When we imagine injury claims against a negligent individual, we rarely take into account accidents with complex circumstances. While cases, where one party is 100% at fault, are common, so are other cases where negligence seemingly lies with multiple parties—even the injury victim themselves. In these cases, Oklahoma's law of comparative fault comes into play.
UNDERSTANDING COMPARATIVE FAULT
Comparative fault allows our courts to assign fault for an accident across multiple parties. This fault is represented by a percentage and, in turn, that percentage can affect a plaintiff's financial recovery.
So for instance, let's say an injury claimant was found to be 10% at fault for the accident that harmed them. That would mean that the claimant is now only eligible to receive 90% of the pursued recovery. The percentage of fault reduces any awarded compensation in this way.
HOW COMPARATIVE FAULT WORKS
To better demonstrate how comparative fault might work in an injury claim, let's take a look at an example involving three drivers. Late one night, Driver A fell asleep at a stop light. While Driver B was stopped and delayed behind Driver A's car during a green light, Driver C, who was speeding, rounded the corner the hit both drivers. Now, all drivers are blaming one another for damages and minor injuries and, for the sake of simplicity, are each seeking $10,000 in compensation.
The court found that Driver A was 70% at fault for falling asleep behind the wheel. They also found that Driver C was 30% at fault for speeding. Driver B was not assigned any fault.
With these assignments, the awarded compensation would be:
- Driver A: no compensation
- Driver B: $10,000
- Driver C: $7,000 ($10,000 reduced by 30%)
Notice that, in this case, Driver A received no compensation. That is because Oklahoma's comparative fault law states that no party who is found to be 51% or more at fault cannot be awarded any money. This ensures that those individuals who are found to be chiefly responsible for an accident will not later financially benefit from it.
Have you been hurt by the negligent actions of someone else? If so, Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC is ready to hear from you. Our dedicated team of Tulsa personal injury lawyers has recovered millions of dollars in relief for our clients. We're ready to assess the details of your case and ensure that your claim for compensation is compellingly put forth.
Ready to start exploring your injury claim options? Call us today.