When you are involved in a car crash (or any type of accident) that was not your fault and you are planning on filing an injury claim, one thing you need to watch out for is a counter-claim. Oklahoma is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that victims are eligible for compensation only if they are less than 51 percent at fault for the accident.
This gives at-fault parties the opportunity to attempt to lay blame 50/50, and tip the scales in their favor with a counter-claim. Although counter-suing after a car crash with injuries is uncommon, it does happen, and most often occurs in cases when liability is indeed shared, or when there is a lack of evidence.
As a victim of a car accident, you can take several important steps to both strengthen your insurance claim and protect yourself from a potential counter-suit.
Protecting yourself from a counter-claim after a car crash
Most of these actions are steps anyone should take after an accident, but if there is any question about liability, documentation is especially important.
- Call 911 or fill out a police report. You must have a record of the collision or crash in order to file any type of claim. A report establishes when and where the accident and injury occurred, as well as the circumstances of the incident and who was involved.
- Seek medical treatment. Getting medical care immediately following an accident – even if you feel fine – is the best way to establish that your injuries were caused by the crash, and therefore by the at-fault driver. Save all of your medical paperwork, including all related expenses and receipts.
- Document all evidence. The more evidence you have of the crash, the better. If you are able, take as many photos as you can of the scene, the vehicles, and the damage. Try to get multiple angles. Get contact information from the other driver(s) and any witnesses to the accident.
- Consult with an experienced attorney. A good personal injury lawyer will sit down with you to examine the strength of your case. They work to show that you were not at fault for the crash that caused you injury, using police and accident reports, evidence, and witness statements. Honest attorneys will not take your case unless they are confident that you are eligible to pursue compensation.
When the evidence is on your side, an at-fault driver’s frivolous lawsuit is unlikely to succeed, which is why it is so important to document everything regarding your accident and following your doctor’s orders while healing from your injuries. And sometimes, just having an attorney on your side is enough to dissuade a negligent driver from even attempting a counter-claim.
You should never let the threat or possibility of a counter-claim scare you out of making a claim when you are injured in a car crash due to another’s negligence. Although Oklahoma is indeed a modified comparative negligence state, remember, you cannot be barred from compensation if you are less than 51 percent at fault.
Cunningham & Mears represents injury victims in Oklahoma City and throughout the state. To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation in our office call (405) 232-1212, or fill out the firm’s contact form to tell us about your case.
Ryan Y. Cunningham is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Cunningham devotes his practice to protecting the rights of injured Oklahoma residents. In addition to assisting injured clients, Mr. Cunningham endeavors to improve personal injury representation by speaking on issues related to personal injury law to attorneys in continuing legal education courses and to law students. Learn More