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Statistics from the National Practitioner Data Bank show that Oklahoma recorded 108 medical malpractice reports from January 1 to September 30, 2023. Based on this data, Oklahoma had the 25th most medical malpractice payment reports in the nation while being ranked 28th in terms of population. 

This information shows that Oklahoma residents seeking medical treatment may have a higher-than-average likelihood of experiencing negligence compared to those in other states. To be able to hold the negligent parties accountable and claim the compensation they are entitled to, these medical malpractice victims must take legal action.  

The compensation that can be claimed depends on the case. For instance, a Tulsa personal injury law firm reported a $17.5 million verdict on Facebook for a case involving a hernia mesh removal surgery. The 32-year-old victim received $14 million as compensation for losing the use of one of his limbs, and $3.5 million was given for his wife’s loss of consortium claim. 

Taking legal action can be a difficult time for anyone. This article aims to guide Oklahomans regarding medical malpractice laws and help them understand if they have a valid case. It will also discuss what the victim will need to prove for their claim to be successful. 

What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice in Oklahoma?

Medical malpractice in Oklahoma refers to instances when a healthcare provider, such as a nurse, dentist, or doctor, injures their patient due to their negligent behavior. 

The common types of medical malpractice in Oklahoma include:

  • Diagnosis errors. These include misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. Not being able to identify the nature of a health problem properly can lead to further complications and may require the patient to undergo risky procedures. 

  • Surgical errors. Any type of surgery carries possible risks for the patient. Negligence during surgery could result in paralysis, infection, nerve damage, organ damage, and heart failure. 

  • Obstetric error or birth injury. A medical professional’s failure to provide adequate care during the birthing process may result in broken bones, cerebral palsy, skull fracture, traumatic brain injury, or fetal death. 

  • Medication errors. This type of medical malpractice includes improper dosage, prescribing and administering the wrong drug, prescribing or administering several drugs with adverse effects, and failing to take into consideration the patient’s medical history for conditions or allergies to certain medications. 

  • Failure to obtain informed consent. It is considered malpractice if a healthcare provider does not tell the patient about all the risks associated with the surgery before it is performed. The medical professional is also required to explain to the patient possible alternatives to the treatment and the amount of pain medication they will need after the procedure. 

Filing a medical malpractice claim can help the victim in the recovery process while also holding the healthcare provider accountable for their negligence. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can assist the victim in gathering pieces of evidence and compiling the necessary documents for the case. 

Who Can You Sue for Medical Malpractice in Oklahoma?

Medical malpractice claims in Oklahoma can be put forward by an individual who was injured by a medical provider. The state defines a healthcare provider as a person authorized to perform medical services on patients, which includes:

  • Doctors, nurses, medical office staff, and physician’s assistants. 

  • Nutritionists, dieticians, and personal trainers.

  • Hygienists, dentists, and oral surgeons.

  • Therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists.

  • Pharmacists, midwives, podiatrists, optometrists, and anesthesiologists. 

Injured patients can also take legal action against hospitals, testing facilities, medical clinics, office buildings, and hospice facilities. Hospitals can be sued if a medical staff member is negligent and causes an injury to the patient. 

Additionally, if a medical device causes an injury, the company that owns the device and the manufacturer can be sued by the injured party. 


Oklahoma does not have a law that prevents injured patients from filing a medical malpractice claim against statewide entities such as cities, subdivisions, towns, counties, and their respective employees. The compensation for medical negligence actions against these entities does not generally exceed $25,000. 

The state has a Good Samaritan Act that protects people from legal action if they have provided assistance during an emergency. The law applies to anyone who voluntarily assists another person during a time of emergency without the expectation or receipt of compensation. 

A “Good Samaritan” is allowed to provide or attempt to provide emergency care, such as:

  • Artificial respiration.

  • Blood loss prevention.

  • Aiding or restoring circulation of blood. 

The Good Samaritan Act, however, does not protect individuals who were proven to have been grossly negligent while providing emergency aid.

Medical Malpractice Liability Insurance Requirements

Healthcare providers in Oklahoma are not required to have medical malpractice insurance. Some hospitals in the state may require physicians to carry medical malpractice insurance if they wish to work in their facility. Physicians might also need their own malpractice insurance to be able to qualify for some health insurance plans. 

The need for malpractice insurance increases depending on the type of healthcare provider; this means a physician who does not perform operations will generally not require malpractice coverage compared to a surgeon. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations in Oklahoma for Medical Malpractice Cases?

