at fault, and insurance companies could dispute the determination of fault. In these cases, it might be necessary to take legal action to obtain compensation.
Oklahoma Is a Modified Comparative Fault State for Car Accident Lawsuits
When it comes to car accident lawsuits, Oklahoma applies the modified comparative fault rule. This means that the court will consider the degree of fault of each party involved in the accident and assign a percentage of responsibility. The plaintiff's damages will then be reduced by their percentage of fault.
Under this law, if the plaintiff is found to be 50% or more at fault for the accident, they cannot recover damages from the other parties involved. However, if the plaintiff is found to be less than 50% at fault, they may still recover damages, which will be reduced by their percentage of fault.
For example, if a plaintiff in an Oklahoma car accident lawsuit is awarded $100,000 in damages but is found to be 20% at fault for the accident, their damages will be reduced by 20%, and they will receive $80,000.
If you are involved in a car accident in Oklahoma, consult an experienced car accident attorney to understand your rights. An attorney can help you navigate the legal system and help you receive maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.
Oklahoma Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
If you are involved in a car accident in Oklahoma, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party for damages. If the lawsuit is not filed within the two-year time limit, the court will likely dismiss the case, and you will be unable to recover compensation for your injuries or property damage. Thus, promptly taking legal action is crucial.
In some cases, there may be exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations. For example, if the plaintiff is a minor or incapacitated, the statute of limitations may be extended. A car accident lawyer can help you determine if exceptions apply in your case.
Additionally, collect and preserve evidence from the accident as soon as possible. Take pictures of the accident scene, gather statements from witnesses, and get medical records and police reports. With these pieces of evidence, your attorney can help you build a strong case for your claims.
Average Settlement for Oklahoma Car Accident Lawsuits
There are limits to the damages that can be awarded to car accident victims in Oklahoma. The cap on noneconomic damages is generally $350,000, regardless of the severity of the injury. Noneconomic damages cover pain and suffering and other intangible losses.
Note that the above limit is only for noneconomic damages and does not apply to those seeking compensation for medical bills and lost wages. Ultimately, the amount of a car accident settlement in Oklahoma will depend on the case and the extent of the damages.
Resources for Oklahoma Car Accident Victims
The Oklahoma Driver's Manual is a comprehensive guide to the rules and regulations governing the operation of motor vehicles on state roads and highways. Published by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, this manual provides detailed information on various topics, including traffic laws, licensing requirements, and safe driving practices.
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma provides free legal assistance to low-income individuals and families throughout the state. It offers counsel and representation in car accident cases. The organization has offices throughout the state, and its team of attorneys is dedicated to helping residents navigate the legal system and protect their rights.
The Oklahoma Bar Association offers resources for car accident victims. It contains information about courts, legal aid programs, and essential forms, all of which will help you understand your rights and obligations.
The Oklahoma Traffic Count Map is an interactive tool that provides detailed information about traffic volume and patterns on roads and highways throughout the state. It helps drivers view traffic volume data for road segments, intersections, and highway ramps. It also has data filters by year and by type of vehicle. The page includes areas with high traffic congestion, enabling users to plan their routes accordingly.
The Computer-Fillable Collision Report Form was designed by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety to help those involved in motor vehicle accidents complete the necessary documentation for reporting the accident to law enforcement. By using this form, drivers can expedite the claims process with their insurance company.
The Oklahoma Records Exchange is an online system that lets police and court officials see electronic copies of accident reports and other related information. Those involved in a motor vehicle mishap in the state can contact the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety by phone or email. If you want to request a copy of an accident report, dial 405-425-2262 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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