Injuries from car accidents can be long-lasting and traumatic for everyone involved. Injuries include brain, back, and spine injuries, soft tissue injuries, whiplash, burns, and carpal tunnel injuries. The fault determination in a car accident case is largely based on the type of car accident; however, whether you believe that the other driver is at fault or not, you should call a car accident attorney to talk about your options. Insurance companies will often try to place some or all of the fault on you to reduce the damages or settlement they must pay you. The following are the most common types of car accidents in Oklahoma:
Types of Car Accident Collisions in Oklahoma
Rear end accidents occur when someone runs in to the vehicle in front of them, hitting the “rear” of that vehicle. These most commonly occur at stoplights, intersections, and railroad crossings. They also commonly occur in traffic when drivers are not paying attention or speeding and cannot slow-down in time to safely stop.
The general rule is that the party that struck another vehicle from behind, rear-ended a vehicle, is at fault, because they should have had time to stop or left enough room in front of them to stop.
Driving Under the Influence Accidents
There are many reasons why driving under the influence is illegal: not only does the driver endanger themselves, but they endanger everyone else around them. Driving under the influence includes drunk driving and driving while using drugs. It is proven that alcohol and drugs can impair a driver’s response times and mental clarity, which is why it is a serious crime. If you or a loved one believe you were involved in an accident involving a drunk or intoxicated driver, it is important to secure the evidence as soon as possible, which is part of why having a police officer come to the scene of the accident is so important.
If you get hit by a car and the other person leaves, it is classified as a hit-and-run. The first thing you need to do is take note of any injuries you have, get help and call 911 immediately. If you are capable, try to take note of any information about the vehicle while it is driving away, including: the vehicle make, model, license plate number, color, and any physical characteristics about the driver, such as their gender, hair color, or descriptions of the passengers in the car, if any. Each piece of information you can identify in the hit-and-run accident may lead police to the at-fault culprit of your accident.
You may be able to recover damages in a hit-and-run accident, even if the other driver is not identified. However, recovering damages from the at-fault driver requires identifying the driver. If you cause a car accident, never leave the scene of the accident: it is a crime, and when you are found the punishment will be much more severe.
Left Turn Accidents
Left turn accidents often happen when the driver making the left turn does not have the right away and crosses through traffic or the left turn driver has the right of way and a vehicle enters the intersection and collides with the left turn vehicle that had right of way.
What is Right of Way?
A driver turning left only has the right of way if the driver had a green arrow for the turning lane. Opposing traffic, on-coming traffic, will have a red light or stop sign that they must obey. Potentially making things even more complicated, there may be a left-turn green arrow for the other side of the street. When a driver enters the intersection when a left-turn driver has right of way, then that driver entering the intersection is likely at-fault and under Oklahoma law, responsible for the accident and resulting injuries or damages.
Sideswipe accidents happen when one vehicle strikes another vehicle driving in the same direction as the first vehicle. Merging into another lane without properly checking a blind spot or using a turn signal are common causes of sideswipe accidents. However, in many sideswipe accident cases, the other driver was speeding or driving reckless and should not have been in the space the first vehicle merged into. Overcorrecting from one direction to another, i.e. starting to merge left and jerking the vehicle right, is another common cause of sideswipe accidents in Oklahoma. The injuries caused in sideswipe accidents are often less severe or harder to identify, which is part of why it is so important to seek medical care and have a complete examination by a specialist.
Multi-car collisions often occur on highways and interstates where hundreds of vehicles are traveling over 70 miles per hour in one direction. Multi-car collisions are often caused by a chain reaction or ripple effect of one vehicle striking another vehicle due to one driver’s negligence, and multiple vehicles fail to brake or avoid the initial collision and the wreck continues to pile up. Multi-car pile ups can be caused by one driver or can be the responsibility of multiple drivers. Vehicles in the middle of a multi-car collision often suffer the worse injuries due to the multiple impacts they suffer.
Single Vehicle Accidents
Thousands of drivers in Oklahoma are involved in single car accidents every year. Single vehicle accidents can be the fault of the driver, due to negligence, intoxication (discussed above), or failing to avoid a hazard, but single vehicle accidents can also be the fault of a third party, such as the manufacture of a vehicle party or a construction company that failed to maintain or properly warn of hazards in the road.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Oklahoma
The most common car accident in Oklahoma occur when one driver makes a mistake and strikes another vehicle or is struck by another vehicle. Car accidents have multiple causes; however, the above listed types of car accidents explain the most common causes of car accidents.
