Comparative Negligence in Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s modified comparative negligence law states you can claim damages if you are assigned less than 50% fault.
Written by Tiffany Leung
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
implements a modified comparative negligence law, meaning drivers are only allowed to recover damages from the other party’s insurance if they were less than 50% at fault for an accident. 
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What is comparative negligence?

Comparative negligence is a principle that determines the negligence of each party involved in an accident. Insurance companies then pay out the appropriate amount proportional to each driver’s level of fault.
Imagine being in an accident where you are assigned 40% fault, whereas the other driver is assigned 60%. You will be responsible for 40% of the other driver’s damages and the other driver will be responsible for 60% of yours.
Comparative negligence principles apply when assigning fault for personal injury lawsuits or third-party insurance claims. The juror or insurance company will allocate partial blame to all parties involved before determining how much each person can recover.

Comparative negligence vs. contributory negligence

There are three possible rules of comparative negligence that your state can follow: pure comparative negligence, modified comparative negligence, and contributory negligence. Here’s more about each type: 
  • Pure comparative negligence: Everyone is allowed to make a claim proportional to the fault of the other party.
  • Partial or modified comparative negligence: Only those with under 50% or 51% fault can recover their losses. 
  • Contributory negligence: Only those assigned zero fault can recover their losses.
Out of all the states, there are 12 pure comparative negligence states and 5 pure contributory negligence states.

What is Oklahoma’s comparative negligence law? 

Oklahoma is one of many states observing the modified comparative negligence rule. Each party can file a claim after an accident if they are assigned less than 50% fault.
For example, if you were found to be 20% at fault, you are entitled to recover 80% of damages to you and your vehicle. On the other hand, the other driver will not be awarded any compensation since they were over 50% at fault.
MORE: Oklahoma car accident laws

What happens if there are more than two responsible parties? 

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companies will allocate fault to all parties responsible. Again, anyone involved in the accident who is less than 50% at fault will be entitled to damages from either or both insurance companies. The compensation each party receives will depend on how much fault was assigned to them.

How is fault decided in a comparative negligence case?

Before assigning fault, insurance providers will consider all the evidence and read through the police report.
It would be beneficial for you to submit as much detail about the accident as possible for a fair assessment. Write down as much information as possible, including the weather and road conditions, the time and date of the accident, and details about the cars and drivers involved.
If there are witnesses, you should also get their statements along with photos of the scene and damage incurred.
Insurance companies will have a better picture of what happened when you supply more details. This will greatly help with assigning fault accurately.

How does car insurance work with comparative negligence? 

A modified comparative negligence state like Oklahoma will only allow damages to be compensated when a party is less than 50% to blame. The compensation you are awarded will be determined by the percentage of fault assigned to the other driver.
For illustration purposes, imagine you were involved in an accident near a busy area. You were driving in your lane but got cut off by another driver and you ended up rear-ending them. The insurance companies investigated and found the other driver was driving recklessly by weaving through busy traffic.
However, the insurers also found that you were driving slightly above the speed limit, which increased the chances of collision. The other driver is assigned 65% of the fault for driving dangerously, but you are also assigned 35% of the fault.
Following Oklahoma’s modified comparative negligence law, you will be compensated for up to 65% of your losses through the other driver’s insurance. On the other hand, your insurance will not be required to compensate the other driver’s losses since they are over 50% at fault.
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Yes. Your demographics, the car you drive, and your driving record are important determinants of how much your insurance premiums cost. After an at-fault accident, you may be considered a risk to your insurance company, which can lead to a 20% increase in your premium.
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