Personal injury cases arise when you suffer an injury caused at least in part by someone else. Most commonly, the incident is an accident, such as a car crash or dog bite, although it could be a deliberate attack as well. Oklahoma has specific rules you must follow to file and prove your claim.
Where Do I File My Claim?
You must file your personal injury suit with a court that has jurisdiction—the legal authority to make binding decisions—in your case. Typically this will be the district court where your injury occurred. It may also be the court where you or the other person lives.
Is There a Statute of Limitations in Oklahoma?
Yes. You must file most cases within two years of the date you were injured. In cases where your injury is not immediately apparent, such as some instances of medical malpractice, you have two years from the time you discover the injury.
What Damages Can I Recover?
Under Oklahoma law, you may recover both economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses include actual past and future estimated lost wages and medical bills.
Non-economic losses include physical and/or mental pain and suffering. In determining this award, the jury may consider factors such as the severity of your injuries, physical impairment they may have caused and whether they are permanent. The state caps the amount of non-economic damages you may receive in most cases.
How Does Comparative Fault Affect My Award?
Comparative fault refers to the amount to which you contributed to the incident in which you were injured. The state's modified comparative fault rule limits your ability to receive damages to cases in which you were no more than 49 percent responsible. Your degree of fault will also lower your award proportionally.
What Is Discovery?
Discovery is the process of establishing the true facts in your case. Lawyers for both sides may conduct oral interviews, called depositions, with all the parties involved and any witnesses. They may submit written questions (interrogatories) to be answered under oath and request physical evidence such as photos, medical records or witness statements.
What Are My Options for Resolving My Case?
You may be reluctant to file a lawsuit because you do not want to go to trial. However, most cases never get that far. Your lawyer will usually prepare your case as if you will be going to trial, but also will still negotiate with the other side to reach a fair settlement.
Even if negotiations fail, you can try mediation. This is basically a negotiation in which a neutral third party helps you resolve your differences and come to an agreement.
Trial is generally a last resort. If it comes to that, lawyers for each side will take turn presenting their case, witnesses and evidence to the jury, which will then make the final decision.
How Much Does a Personal Injury Case Cost?
Many personal injury lawyers takes cases on a contingency fee basis. This means instead of a flat or hourly fee, you give the lawyer a specific percentage of your award. Some lawyers will want a slightly higher percentage if you go to trial because of the extra work involved.
Should I Hire an Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney?
It can be tempting to try to negotiate on your own and keep your entire award, but hiring a personal injury lawyer can have many benefits. Oklahoma attorneys have teams of experts to help investigate your case, possibly leading to a higher award. And it can be extremely stressful to try to deal with insurance companies and defense lawyers while you are injured.