April 27, 2021 | Car Accidents
Oklahoma law imposes a number of duties on you after you’re involved in a car accident. Observing these duties will ensure everyone’s safety. Your failure to uphold these duties could result in jail time.
Oklahoma imposes liability for damages on the driver who caused the accident. This means that the moments after an accident can determine whether you receive compensation for your injuries or you pay compensation to the other injured drivers.
Here is a list of what you should and should not do after a car accident in OK.
What You Should Do After a Car Accident in Oklahoma
Oklahoma laws expect a lot out of drivers after an accident. Many of these duties arise from common sense or social responsibility.
Some of these duties include:
Stopping to Render Aid
You must stop after an auto accident that causes property damage, an injury, or a death. This means that the only accident where you do not need to stop is a single-vehicle accident in which you strike something like a rock, tree, or ditch on public land.
When you stop, you should do so in a safe place that does not obstruct traffic. You should place cones, reflectors, or flares on the road to warn oncoming traffic of the accident.
If you fail to stop, you have committed a hit-and-run. Under Oklahoma law, a judge could sentence you to at least ten days in jail in a hit-and-run injury accident. If someone dies in the accident, a hit-and-run can result in a prison sentence of at least one year.
You must also help anyone that was injured in the accident if you can do so safely. You may need to call for an ambulance or provide first aid.
Every driver involved in the accident must provide information to the other drivers and police, including:
- Vehicle registration
- Driver’s license
- Insurance card
If a driver gives false information or refuses to provide the information, the police can arrest the driver. A conviction could result in up to one year in jail.
In addition to getting information from the other drivers, you should also get the name and phone number of any witnesses to the accident. These witnesses could support your version of events when you file an insurance claim or file a lawsuit.
Call the Police
If an accident results in an injury or death, a driver must notify the local police, county sheriff, or Oklahoma State Highway Patrol. If you fail to report an accident, the state can suspend your driver’s license for 30 days, and the police could arrest you. A court can punish a conviction for a failure to report with up to ten days in jail.
Calling the police provides substantial benefits to you when you file your injury claim. The police will investigate the accident. The investigation will lead to a police report. The police report will assess fault and identify any drivers who received traffic citations. This report could provide the basis for the insurer to pay or deny claims.
Seek Medical Attention
Whether you have bumps and bruises or a spinal cord injury, you should seek medical attention soon after an accident. A doctor can diagnose your injuries and provide a prognosis and treatment plan.
What You Should Not Do After a Car Accident in Oklahoma
Saying or doing the wrong thing after a car accident can jeopardize your injury claim. It can even shift liability to you for the accident.
Here are some of the steps you should not take after a car accident.
Do Not Admit Fault
Admitting fault at the scene of an accident or afterward can turn you into the presumed at-fault driver. The other drivers will seek compensation from your insurer, and when that runs out, they may file lawsuits against you.
Insurance adjusters, other drivers, and even police officers can misinterpret an apology as an admission. For example, suppose that you say, “I’m sorry about your wife,” when you’re speaking to a driver whose wife was injured. Someone could interpret this to mean that you have admitted fault for causing the accident.
To avoid this problem, you should minimize your communication with other drivers. When you speak to the police or insurance adjusters, stick to the facts.
Do Not Lie to the Police
Lying to the police could expose you to an arrest. If your lie to the police is substantial, you could face an arrest and jail time. Lying to the police is a crime.
Lying will also erode your credibility with the insurance companies. Insurers will become skeptical of your entire version of events if the police catch you in a lie. This could risk your entire injury claim.
Even if the facts do not favor you, always tell the truth to the police. If the police report assigns partial fault to you, the insurer must still pay your claim, reduced by the amount of your fault. For example, if you were 10% at fault for an accident, the insurer only needs to pay 90% of your damages.
Do Not Post About the Accident on Social Media
Social media posts can also work to your detriment. If your social media posts contradict your representations to the insurer or a jury, you will lose credibility.
Even an attempt at humor could force you and your injury lawyer to explain away your words. For example, suppose that you suffer from a traumatic brain injury in your accident. If you post on social media joking about your bandaged head, the insurer could argue that you faked or exaggerated your injuries.
Advice on What to Do After a Car Accident
Most drivers only get into a few accidents during their lifetimes. So, you might not know what to do when one happens. Lawyers work with people that are injured in accidents every day. They can provide advice on what you should and should not do after an accident.
Contact the Oklahoma City Car Accident Lawyers at McGuire Law Firm Today for Free Consultation
We serve throughout Oklahoma and its surrounding areas: