Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Oklahoma

What is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in Oklahoma?

The statute of limitations sets a time limit for filing a lawsuit after an accident. In Oklahoma, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years, as set by Oklahoma Statute § 12-95. That means you have two years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for your injury. If you do not file a lawsuit for your case within this 2-year period, in most cases the courts will refuse to hear your case at all.

Why Does Oklahoma Have a Personal Injury Statute of Limitations for Filing Claims?

In the context of personal injury law, the statute of limitations is a crucial element. In Oklahoma, a set period exists within which an affected individual can file a lawsuit for their injuries. This period is put in place for several reasons:

  • Preservation of Evidence:  Over time, evidence may deteriorate or be lost, and witnesses’ memories may fade. Having a personal injury statute of limitations in Oklahoma helps ensure evidence remains intact and reliable.
  • Legal Certainty:  It provides certainty to potential defendants that after a specific period, they will not be held liable.
  • Encourages Promptness:  It motivates injured individuals to pursue their claims in a timely manner.

In conclusion, the personal injury statute of limitations in Oklahoma for claims serves a vital role in maintaining legal fairness and ensuring the effectiveness of the judicial process.

Statue of Lady Justice - What is the personal injury statute of limitations in Oklahoma?

Are There Exceptions to the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Oklahoma?

Yes, there are certain exceptions to the two-year personal injury statute of limitations in Oklahoma for filing claims. While the general rule is that a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the injury, several circumstances may alter this timeline:

  • Discovery Rule:  If injuries are not immediately apparent and are discovered at a later time, the statute of limitations may begin from the date the injury was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. This means that individuals who experience delayed-onset injuries should still have the opportunity to seek legal recourse within a reasonable timeframe.
  • Minor Children:  If a minor is injured, they generally have until two years after their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit. This extended timeframe allows young individuals to focus on their recovery and well-being before taking legal action, ensuring that their rights and interests are protected during this critical period of their lives.
  • Defendant’s Absence:  If the defendant, who is responsible for causing an injury, chooses to leave the state before a lawsuit can be filed, it’s important to note that the time of their absence may not be considered when calculating the two-year limit for the personal injury statute of limitations in Oklahoma. This means that the two-year timeframe within which legal action can be initiated may not include the duration of their absence from the state.
  • Medical Malpractice Claims:  In cases of medical malpractice, the personal injury statute of limitations in Oklahoma can be extended. The timeframe generally begins when the act of malpractice was discovered or should have been reasonably discovered. However, no matter when the malpractice is discovered, under most circumstances, a lawsuit must be filed within seven years of the date of the malpractice event.
  • Defendant’s Incarceration:  If the defendant is incarcerated, it may also alter the personal injury statute of limitations in Oklahoma timeline. The duration of the defendant’s incarceration might not be counted towards the two-year limit. Therefore, the plaintiff may still have the option to file a lawsuit after the defendant’s release from jail. This ensures that a defendant’s imprisonment does not prevent an injured party from seeking justice and compensation.
  • Cognitively Incapacitated Individuals:  If an individual is cognitively incapacitated at the time of the injury, the personal injury statute of limitations in Oklahoma may not begin until the individual regains capacity or a legal representative is appointed. This ensures that individuals who are unable to understand or act on their legal rights due to cognitive impairment are still afforded the opportunity to pursue a personal injury claim.
  • Victim Died as a Result of Their Injuries:  When an individual tragically loses their life due to injuries, it’s important to understand that the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit differs from a personal injury claim. The family or estate of the deceased has a two-year window, starting from the date of the person’s death rather than the date of the injury, to initiate a wrongful death claim. This timeframe allows the family or estate to pursue justice and seek rightful compensation for the profound loss they have endured.
  • Governmental Negligence:  Exceptionally, if the personal injury claim involves negligence by a government entity or employee, claimants may have to adhere to different procedural rules and timeline restrictions. In these cases, it is crucial to consult with a legal professional to understand the steps to take, as the processing of such claims can be more complex and the statutory period might be shorter than the typical two-year period for personal injury claims.

These exceptions highlight the complexity of personal injury law in Oklahoma, and underscore the importance of obtaining legal advice if you have been injured. Navigating these exceptions can be complicated, and failing to file a lawsuit within the required time period can result in losing the right to pursue the case altogether.

Book with "Statute of Limitations" written on it - The Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Oklahoma

Are There Special Deadlines for Filing Personal Injury Claims Against the Government in Oklahoma?

Yes, there are special deadlines when it comes to filing injury claims against the government in Oklahoma. In cases where a personal injury claim is against a city or county in the state, a formal claim must be filed with the appropriate government entity within 1 year of the injury date, as per Title 51, Section 156 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

If the claim is against the state government, a notice of claim must be presented to the Office of the Risk Management within 1 year of the date of loss as per Title 51, Section 152.1 of the Oklahoma Statutes. Failing to meet these specific deadlines could lead to your claim being immediately dismissed.

