What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Oklahoma?
Before we dive into the specifics of the rules in Oklahoma, let’s cut through some of the legalese and explain that a “statute of limitations” is a law that sets a time limit on your right to go to court and ask for a remedy for some type of harm, by filing a civil lawsuit. These deadlines vary depending on what kind of case you want to bring.
Oklahoma Statutes section 12-95 sets the statute of limitations for almost all lawsuits stemming from a car accident (except those for wrongful death; more on this later). Section 12-95 gives you two years to ask the state courts for a civil remedy for any personal injury or damage to personal property.
So, in the context of a vehicle accident case, that means if anyone was hurt in the crash -- whether a driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian -- or had their vehicle or other personal property damaged, they must get their lawsuit filed against any potential defendant within two years. For these injury and property damage cases, the two-year “clock” starts running on the date of the accident.
But if someone died as a result of the car accident, under Oklahoma Statutes section 12-1053 their family member or a representative of the estate also must file any Oklahoma wrongful death lawsuit within two years, but the “clock” starts running on the day of the accident victim’s death, which could be later than the date of the accident itself.
Whether it’s an injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim, the case will almost certainly hinge on whether someone’s negligence was the cause of the crash. Learn more about Proving Fault for a Car Accident.
It’s crucial to understand and abide by the statute of limitations as it applies to your situation. That’s because if you try to file your lawsuit after the statute of limitations deadline has already passed, the defendant is sure to ask the court to dismiss the case, and the court is very likely to agree that a dismissal is appropriate.
It’s always a good idea to leave yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit. At the very least, keeping all your options on the table will give you more leverage during settlement talks. So if the two-year statute of limitations deadline is approaching, you may want to talk with an experienced Oklahoma car accident attorney.
by: David Goguen, J.D.