Victims of medical malpractice in Oklahoma have two years to file a claim, starting from the date of the incident. The individual will not be able to file their case if that time limit has elapsed because of the statute of limitations. 

The deadline for filing claims for legal actions was established to ensure claims are brought swiftly while there are still relevant pieces of evidence and reliable eyewitness testimonies. 

The time limit for filing a medical malpractice claim can extend past two years if the injured patient can prove they did not realize they had been injured due to the healthcare provider’s negligence. This discovery rule is only applicable if the victim had no way of knowing about their health complications despite exhibiting reasonable diligence. 

Reasonable diligence can be difficult to determine, which is why victims of medical malpractice should seek legal consultation to examine whether they can still file a case after the two-year statute has passed. 

Oklahoma has rules in place for minors who are victims of medical negligence. If the victim is over the age of 12, legal action can be taken by the family up until the child’s 19th birthday. If the child was under 12 when the malpractice took place, the family has seven years from the date of the incident to file a claim. 

The statute of limitations may also be extended if the accused concealed themselves or left the state to avoid being sued. 

There are some cases where the statute of limitations for medical malpractice could be shortened. If the individual was injured due to the negligence of a governmental entity, they only have one year from the date of the incident to take legal action. 

What Do You Need to Prove in an Oklahoma Medical Malpractice Case?

The injured patient needs to prove that the injuries they suffered were the result of the healthcare provider’s negligence to win their medical malpractice claim in Oklahoma. 

To meet the burden of proof in medical negligence claims, the victim of malpractice must establish:

  • Medical provider-patient relationship. The plaintiff, the person bringing forward the legal action, established a provider-patient relationship with the defendant at the time of the malpractice. This means the patient has agreed to be treated, and the physician gave consent to provide medical services. 

  • Appropriate medical standard of care. The victim needs to prove the appropriate medical standard of care, which is the standard of care other healthcare providers would have provided if they were under the same circumstances as the defendant. 

  • Failure to follow the medical standard of care. The healthcare provider breached their duty of care by not providing the same level of care that other medical professionals would have provided under similar conditions. 

  • Injury to the patient. The plaintiff must provide evidence that they have suffered an injury. This could either be a pre-existing illness or condition that got worse or a new one that impacted their livelihood or chances of survival. 

  • Causal connection between the injury and level of care provided. The victim must prove that the injury they suffered was the consequence of the defendant’s substandard medical care. This means the plaintiff would not have suffered the injury if the healthcare provider had not been negligent.

To help prove their case, plaintiffs may use pieces of evidence such as:

  • Medical records from before their injury and from after they were injured. 

  • Photographs or videos taken during or immediately after the injury. 

  • Eyewitness accounts of the injury. 

  • Statements from medical professionals. 

Expert Witness

An expert witness can assist in the case by providing their thoughts on the level of care needed for the situation. They can determine whether the defendant acted in a way that breached their duty of care and if the plaintiff’s injury was directly caused by the medical provider’s actions. 

The expert witness must be licensed to practice medicine or have substantial experience in the area of healthcare relevant to the case to be qualified.

An affidavit of merit was previously required in Oklahoma to begin a medical malpractice case, but it was ruled unconstitutional in 2017 by the state Supreme Court. 

I’m Sorry Law

The state follows a form of the I’m Sorry Law, which protects healthcare providers in the event that they make statements of sympathy after a medical incident. 

According to OK Stat § 63-1-1708.1H (2021), any statements, gestures, affirmations, or conduct expressing sympathy, condolence, or compassion made by a healthcare provider towards the plaintiff or relative of the plaintiff due to the unanticipated outcome of medical care shall be inadmissible as evidence of an admission of liability. 

How Much Can You Sue for Medical Malpractice in Oklahoma?

Residents of Oklahoma who have been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional are entitled to seek compensation for the physical or emotional damage they suffered. To have a better understanding of the amount of compensation owed to them, victims of malpractice should seek the help of a medical malpractice lawyer. 

Types of Damages

Victims of medical malpractice in Oklahoma are entitled to receive compensation for economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. 

Economic damages refer to the actual financial losses the plaintiff suffered because of their injury. This type of damage includes lost wages due to time missed at work while recovering, lost earning capacity, and current and future medical expenses associated with the injury. 

