In 2011, Oklahoma adopted a pure several liability approach for damages arising out of all civil actions excluding contracts. (Okla. Stat. tit. 23 § 15)
The plaintiff has a much bigger job in bringing a multiparty claim in Oklahoma because of this statute. How does this affect you if you are a plaintiff trying to settle a Tulsa truck accident claim?
Multiple Party Claim Issues in Tulsa
Multiple party claims can be difficult to muddle through. It can be difficult to understand who is at fault, and if more than one party is at fault, how to assign fault, and how to assign damages to the various persons at fault.
In vehicular accidents, sometimes you clearly have only one person at fault, but often, more than one person may be at fault.
Consider a multi-car accident for a moment. If you are the injured driver in the first car in the chain of cars behind you and you get hit again with each impact behind you, how do you assign fault?
What is Pure Several Liability?
You can think of the answer to the question as an allocation of the risk. In joint and several liability jurisdictions, the plaintiff can collect all of his or her damages from any of the culpable parties in a multiparty lawsuit.
This is true, even if that party was only 5% at fault in the accident. This puts the allocation of risk squarely at the defendants’ door.
In a pure several liability jurisdiction however, a plaintiff injured in an accident can only collect the portion of damages from each defendant attributable to that defendant’s fault. This puts the allocation of risk more on the plaintiff’s shoulders.
Identify all the Tortfeasors
The plaintiff has the burden of identifying and making claims against all the possible culpable parties. Each tortfeasor or defendant is only liable for damages that they caused. If your Tulsa truck accident is in the initial claim stages, you will need to work with an attorney experienced in multiparty claims.
You will need to make sure that you fully understand the logistics of how the accident was caused and by whom. You will most certainly need a detailed police report and pictures of all vehicles at the scene and the damages to each vehicle.
You may need to hire an accident reconstructionist to help you understand who is at fault and in what proportion. Each claim can then be settled according to your understanding of liability.
If the claim has now made its way to the court system, it is up to the plaintiff to make sure that all the possible tortfeasors are named as defendants to the lawsuit. If settlement occurs during this phase of the process, it may well happen as a result of a court-mandated settlement conference.
Sometimes, it is easier to hammer out a settlement at this stage, just because all the defendants are present and the liability picture may be clear at this stage. However, damages in the settlement will still be allocated only according to the relative fault of each defendant.
These cases can be complicated. Make sure that you understand how to get the compensation you deserve. An experienced personal injury attorney in the Tulsa area can make all the difference.
Free Consultation: Tulsa Car Accident Lawyer
To get help after a Tulsa car accident, contact an Oklahoma personal injury attorney at the Personal Injury Law Office of Tulsa today.
For a free, no-obligation consultation, call 918-924-5528 or send your question using the email form on this page.