Oklahoma Car Accident and Personal Injury Laws



If you've been injured in a car accident in the State of Oklahoma, you may have questions about how the laws will affect your property damage and/or personal injury claim. In this article, we'll review the laws most commonly associated with car accidents. To read the entirety of each law, visit the Oklahoma Legislature website and search for the numbers of each statute.

Here are the Oklahoma car accident and traffic laws we'll cover:

Pedestrian Laws

Pedestrians and Crosswalks

When traffic-control signals are not in place or not operating, the driver of a vehicle must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is in the path of the vehicle or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely as to be in danger.
Section 47-11-502

Restrictions on Pedestrians Crossing Roadways

No pedestrian is permitted suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.
Section 47-11-502

Pedestrian Control Signals

Whenever special pedestrian control signals, exhibiting the words Walk or Don't Walk shall indicate as follows:

  1. Walk. Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right of way by the drivers of all vehicles.
  2. Don't Walk. No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, whether flashing or steady. Any pedestrian who has partially completed the pedestrian's crossing on the Walk signal shall complete the crossing to a sidewalk or safety island while the Don't Walk signal is showing.
Section 47-11-203

Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks

Pedestrians intending to cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.

Pedestrians must use only the marked crosswalk to cross between two adjacent intersections that have traffic-control signals in operation.
Section 47-11-502

Pedestrians on Roadway

Where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon adjacent roadway.

Where sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians are permitted to walk only on or along the left side of the roadway or on it's shoulder facing traffic from the opposite direction.
Section 47-11-504

Pedestrians' Right of Way on Sidewalks

The driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building, private road, or driveway shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian approaching on any sidewalk extending across the alley, building entrance, road, or driveway.
Section 47-11-704

Drivers to Exercise Due Care

The driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the driver's horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.
Section 47-11-504

Driving Laws

Obedience to Traffic Control Devices

A driver must obey any traffic control devices applicable to the driver, unless directed by a traffic or police officer.
Section 47-11-201

Driving on Right Side of Roadway

Drivers must drive in the right lane of roadways with the following exceptions:

  • When passing another driver in the same direction
  • When there is an obstruction in the right lane
  • Upon a roadway with three marked lanes of traffic
  • Upon a roadway restricted to one way traffic
Section 47-11-301

Passing On the Left

Driver proceeding in the same direction must pass to the left at at a safe distance and shall remain in the passing lane until it is safe to return to the right lane. Drivers being passed must not increase the speed of their vehicle until their vehicle is completely passed by the overtaking car.
Section 47-11-303

Limitations on Overtaking on the Left

Drivers may drive to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle only if the left side is clearly visible and the overtaking vehicle can return to its lane without coming within one hundred feet of oncoming traffic.
Section 47-11-305

Passing On the Right

Drivers may pass on the right under the following conditions:

  • When the driver about to be passed is about to make a left turn. However, the driver attempting to pass on the right must not do so without driving off the pavement of main-traveled portion of the roadway.
  • When the roadway has two (2) or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
  • On a one-way street where the roadway is free from obstructions and wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles.
Section 47-11-304

Following Too Closely

A driver must not follow another driver more closely than is "reasonable and prudent", having due regard for the speed of other drivers and traffic conditions along the roadway. A driver who is towing another vehicle must leave sufficient space ahead of their vehicle to allow an overtaking vehicle to enter and occupy this space without danger.
Section 47-11-310

Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices

Drivers must not drive while using a cellular telephone or electronic communication device to write, send, or read text-based communication.
Section 47-11-901c

Drivers and Intersections

When two (2) drivers approach an intersection at approximately the same time the driver on the left must yield to the driver to their right.
Section 47-11-410

Drivers Intending to Turn Left at Intersections

A driver who intends to turn left must yield the right of way to drivers approaching from the opposite direction.
Section 47-11-402

Drivers Entering or Crossing a Roadway

A driver about to enter or cross a roadway from any place other than another roadway must yield the right of way to all other vehicles on the roadway to be crossed.
Section 47-11-404

Bicycling Laws

Bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as drivers of cars, and are subject to the same penalties as are drivers for violating traffic laws.
Section 47-11-1202

