What Should You Do After a Car Accident?

Hopefully, you will never be involved in a car crash. Unfortunately, the statistics don’t paint an optimistic picture. According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO), there were an astonishing 68,327 crashes in 2014 alone. That’s roughly 187 accidents every day, or about eight accidents per hour. If the worst does happen, you should know about your responsibilities are as a driver – because if you fail to take certain steps, you could find yourself at the center of a criminal investigation. In this article, our car accident lawyers will explain some of the state laws Oklahoma injury victims and drivers should be aware of.

What Are the Driver’s Responsibilities After Someone is Injured or Killed?

Oklahoma’s motor vehicle laws are consolidated under Title 47. Chapter 10 is devoted to accidents and reports relating to accidents, and contains about 20 different statutes addressing what drivers are supposed to do after a crash or collision occurs. These statutes include:

  • O.S. § 10-102 (Accidents Resulting in Nonfatal Injury – Failure to Stop)
  • O.S. § 10-102.1 (Accidents Resulting in Death – Failure to Stop)
  • O.S. § 10-104 (Duty to Give Information and Render Aid – Drug and Alcohol Testing)
  • O.S. § 10-107 (Immediate Notice of Accident)

Obviously, safety is always the top priority after any accident occurs, and anyone’s first thought would be to call 9-1-1. However, this isn’t merely common sense – it’s actually mandated by law.

Man inspects car accident

O.S. § 10-102 and O.S. § 10-102.1, which respectively deal with injury accidents and fatal accidents, both require drivers to immediately stop their vehicles at the scene of the accident (or as close as possible for safety). If you have to move your car, try to get as many photos as possible first, ideally from different angles. Having a visual record of scratches, dents, and other damage to the vehicle can be vital to obtaining compensation if the other driver caused the accident. Police reports are not infallible, and may contain errors or omit information about the extent and nature of the damage to your vehicle.

Both statutes also require the driver to:

  • Give “reasonable assistance” to anyone who was injured – in other words, calling an ambulance or bringing the person to the hospital.
    • Be aware that a person who is in shock won’t realize how severely they are injured. Even if an injured person says they are okay, it’s probably safest to call an ambulance and let trained EMTs handle the medical decisions.
  • Give his or her name, address, and vehicle registration number to the other driver, or the other vehicle occupants, or the person attending the other car.
    • If the other party asks, the driver must also show his or her driver’s license and security verification form.

Additionally, O.S. § 10-107 requires the driver to immediately notify the police, the county sheriff, or the nearest State Highway Patrol. If the accident resulted in death or “great bodily injury,” O.S. § 10-104(B) requires the driver to submit to drug and/or alcohol testing “as soon as practicable after such accident occurs.” That might involve a breathalyzer, blood testing, or urine testing.

Penalties for Hit and Run in Oklahoma

If you leave the scene of an injury accident or fatal accident without exchanging your information and calling for medical help, you are committing a crime. The formal term is “leaving the scene of an accident,” but this offense is more commonly known by its nickname: hit and run.

For obvious reasons, the penalties for leaving the scene of a fatal accident are more severe than those for leaving an injury accident. However, both offenses will result in serious long-term consequences. The potential penalties are described below:

  • Injury Accidents
    • Fine – Up to $1,000
    • Sentence – Up to 2 years in prison
    • License – Revoked by the Commissioner of Public Safety

These penalties are established by O.S. § 10-102(B) and O.S. § 10-102(C).

  • Fatal Accidents
    • Fine – Up to $10,000
    • Sentence – Up to 10 years in prison
    • License – Revoked by the Commissioner of Public Safety

These penalties are established by O.S. § 10-102.1(B) and O.S. § 10-102.1(C).

safety first two hands on wheel

If you were hit by a car and the driver didn’t stop to help you, not only can the driver be criminally charged – he or she might also be liable for compensating your medical bills, property damage, and other losses and expenses caused by your accident. When people decide to drive drunk or violate other traffic safety laws, they should be held accountable for any injuries they cause.

To start discussing your case in a free, completely confidential legal consultation, call the personal injury lawyers of Hasbrook & Hasbrook at (405) 698-3040. We have more than 75 years of combined experience handling car, truck, and motorcycle accidents in Oklahoma City and the surrounding area.