Like most people, you probably don’t give your daily commute much thought. You hop into your car without a care in the world; in fact, you may even find it relaxing. But unfortunately, accidents sometimes happen – and when they do, it’s important that the victims receive compensation for their losses. If you’ve been injured in a collision, you might wonder, “Can you sue after a car crash?” Whether you can file a lawsuit against the other driver will depend on (1) which party was at fault for the accident and (2) whether injuries were involved. Use the tips below to determine whether your claim has legal merits.
Can You Sue After a Car Crash?
So can you sue after a car crash? The answer depends on a determination of liability, which refers to who was at fault for the accident. Both Oklahoma and Arkansas have negligence rules about who can recover damages after an accident, and understanding these laws can help you figure out your options.
Determining liability is the first order of business. If the other motorist was solely to blame for causing the collision, you will be able to file a lawsuit against him or her to recover damages. If you were solely to blame for causing the accident, you will not have the ability to recover compensation in a lawsuit and may be sued by the other driver. Finally, if both parties were partially at fault for the collision, the issue becomes murkier and the state’s comparative negligence laws help determine negligence.
Negligence Laws in Arkansas and Oklahoma
Both Arkansas and Oklahoma have modified comparative negligence rules:
Arkansas: Under Ark. Code § 16-64-122, a plaintiff who shares a percentage of the fault for an accident is not necessarily barred from recovering damages in a lawsuit. However, the state does bar people from filing lawsuits and recovering damages when their percentage of the fault exceeds that of the other party.
Oklahoma: Oklahoma has a similar modified comparative fault statute that is codified at Okla. Stat. tit. 23 §13. Under this law, a person whose degree of fault exceeds the percentage of fault held by the other party is not entitled to recover compensation.
What these laws mean is that you can file a lawsuit to recover compensation in Arkansas or Oklahoma after an accident as long as you contributed less than the percentage of fault held by the other party. If you were 40 percent at fault in your accident, you may still be able to file a lawsuit. However, your total damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault that you contributed to the accident’s cause.
Were You Injured?
If you have determined that the other party was at fault for your accident, you will then need to consider whether you were injured and if your injuries were caused by the other driver’s negligence. If you were not injured, there will not be a basis to file a lawsuit. Property-damage only claims can be filed directly with the responsible insurance company without the help of an attorney.
If you were injured, you will need to figure out whether your injuries were caused by the other driver’s negligence to determine whether you can recover damages. For example, if you were involved in a car accident and then tripped and broke your leg a few days later, you will not be able to recover damages for your broken leg by filing a lawsuit against the driver who caused your crash.
Did You Suffer Harm?
To recover damages after a car accident, you must also have suffered actual harm. If you were involved in a minor crash that caused no damage to your vehicle and did not result in financial losses, you will not have grounds to file a claim.