What Is a Personal Injury Case?
At McGuire Law Firm, we believe it is our duty to help the residents of Oklahoma City understand the world of civil justice.
To begin, let's review one of the most common questions prospective clients ask our attorneys: What is a personal injury case?
Defining Personal Injury Claims in Oklahoma
A personal injury case is a legal dispute that arises when a person suffers harm because of the negligence or recklessness of another party. This is called a tort. Injured individuals may recover compensation for their damages by filing a formal lawsuit or agreeing to a settlement with the liable person or business.
In most Oklahoma personal injury cases, the at-fault party does not cover the injured person's accident-related costs out of their own pockets. Their insurance companies almost always pick up this tab on their behalf.
Types of Personal Injury Cases in Oklahoma City
Personal injury is a broad legal field that includes many types of accidents and injuries.
The most common forms of cases in Oklahoma City include:
- Car accident cases
- Truck accident cases
- Bicycle accident cases
- Motorcycle accident cases
- Pedestrian accident cases
- Medical malpractice cases
- Dog bite cases
- Product liability cases
- Slip and fall accident cases
- Nursing home abuse cases
- Wrongful death cases
If you need assistance with any of these types of cases, please reach out to our experienced personal injury attorneys as soon as you can. We have been working in the legal field for years, so we know what it takes to win.
Proving Liability in Oklahoma Personal Injury Claims
Before injury victims can claim compensation after motor vehicle accidents or dog bites, they must show that the other party is liable for damages. To do so, they must generally prove that the party was negligent.
- The other party owed them a duty of care
- The other party breached that duty by behaving negligently
- The other party's breach of duty caused them harm, and
- Their damages are as extensive as they claim
There are many ways to prove these points to courts in Oklahoma. However, plaintiffs tend to enjoy the most success when they present the judge and jury with relevant evidence such as:
- Witness statements
- Expert testimony
- Medical records
- Accident scene photographs
- Video footage
- Police accident reports
Gathering these evidentiary materials usually involves filing requests with a variety of government entities and private businesses.
Compensation Available in Oklahoma City Personal Injury Cases
The types of damages available to people who suffer injuries in motorbike crashes and dog attacks can vary considerably from one case to the next. However, most plaintiffs can recover compensation for their:
- Medical expenses
- Ongoing care costs
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish, or
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The exact size of an injured individual's compensatory award depends on a wide range of factors, including:
- The cost of their initial medical treatment
- The fees associated with their ongoing healthcare needs
- The expenses they will incur during their rehabilitation
- The cost to repair or replace their damaged property
- The amount of time they missed from their job
- The effect their injuries will have on their earning potential
- The impact their injuries will have on their overall quality of life
- The limits on the at-fault party's insurance policy
Individuals who suffer minor injuries that do not cause them to miss work generally receive relatively modest payouts. However, people who sustain severe injuries that leave them with life-long disabilities and prevent them from earning money tend to receive more sizable compensatory awards.
How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Personal Injury Case in Oklahoma?
To understand the amount of time it takes to resolve a personal injury suit in the state of Oklahoma, one must first learn how the legal system works.
Most personal injury cases follow this general roadmap:
- Initial filing (one to three weeks)
- Process serving (two to eight weeks)
- Process response (two to four weeks)
- Discovery (one month to one year)
- Trial (one to five days)
Most personal injury settlements occur during discovery. Those suits tend to resolve in around three to six months.
When personal injury lawsuits go to trial, on the other hand, they can take as long as two years to resolve. Defendants can extend this period further by appealing the ruling of the court.
Of course, appeals are not the only factor that can cause a personal injury case to last longer than expected.
The following issues can also delay the resolution of these suits:
- Contradictory witnesses
- Uncooperative insurance companies
- Administrative mistakes
- Multiple defendants
- Unrelated plaintiffs
- Long-lasting injuries
People who would like to know how long their case is likely to take before filing a personal injury lawsuit can speak to a knowledgeable lawyer. They can analyze the details of a claim and provide an accurate estimate.
Statutes of Limitations in Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawsuits
The statute of limitations for almost all personal injury claims in the state of Oklahoma is two years. The clock for these suits typically begins on the day of the person's accident.
However, the law grants exemptions to this general rule in the following scenarios:
Injuries to Children
Children do not have the right to take legal action in the Sooner State. So, when they suffer injuries in falls or car crashes, their statutory clock does not begin to tick straight away. Instead, it starts on the first day they may sue the liable party - their 18th birthday.
It can sometimes take weeks or months for Oklahoma City residents who get into accidents to realize they suffered injuries. When situations of this nature occur, the two-year statutory clock does not begin to tick until the day the victim receives a diagnosis from a physician.
It is, unfortunately, not at all uncommon for people to flee the state when they cause an accident that results in injuries or deaths. When they do so, however, the two-year statutory clock pauses until they come back.
There are many other factors that may impact the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Oklahoma. As such, it is usually wise for victims to begin the legal process as quickly as possible.
Those who miss their filing deadline can forfeit their right to civil justice.
What is a Personal Injury Case? Contact the McGuire Law Firm for More Information?
What is a personal injury case? We hope this resource page has provided you with the information you need to know about this subject. However, if you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to call us today to talk to a member of our team or set up a free consultation at our office in Oklahoma City.