Types of Vehicle Accidents
The most common type of vehicle accidents involve two or more vehicles colliding. Often times, car accidents are preventable. Many car accidents are caused by aggressive or reckless driving or following too close to another vehicle. Car accident injuries can range from minor soreness and bruising to life altering injuries, catastrophic injuries, or even death in some car accident cases. The seriousness of the injury in a car accident is largely based on the speed at impact and the size of the vehicles involved.
Semi-truck accidents cause the most serious injuries of any type of vehicle accident, which is largely due to the size or mass of the commercial truck and the force at impact. Regardless of the vehicle struck by a commercial vehicle, the injuries are often severe due to the sheer size of commercial trucks, i.e. 18 wheelers that typically weigh 80,000 pounds, not including over-size or overweight trucks.
Bus accidents often involve pedestrians that are struck by commercial or city buses that fail to notice the pedestrian. Accidents involving any pedestrian and a vehicle, especially a vehicle the size of a bus, can be fatal.
Motorcyclists tend to face serious injuries when they are involved in car accidents because they are more exposed than a person in a regular vehicle. This means that motorcyclists face more severe injuries and issues when they are in accidents.
Bicyclists face a variety of dangers on the road, including getting hit by open car doors, facing street defects, or getting hit by vehicles or vehicle accessories (boats, trailers, etc.).
Recreational Vehicle Accidents
Recreational vehicles include campers, trailers, dirt bikes, mopeds, scooters, ATVs, four-wheelers, boats, jet skis, go-karts and dune buggies. Even when not on public roads, recreational vehicles can still be held accountable for collisions and accidents that occur while they are in use.
What to Do After a Car Accident?
Getting in any vehicle or car accident can be jarring, and most people who get in to one for the first time don’t know what to do next. The following are 10 steps our car accident attorneys recommend you take after a car accident in Oklahoma:
- Stay Calm: Car accidents can be traumatic and nerve-wracking, but you need to take a moment to calm down and check on yourself and any other passengers in the car. Is anyone in danger? Is the car on fire? Has anyone been ejected from the car, and needs to be located or moved? Try to assess the situation as safely as possible.
- Check for Injuries: Some injuries are physical, severe, and immediately noticeable, such as broken bones, neck injuries, or cuts; however, other injuries require an examination by a medical professional or time to identify. Someone may be bleeding or unconscious. If possible, help those who have severe injuries until help arrives. Once you have left the scene, you should follow up as soon as safe with a medical professional, specifically an orthopedist and get scanned done.
- Call the Police: Whether you are severely injured or not, always call 911. Tell them where you are and the status of anyone who needs assistance, and then tell them as much about your situation as you know. In Oklahoma City, a non-injury accident can be reported by calling the non-emergency number for the police: 1-405-297-1000.
- Identify the Drivers: Once you are able, get the other driver’s name, license, and insurance information. They should not leave before law enforcement arrives, but if they do you want to have their contact information. If they refuse to give you their information, try and take down their license plate and vehicle information.
If you hit an unattended vehicle, you are still required to stop and attempt to locate the diver of the car to exchange contact and insurance information. If you cannot find them, you are expected to leave a note on the damaged car with your information where the driver is likely to see it.
- Locate any Witnesses: To help with your claim, get the information of any witnesses who saw the accident, or, if none, arrived shortly after. If you cannot get their information, try and get their license plate numbers. Witnesses will be beneficial to your claim by being able to corroborate the events or provide clarification if the two drivers have contradicting statements. Witnesses may be necessary to support your car accident case, if you must file a lawsuit when the insurance company fails to compensate you for your injuries and damages.
- Do Not Discuss or Admit Liability or Fault: Some people apologize for doing something even when it wasn’t their fault. Statements such as “I’m sorry I hit you!” or “I should have gotten out of the way!” can be used against you in your claim to prove that it was your fault. A person who is involved in the accident needs to be careful that they do not admit any liability, because they may not be at fault and the statements will damage their ability to recover. You should not make any statements about the accident to anyone at the scene, except the police.
- Take Photos or Video: One of the most important pieces of evidence is photos, because it is hard to escape photographic evidence. For example, if the other driver claims that the bumper was damaged, and you have a photo showing that it was not damaged at the time of the accident, then it discredits the other driver.
The best thing you can do is take photos of everything—the damaged parts of the car, the non-damaged parts of the car, the injuries that you have sustained, the location of the crash, and anything else that might be relevant. It does not matter if you are the person whose car was hit, or the person who hit another, both should take pictures to document the scene of the accident, because as soon as someone leaves the scene of the accident, all of this evidence is lost or diminished, so make sure you document it. Additionally, you should take pictures from multiple angles. If relevant, it can also be helpful to take videos of the driver, especially if you suspect them to be drunk or otherwise under the influence.
You likely have a digital camera and smart phone in your pocket, so use it!
- File an Accident Report: If there was an injury, an accident report must be filed. Oklahoma does not require that non-injured drivers file an accident report, but it is highly recommended. This is because police reports provide an impartial record of what happened at the scene of the accident. These are valuable in court when drivers have conflicting testimony of the events. If there is not a police officer at the scene, take down the following information:
- Name and insurance information of everyone involved
- Names of witnesses and their detailed accounts of the crash
- Details about the damages and injuries
- Diagram the scene of the accident
- Photograph the damage and take video statements
- Write a description of the crash
Accident report forms can be picked up from your county court office or police department. A driver is expected to complete a written accident report if there is any injury, death, or car damage exceeding $300 from an accident on a public road. That report must then be filed if the claim is not settled within six months of the accident date. Our fierce advocates can help you identifying these resources and competing them to support your car accident claim.
- Protect your Rights: If you have been injured in a car accident, an experienced Oklahoma car accident lawyer can help you navigate the complex court system and/or insurance claims process to recover as many damages as possible and redress the harm that was done to you. An experienced car accident attorney will be able to gather the evidence from the scene of the accident and tell a compelling narrative that supports your claim for damages to compensate for your current injuries, future injuries, economic damages, and pain and suffering. The lawyers at Cannon & Associates are experienced accident lawyers, Fierce Advocates, who will fight for you and protect your right to recovery. Schedule a consultation today to see what options are available for you.
- Contact your Insurance Company: You will want to notify your car insurance company that you have been in an accident. They will then conduct their own investigation into the events and likely ask you many specific questions about the accident. This is so that they can best protect your interests and figure out how to compensate you or the other driver.
Sometimes drivers consider settling without notifying their insurance companies. Don’t settle in this way immediately—sometimes people still contact their injury lawyers hours or days after an accident, and not notifying your insurance company can put them at a disadvantage of how to best protect your interests. Also, failing to notify your insurance company can result in loss of coverage.
What do I tell my insurance company after an accident?
When you get into an accident, notify your insurance company. They will likely ask you specific questions about what happened, including where you were, where the other vehicle was, and where the collision impacts were. The point of these questions is to get a detailed play-by-play diagram of all of the events that occurred, so your insurance company can evaluate how to best protect your interests.
While you are legally obligated to notify your insurance company when you have been in an accident, it is a good idea to contact a lawyer before making any admissions of fault. Sometimes who is at fault is not as clear as it seems, but regardless any admission of fault could hurt your claim for damages.
What if another insurance company contacts me?
You are not obligated to speak to another driver’s insurance company, and you should not do so. Your experienced car accident attorney can and will communicate with the insurance companies on your behalf until you have most cases it is better that you avoid making any statements to them, as anything you say could later be used against you. You should direct their questions to your lawyer, who knows what tricks insurance companies use to get other drivers to admit fault and can successfully avoid them.
What if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
You need the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney, if you are injured and the other party is not insured. However, one basic point to understand is that you may recover from your insurance company, if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage insurance, i.e. UIM, in your policy, you will be able to recover for the damages you suffered. You may have to sue your own car insurance company to recover or the other driver in under insured or un-insured car accident cases.
What Cannon & Associates Can Do for You
The lawyers at Cannon & Associates understand how scary it can be if you are involved in a car accident. If you have been injured, or your vehicle has been damaged, or you need help dealing with insurance companies, our car accident lawyers will be your Fierce Advocates and will protect your rights and interests. The legal process can be lengthy and complex, and having a car accident lawyer that you trust can make the process easier and less burdensome. If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, call us now for a free consultation.
Contact – Cannon & Associates: Oklahoma Personal Injury Advocates
Experience matters when you or a loved one has been injured or died as a result of the negligence of someone in a vehicle accident in Oklahoma. It is important to know the Oklahoma personal injury lawyer you hire is dedicated to your cause and versed in all aspects of car accident law in Oklahoma. Cannon & Associates is dedicated to Fierce Advocacy for accident victims and will fight for you. Founder John Cannon has been recognized as a Super Lawyer and Top 40 under 40. Contact Cannon & Associates to protect your rights and fight for compensation in your car accident case in Oklahoma. Complete the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at 405-657-2323 for a free confidential case evaluation.