Fault is a major legal element in any car accident case. Under Oklahoma law, fault is usually determined by examining several important factors in an accident. One driver may be entirely at fault, or the drivers may share some fault or responsibility for the accident. Whichever driver is mostly at fault will be responsible for paying damages to the other driver.
There are a few basic components to fault and negligence. This applies to car accidents and most other areas of personal injury law. First, the plaintiff must prove that the other driver owed them a duty of care. For example, drivers have a duty to drive safely and responsibly. Second, the plaintiff must prove that the other motorist breached their duty and that the specific breach of care is what caused the accident. Finally, the plaintiff must prove that the damages they are suing for are the result of the accident and not some other factor.
In most cases when a driver breaks the law, they have automatically violated their duty of care toward other drivers. Many states, including Oklahoma, have laws that forbid tailgating or following a driver too closely. The wording of such laws is usually vague and left to the court to define on a case-by-case basis. In most cases, car accidents caused by one car following another too closely will result in the following driver being liable for damages.
While the vast majority of car accident cases are settled out of court, legal expertise is strongly recommended to get a fair settlement and assess any offers made by the insurance company. Preparing a lawsuit often requires assembling a great deal of evidence and preparing the necessary legal paperwork. Failure to make a strong case may result in a plaintiff being awarded fewer damages.