Motorcycling Laws

Motorcyclists and Lanes of Traffic

A motorcyclist must not pass another driver in the same lane.
Section 47-11-1103

"Lane Splitting"

Motorcyclists must not pass another driver in the same lane. Commonly known as "lane splitting," motorcyclists sometimes attempt to pass other drivers when traffic is slowed, or bumper to bumper. To move forward through traffic motorcyclists sometimes drive between cars. Doing so is not only illegal, but quite dangerous.
Section 47-11-1103

Helmet Law

All motorcyclists less than 18 years of age must wear helmets while riding on roadways. If the motorcycle is not equipped with a windshield, then motorcyclists must also wear protective eyewear while riding on roadways.
Section 47-12-609

Motorcycles and Headlights

Every motorcycle riding on a roadway must be equipped with at least two lighted headlights.
Section 47-12-203

Driving Offenses and Accident Requirements

Full Time and Attention to Driving

Drivers must devote their full time and attention to their driving.
Section 47-11-901b

Reckless Driving

A driver who drives in careless or wanton manner without regard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving, and can be fined and imprisoned.
Section 47-11-901

Alcohol and Minors

A driver under the age of twenty one (21) must not drive upon any roadway after drinking any measurable amount of alcohol.
Section 47-11-906.4

Driver's Duty to Give Information and Render Aid

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage must give their name, address and vehicle registration number, and must upon request exhibit his driver's license and their security verification form to any person involved in the accident.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Section 47-10-104

Accidents Involving Non-fatal Bodily Injury

A driver involved in an accident resulting in non-fatal injury must give their name, address and vehicle registration number, and must upon request exhibit his driver's license and their security verification form to any person involved in the accident.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Section 47-10-104

Accidents Involving Death

A driver involved in an accident resulting in death must give their name, address and vehicle registration number, and must upon request exhibit his driver's license and their security verification form to any person involved in the accident.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Section 47-10-102.1

Accident Involving Damage to Vehicle

A driver involved in an accident resulting in property damage to an attended vehicle must give their name, address and vehicle registration number, and must upon request exhibit his driver's license and their security verification form to any person involved in the accident.
Section 47-10-103

Accidents Involving Damage to Unattended Vehicle

A driver who collides with a parked car or who collides with an unattended car must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must attempt to locate and notify the driver or owner of the damaged car or damaged property.

Once located the driver who caused the accident must give their name, address and vehicle registration number, and must upon request exhibit his driver's license and their security verification form to any person involved in the accident.

If the driver or owner of the damaged car or property cannot be located, the driver who caused the accident must attach a written note to the damaged property in a conspicuous place giving their name, address and vehicle registration number, and must upon request exhibit his driver's license and their security verification form.
Section 47-10-105

Driver's Duty to Notify Police Department

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage of $300.00 or more must immediately by the quickest means of communication give written notice to the nearest local police department.
Section 47-10-107 and 47-10-108

Accident Report Forms

The Department must prepare and make available to police departments, coroners, sheriffs, garages and other suitable agencies or individuals forms for accident reports.

The written reports must call for detailed information about the cause, conditions then existing and the persons and vehicles involved in the accident.
Section 47-10-113

Open Alcohol Container Law

A driver or passenger must not be in possession of an opened container of an alcoholic beverage while on Oklahoma roadways.

An opened alcoholic beverage container can be kept only in the trunk of a vehicle or in a rear compartment that is not accessible to the driver or passengers while the vehicle is in motion. It cannot be kept in the utility or glove compartment.

Passengers of a hired bus or limousine can consume and possess an opened container.
Section 21-1220

Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

A driver must not drive after drinking an alcoholic beverage or consuming an intoxicant in an amount which renders the driver incapable of driving safely along roadways. In Oklahoma, a driver is guilty of the offense of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher.
Section 47-11-902

Ignition Interlock Device

A driver who is guilty of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant might be ordered to have installed at his or her own expenses an ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device will serve to restore the driver's driving privileges during the pendency of the driver's probation. If an ignition device is installed, it must be installed in every car owned or operated by the driver.

