Norman, OK – Home to the greatest football program in the country! Not to mention getting a swirl at The Mont or hitting up Tarahumara’s Mexican Cafe or Ray’s BBQ (I like it better than Van’s) for some excellent food.
Wait, you’re not here to talk about sports or food? You’re here because you’ve likely been in a car accident and have legal questions about your case and the insurance company that isn’t returning your calls.
What to do Immediately After a Car Accident in Norman
- Call the police to get an officer to investigate the wreck. At the very least, this can accelerate the process of resolving your property damage claim.
- If you are hurt, seek immediate medical care. If needed, get an ambulance from the accident scene. Norman Regional now has multiple convenient locations. Delaying going to the doctor doesn’t help your health or any potential lawsuit.
- Take photos of the accident scene with your cell phone. You should also take photos of the other driver(s) license, insurance information, and license plate.
- Talk with an attorney to ensure you are not missing anything on your claim, and hire one if you would rather not deal with the insurance adjuster alone.
Legal Requirements in Norman After a Car Accident
The City of Norman Municipal Code § 32-201 requires drivers to:
- Immediately bring their vehicle to a stop when involved in an accident
- Render reasonable assistance to any injured individuals, taking steps to get them medical attention
- Inform the police about the accident occurrence and location
- Exchange names and addresses with the other driver if applicable, as well as vehicle registration numbers, license/tag numbers, driver’s license numbers, and passenger names/addresses
If the accident involves an unattended vehicle or property, the driver must attempt to locate the owner and leave a conspicuous notice on the vehicle/property if the owner cannot be found after reasonable effort. The notice must contain the driver’s contact information and details about the accident.
A driver may leave the scene of an accident if:
- Released by a police officer
- They need to take an injured person to the hospital
- There is no injury or death, and total property damage appears to be less than $500
Medical Treatment after a Car Wreck
One of the most important “rules of the road” after a car accident is to make sure you get the medical treatment you require. Waiting to go to the doctor, with the hope that your injuries will heal on their own, plays into insurance companies’ hands (or boxing gloves with some) in limiting fair settlement offers. Insurance defense lawyers call this the “delay in treatment” defense.
Another “way to wreck a car accident case” is by skipping doctor’s appointments or failing to ensure the doctor is aware of all the medical ailments caused by the wreck. It’s common for someone with a shoulder injury from a car accident to also have pain in their hip. Even if the shoulder is the main medical complaint at the time, the doctors must be aware of the hip pain before it worsens. The radiating hip pain can be a symptom of a bulging disc or other back injury.
Negligence in Car Accidents
When someone files a lawsuit to seek compensation for their injuries, they must be able to show that another person was at fault for the accident. The “fault” is referred to as “negligence.” All drivers in Norman are responsible for driving safely so they do not hurt anyone else on the road.
When drivers speed excessively, drive while distracted, exhibit road rage, or otherwise break the “rules of the road,” they act negligently. They are not taking the care needed to make sure the people on the surrounding roads are safe.
Negligence is the basis of all personal injury claims. When one person is negligent, and those actions injure another, the injured party can file a civil lawsuit to claim compensation. When this is the case, the victim should speak to a car accident lawyer in Norman who can help them file their lawsuit.
How to Prove Negligence in Norman
Proving negligence in civil court is not like proving guilt in a criminal case. The injured party does have to prove the defendant acted negligently, but they do not have to prove it “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead, the victim must prove that it was “more probably true than not” that the negligent party caused the accident.
Even though the standard of proving guilt is much lower in civil court, it can still be difficult for a plaintiff to recover everything to cover what the accident caused. Insurance companies have spent billions in public relations-style advertising campaigns and strategically painted injury victims and their trial lawyers as “greedy plaintiffs.”
The reality is different: Most people want a fair car accident settlement from the insurance company. Most car accident claimants have no interest in filing a lawsuit. They are forced to when given the option of either accepting a low-ball offer from the insurance adjuster or wanting to recover everything to cover what the wreck has put them through.
Surprisingly, a clear-cut rear-end collision with a plaintiff in a stopped vehicle at a red light can have issues regarding liability. Those accused (the other driver’s insurance company handling the claim) of being at fault for the accident will not want to admit they caused the accident, as they want to pay as little compensation as possible.