Non-economic damages are often deemed difficult to assign a monetary value to and are considered subjective from plaintiff to plaintiff. Compensation for non-economic damages is awarded based on how the injury affected the patient in ways that cannot be objectively quantified. Examples of non-economic damages include emotional distress, loss of companionship, diminished quality of life, and pain and suffering. 

Punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff if the healthcare provider is proven to have acted in a way that was fraudulent, malicious, or completely reckless. These damages are typically granted to punish the defendant and set an example for the public. 

There are no caps for economic damages, but until 2019, the damage cap for non-economic damages was set at $350,000. This meant that, unless there was a wrongful death associated with the medical malpractice claim, the maximum amount the plaintiff could receive for pain and suffering was $350,000. However, this non-economic damage cap was ruled unconstitutional by the state in 2019, which means the previously established damage cap is no longer applicable. 

Negligence System

Oklahoma follows a modified comparative negligence system for medical malpractice cases. Under the modified comparative negligence system, the compensation awarded to the victim may be reduced depending on whether they were partially at fault for their injury. This means if the plaintiff is considered 20% at fault for their injury, the damages awarded to them will be reduced by 20%. 

For example, if a patient received $50,000 in damages but the court ruled that they were 50% at fault for their injury, the patient would only receive $25,000. If the court has determined that the plaintiff is more than 50% at fault for their injury, they will not be able to recover compensation. 

Methods of Obtaining Compensation

Once the medical malpractice claim passes through the period of discovery and is reviewed by an expert witness, the defense may agree to negotiate a settlement prior to the case reaching trial. The defendant and their legal team may choose to negotiate a settlement to try and minimize the amount of money the accused will have to pay. 

If a settlement or jury verdict has been reached, the plaintiff can receive compensation either through structured or lump-sum payments. 

Structured payments mean the victim will receive their compensation periodically on a schedule arranged by the court. This type of payment is preferable for cases involving minors because they need long-term healthcare more. 

Lump-sum payments mean the plaintiff will receive the compensation they are entitled to all at once. 

If both parties agree on mediation to settle the legal dispute, the negotiation for a settlement will be facilitated by a neutral third party who can present information to each side. The mediator will help both parties develop strategies to reach an agreement rather than make a ruling themselves. 

How Much Does It Cost to Pursue a Medical Malpractice Case in Oklahoma?

Medical malpractice attorneys in Oklahoma usually take cases on a contingency fee basis if they believe that the claim has merit. Lawyers that operate contingently agree to accept a fixed percentage of the monetary reward the plaintiff receives from the case; this means that if the victim of medical malpractice loses the case, the attorney will not receive payment. 

Contingency fee arrangements typically average between 25 and 40% of the plaintiff’s award. Attorneys usually charge a smaller percentage if the case does not reach trial. 

According to OK Stat 5 § 7, attorneys in Oklahoma are not allowed to take more than 50% of the plaintiff’s award. 

Plaintiffs must also prepare for out-of-pocket expenses associated with medical negligence claims, such as deposition fees, filing fees, copying charges, exhibit costs, and expert witness fees. 

Legal Resources for Medical Malpractice Victims in  Oklahoma

Oklahoma Medical Board

The Oklahoma Medical Board website has a page that provides details on how victims of medical malpractice can file a complaint. The agency has jurisdiction over:

  • Physical therapists.

  • Medical doctors. 

  • Athletic trainers.

  • Occupational therapists.

  • Licensed dietitians.

  • Registered electrologists.

  • Respiratory care practitioners. 

The website also provides individuals with a complaint form and explains the possible timeline of the complaint. 

The agency is an administrative licensing agency and does not have jurisdiction over people who do not hold one of its licenses. 

Oklahoma Free Legal Answers

Oklahoma Free Legal Answers is an online resource that is co-sponsored by the American Bar Association. Visitors to the website can ask legal questions that will be answered by a volunteer lawyer at no cost if they meet the qualifications. People dealing with medical malpractice cases should visit the website if they want more information on rules and regulations that may impact their claim. 

Oklahoma Lawyers for America's Heroes Program

The Oklahoma Lawyers for America's Heroes Program provides legal advice and assistance to past and present members of the armed forces in Oklahoma. This means both veterans and active duty members may be eligible for its services. 

Victims of medical malpractice in the state can request assistance if they have previously served or are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces. 


OKLaw provides Oklahoma residents with access to basic legal information and resources. The website answers frequently asked questions on health law and provides links to court forms that the visitor may need. Oklahomans may also visit the website to learn more about topics involving healthcare.

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