It is well known that if you are injured as a result of another person’s misconduct or negligence, you are entitled to compensation from that party who caused your injury. Example: you were driving and came to a stop at a red light and another person from behind rear-ended your vehicle. They are obviously at fault and responsible for your vehicle damage and any personal injuries you suffered.
However, what if you are partly responsible for the accident, but you are badly injured? Or what if it is impossible to tell who caused the wreck, but you are still seriously hurt.
Are you completely hopeless?
The common law answer to this dilemma in Oklahoma has been the doctrine of Comparative Fault.
How Comparative Fault works in Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, state law expressly provides that a person’s contributory negligence shall not act as a total bar to recovery. However, any amount the injured person does recover shall be reduced in proportion to the amount of contributory negligence. If, a plaintiff’s contributory negligence is greater than the negligence of the other person involved, then the plaintiff cannot recover.
Therefore, in order to recover, your own negligence in contributing to your injuries must be 50% or less.
Determining Contributory Negligence
The law is very clear on who determines this issue: the jury.
Per the statute:
“The defense of contributory negligence or of assumption of risk shall, in all cases whatsoever, be a question of fact, and shall at all times be left to the jury, unless a jury is waived by the parties.” Title 23, Section 12.
Can you still seek costs if you win a verdict?
The answer is yes. If you go to trial, and obtain a verdict but the jury determines that you were also negligent, then the Court will reduce the amount of the judgment in proportion to the amount of negligence apportioned to you by the jury. You will still be considered the prevailing party for purposes of obtaining costs.