Insurance companies often wait until right before the case is ready to go to trial to use a defense strategy of “admitted liability.” They’ve denied liability throughout the case but wait until the last minute to admit that “yeah, we finally caused the wreck.” The defense is that their insured caused the wreck but did not cause the harm or damages from the wreck. Yes, they are now “sorry” about the wreck, but they are just not sorry about what happened because of the wreck.
Injured individuals must contact the police, who can come to the scene and write a report. Oklahoma Statute Title 47, Chapter 10, Section 10–107 states that drivers involved in a car accident that results in injury or death must report the incident to the police. The insurance company will also want a copy of this report, as it will help them determine who was at fault for the accident.
Insurance Issues after a Car Accident
Oklahoma is an “at-fault car accident” state, meaning that the at-fault party’s insurance company will be responsible for paying for the damages to anyone who suffered injuries. Insurance companies will constantly try to offer the lowest settlement possible, and their “final pre-suit settlement offer” will often not be enough to cover the full expenses of the injuries and property damage. It’s surprisingly common to see “final” offers that don’t even cover all the medical bills. The insurance company and their lawyers will defend against any lawsuit if one is filed.
Note that using variations of the phrase liability insurance is generally not allowed in car accident trials. The jury may think that the at-fault driver had to hire a lawyer to defend him or her in the case. It is highly unlikely to see a car accident case go to trial if the defendant does not have liability insurance.
People can speak to their insurance company after the accident. However, they typically should not speak to the other person’s insurance company or insurance adjusters until they have spoken to a Norman car accident attorney.
You should get a copy of your insurance policy to double-check to see if you have Uninsured/Underinsured (“UM/UIM Coverage”) or Medical Payments Coverage (“Med Pay”). UM will cover, up to the amount of coverage you purchased, for the damages sustained from an uninsured driver. Likewise, UIM coverage will cover over and above the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage. Med Pay will pay for medical bills from the wreck to the amount of coverage purchased.
Being in a car accident is stressful and confusing. It can be even more upsetting when someone else is at fault for the accident. However, anyone who was injured due to the negligence of another has options. If you were involved in an accident, call a Norman car accident lawyer who can guide you through the process. There are many laws surrounding car accidents in Norman. An attorney will be able to explain these laws and can fight to get you the total amount of compensation you are entitled to.
Norman Rules of the Road
Driving Carefully/With Due Care (§§ 32-401, 32-402)
- Must at all times operate vehicle attentively, avoiding collisions with any pedestrians, giving warnings when necessary
- Cannot drive carelessly, without proper caution or in a reckless manner that poses a danger to people or property
Controlled Access Roadways (§ 32-403)
- Can only enter or exit controlled access streets like highways/freeways at designated entrance and exit points determined by City Council
Limitations on Backing Up (§ 32-411)
- Cannot back up into any street intersection
- Can only back up when movement can be made with reasonable safety and without interfering with other traffic
Right-of-Way (§§ 32-421, 32-436)
- Must yield the right-of-way when entering an intersection to a vehicle already in the intersection
- Must yield the right-of-way when making a left turn to oncoming vehicles posing an immediate hazard
Licensing/Registration (§ 32-409, 32-410)
- Driver and vehicle must comply with all licensing and registration requirements under state law.
- Cannot drive with suspended, revoked, expired, or invalid license or registrations
Traffic Obstruction (§ 32-424)
- Cannot enter intersections or crosswalks unless enough space exists to fully accommodate vehicles and prevent obstruction
Alcohol Transportation (§ 32-426)
- Rules cover transporting alcoholic beverages in passenger compartments to prevent access while driving.
Passing Regulations (§§ 32-428 to 32-432)
- No passing in designated no-passing zones or intersections when unsafe
- Must pass on the left side only when there is a clear view ahead and no oncoming traffic
Turning Requirements (§§ 32-433 to 32-440)
- Various explicit rules for making left/right turns safely based on roadway types
- Must use turn signals properly and yield right-of-way when turning
Fleeing Police (§ 32-441)
- Unlawful to willfully fail or refuse to stop a vehicle when signaled to stop by police
Other Additional Regulations (§§ 32-416, 32-418)
- Cannot drive with persons/objects outside the vehicle or clinging to the exterior
- Cannot obstruct traffic via dangerously constructed/overloaded vehicles