What Are My Rights as a Passenger in an Auto Accident in Tulsa?

February 26, 2023
What Are My Rights as a Passenger in an Auto Accident in Tulsa?

According to the Tulsa police department, two passengers were rushed to the hospital in critical condition after an auto accident on Saturday, February 11th 2023. The auto crash happened on E. 21st St. near S. Pittsburgh Ave. at about 3 P.m. involving a white Ford and a blue Nissan. Auto accidents are common on many U.

S. roads. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 2.1 million people were rushed to the emergency room in 2020 due to car-related injuries.

When auto accidents happen, passengers sustain injuries, some of which might be life-threatening. Sadly, many do not get compensation because of ignorance of their rights or misrepresentation in court.

Passengers involved in auto accidents in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have specific rights that make it easy to seek compensation for injuries and damages sustained in an auto accident. Knowing these rights can make a great difference in the aftermath of an accident.

Liability for Damages

Liability for damages is the legal responsibility of a party to compensate another party in case of loss or harm suffered due to their negligence or actions. To determine liability for damages, you have to know your rights and prove the following elements of negligence.

Duty of care

A duty of care is an obligation of an individual or an organization to take necessary steps not to hurt or harm another party or their property. It’s a requirement to act in a particular way.

 

For example, drivers have a duty of care to take reasonable actions to avoid car accidents and injuring passengers.

Breach of duty 

This happens when an individual or organization’s conduct fails to meet applicable standards of care. For instance, a driver may breach their duty of care to passengers if they text while driving.

Causation

After an accident, the plaintiff needs to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused their injuries. While you might think a driver is directly responsible for an auto accident, there might be several other actors that directly caused the accident. As a result, the plaintiff has to demonstrate that the injuries could not have happened without the defendant’s negligence.

Damages 

To receive compensation for injuries or losses, the plaintiff has to show that the defendant’s actions caused economic or non-economic damages to them.

Pursuing Compensation After an Auto Accident 

If you are involved in an auto accident and believe you deserve compensation for any injuries and damages, there are some steps you can take to pursue compensation. These include:

Step 1: Seek medical attention

After an auto accident, the first thing to do is see a doctor, even if the injuries are minor. A healthcare professional will attend to your injuries and ensure no underlying issues could become serious later on.

You will also use these medical records in your compensation claim.

 

Step 2: Gather evidence 

After the accident, collect as much evidence as possible from the accident scene. This can include a photo of visible injuries, the vehicle, and the condition of the road. Contact information of any witnesses to the accident can also help.

Step 3: Notify insurance companies 

Contact the insurance company of the driver involved in the accident as well as your insurance company if you have one. They will likely need more clarification about the accident and the injuries sustained. Provide as much relevant information as possible to ensure your claim is processed correctly.

Step 4: Consult with an attorney

You need an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the legal processes involved when pursuing compensation in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A personal injury attorney will assess your damages, negotiate with the insurance companies involved, and advise you on your legal rights and options.

Step 5: File a claim

The attorney will help you file a claim with relevant insurance companies. They will use your evidence and other relevant information to support your claim.

Step 6: Settlement 

Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance companies for a fair settlement for injuries and damages. It’s worth noting that most insurance companies prefer out-of-court settlements.

However, if a fair settlement can’t be reached through negotiation, your attorney will represent you in court through a lawsuit.  

How Courts Determine Fault 

Car Accident Fault

Since Oklahoma is a “tort” or “at-fault” state, anyone at fault for an auto accident is responsible for paying for damages and injuries caused to other people due to the accident. However, Oklahoma courts use the doctrine of comparative negligence to determine fault.

In comparative negligence, fault is apportioned based on the degree of negligence. For instance, if a passenger is involved in an auto accident, the court can consider the following questions to determine the level of fault:

  • Was the passenger wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident?
  • Did the passenger’s actions contribute to the accident? 
  • Did the passenger have pre-existing injuries before the accident?

Based on the available evidence, the court will assign a percentage of fault to the driver, you, or any other parties involved.

Once determined, your percentage of fault will reduce your compensation. For example, if you are 20% responsible, and the total compensation award is $50,000, your final award will be $40,000.

Types of Evidence Used in Personal Injury Cases 

Evidence is crucial in proving facts in a case. While evidence can come in various forms, it has to meet some standards to be admissible in court. Here are the different types of evidence you can use to support a personal injury case in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

  • Physical evidence: Photographs or videos of accident scenes provide virtual visual evidence to support a claim.
  • Witness statements: Witness statements include people who saw the accident and health care experts who attended to the injured person.
  • Medical records: Medical records document when you received treatment, injuries sustained, and the cost associated with the treatment.

Other types of evidence can include:

  • Police report
  • Employment records
  • Social media and electronic communications
  • Financial documents, such as tax returns or bank statements

Protecting Your Rights With a Tulsa Personal Injury Attorney 

Consulting with a personal injury attorney lets you understand your rights as a passenger in an auto accident. An experienced attorney will advise you on damages liability and insurance coverage and pursue compensation on your behalf. With such an attorney, you can rest assured your legal rights and interests are protected and well-represented. Contact us or call us at 918-359-6600 for a free consultation. 

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