It’s important to remember that these deadlines are significantly shorter than the standard 2-year personal injury statute of limitations in Oklahoma for filing claims. This highlights the critical need for swift action when a government entity is involved in a personal injury claim. As always, it is strongly recommended to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to ensure all necessary steps are taken in accordance with the law.

How Long Do I Have to Notify the Government of My Injury Claim?

In Oklahoma, the timeframe to notify the government about a personal injury claim differs based on whether the claim is against a city or county, or the state government itself. If you are filing a claim against a city or county, you are required to file a formal claim with the appropriate government entity within one year of the date of the injury, according to Title 51, Section 156 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

On the other hand, if your claim is against the state government, you must present a notice of claim to the Office of the Risk Management within one year from the date of the loss as per Title 51, Section 152.1 of the Oklahoma Statutes. It is imperative to adhere to these deadlines, as failure to do so could result in your claim being dismissed. It is also recommended to seek legal counsel to ensure all necessary steps are undertaken within the stipulated timeframes.

In the event that the government does not respond or take action within 90 days after you have filed your notice of claim, you have the right to proceed with filing a lawsuit. According to the Oklahoma Statutes, Title 51, Section 157, if the Office of the Risk Management or the applicable governmental entity does not settle the claim or deny liability within 90 days, it is deemed as a denial.

This enables you to move forward with your legal action and adhere to the personal injury statute of limitations in Oklahoma. However, navigating the legal landscape can be challenging, and it is advisable to consult with an experienced attorney to guide you through these complex processes and ensure your rights are fully protected.

Are Your Damages Capped in Personal Injury Claims Against the Government in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, when engaging in legal action against the government, the damages one can claim are capped by law. These limitations are outlined as follows:

  • The general cap on damages for injuries suffered in a single occurrence is $125,000.
  • If the lawsuit is against a city or county with a population of 300,000 or more, the cap rises to $175,000.
  • In the case of medical malpractice against state-owned hospitals, the damages are limited to $200,000.

It’s worth noting these caps as it can significantly impact the potential compensation one might receive. Remember, it’s always recommended to seek legal advice to fully understand your rights and the intricacies of your case including the timelines relative to the personal injury statute of limitations in Oklahoma.

Male judge holding clock and money at courtroom. Personal injury statute of limitations in Oklahoma

What Happens If I’m Partly to Blame for the Accident?

Oklahoma operates under the principle of “modified comparative negligence.” In essence, this means that if you share some responsibility in causing an accident – if you are partially negligent – you are still eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. However, your share of the negligence proportionally reduces your damage compensation. Be aware, though, that if your negligence exceeds 50%, you become ineligible to receive any damage compensation at all, as per Oklahoma Statute Title 23, Section 13 (2023).

For instance, let’s imagine a car accident where the driver of Car A was speeding, and the driver of Car B failed to signal before turning. In this case, both drivers contributed to the accident. After a thorough investigation, it is determined that the driver of Car A was 40% at fault for speeding, while the driver of Car B was 60% at fault for not signaling.

Under Oklahoma’s modified comparative negligence law, the driver of Car A can still recover damages because they were less than 50% at fault. However, their compensation would be reduced by their percentage of fault. So, if the total damages were calculated to be $10,000, the driver of Car A would only receive $6,000 (or 60% of the total damages) after their 40% fault is subtracted.

Even if you are partly to blame in an accident, it is important to file your claim within 2 years of your accident to adhere to the personal injury statute of limitations in Oklahoma. The statute of limitations varies by state in the US, and typically the law that applies is the state in which the accident occurred. Further, negligence laws vary by state in the United States, so if an accident occurred in Oklahoma, the laws in Oklahoma typically apply even if you are not a resident of the state.

Does Oklahoma Limit Personal Injury Damages?

Caps on personal injury damages vary by state, and the relevant state law is for the state in which the accident occurred. Oklahoma law restricts certain personal injury damages, specifically:

  • The Oklahoma Constitution disallows limits on damages in personal injury cases resulting in death, except for workers’ compensation and government-related cases (Okla. Const. § 23-7).
  • Previously, noneconomic damages in most personal injury cases were capped at $350,000. However, this limit was found unconstitutional by the Oklahoma Supreme Court and no longer applies.
  • Punitive damages, designed to punish severe misconduct, are limited and depend on the defendant’s behavior.
    • For reckless actions, the cap is the higher of $100,000 or the amount of actual damages.
    • For intentional, malicious acts, the cap is the greater of $500,000 or twice the amount of actual damages (Okla. Stat. tit. 23, § 9.1).
  • The likelihood of punitive damages impacting the value of a personal injury case is relatively low as they are rarely awarded.

If you are involved in a serious accident, hire a legal team that will understand all the law and file your claim within 2 years of your accident following the personal injury statute of limitations in Oklahoma.

Contact Thompson Law for a FREE CASE REVIEW and get answers to all your questions regarding your specific case. Our personal injury accident lawyers can help you understand your legal rights, and get started working on your case today.

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State law limits the time you have to file a claim after an auto accident. If you have been injured in an accident, call now to get the help you need.