An ignition interlock is a device which measures any amount of alcohol contained in a driver's body. Before starting the car the driver must blow into a tube emanating from the ignition interlock device. If the device then detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than is permitted by law the car will not start and the violation will be reported to the prosecutor, the probation officer, and/or the judge. At that point the driver may be subject to loss of driving privileges, immediate arrest and incarceration up to the maximum term provided by law.
Section 47-11-902

Liability Laws

Oklahoma and Dram Shop Law

Oklahoma does not have a dram shop law. Dram Shop Law refers to the liability of private social hosts, bars, hotels nightclubs and other commercial establishments who serve alcohol to patrons or to minors for injuries intoxicated patrons or minors cause to third parties such as in car accidents.

A private social host is the host at a private party, such as a wedding reception, a corporate sponsored event, a gathering of friends at a private residence, where alcohol is served not for profit.

Financial Responsibility Car Insurance Minimum Limits

In the State of Oklahoma, each motor vehicle must be covered by an insurance policy that includes liability coverage of the following amounts for all damages resulting from an accident:

  • At least $25,000 per person
  • At least $50,000 for two or more people
  • $25,000 per occurrence for property damage
Section 47-7-324

Oklahoma Insurance Information

For information about auto insurance, see the Oklahoma Department of Insurance Auto Insurance FAQ webpage.

Comparative Negligence (51% Rule)

In Oklahoma, the victim in a car accident can sue the negligent driver for compensation. The victim's liability in causing the accident, their comparative negligence, affects the amount of compensation the victim receives.

If the victim contributed less than 51% of the negligence that caused the accident, then their compensation is reduced by the amount they contributed to the accident. If the victim contributed 51% or more of the negligence that caused the accident, then the victim is barred from receiving any compensation.
Section 23-13

Example of Comparative Negligence (51% Rule)

One morning, Jackson was driving north on his way to work. At an intersection, he pulled into the left turn lane. At the same time, Melanie approached the intersection from the opposite direction. Suddenly, Jackson turned left into Melanie's lane and their cars collided.

Melanie sustained serious brain injuries and damage to her car, totalling in $100,000 dollars worth of damages.

After their investigation, the police determined that Jackson had failed to yield according to traffic laws. A pedestrian witness told police he saw Melanie texting at the time Jackson's car crashed into Melanie's. As a result, the police issued Melanie a citation for using a mobile device while driving.

Melanie sued Jackson for $100,000 and claimed he was 100% at fault for the accident because he did not yield to her right-of-way. At trial, the jury found Jackson liable for failing to yield the right-of-way. However, the jury also found Melissa liable for using a mobile device while driving and partially responsible for the accident.

The verdict stated Jackson's negligence equaled 70% of the accident, and Melanie's equaled 30%. The jury awarded Melanie only $70,000 dollars.

In the event the jury had found Jackson's negligence equaled 49% of the accident, and Melanie's equaled 51%, the jury would be barred by law from awarding Melanie any compensation for the damages.
Comparative Negligence: Section 23-13
Right of Way: Section 47-11-402
Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices: Section 47-11-901c

Oklahoma's Fault-based Car Insurance

In Oklahoma, car owners are required to purchase liability insurance. In the event of an accident, the at-fault driver is liable for the personal injuries and damages caused as a result of the accident. To receive compensation, victims of car accidents can file a claim with the insurance provider of the at-fault driver or they can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in civil court.

For information about auto insurance, see the Oklahoma Department of Insurance Auto Insurance FAQ webpage.

Statute of Limitations

Oklahoma has a two (2) year statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims. This means if a driver, passenger, or passerby is injured or sustains property damage at the hands of a negligent driver, the victim file a lawsuit within the two (2) year period following the accident, otherwise the victim is barred from pursuing the negligent driver in court.
Section 12-95

Small Claims Courts

In Oklahoma, victims of car accidents can choose to sue the negligent driver in small claims court. The jurisdiction of a small claims court regarding personal injury and property damage is limited to a maximum of $7,500, exclusive of filing fees and court costs.

For more information about filing a small claim, visit the local county court website.

Oklahoma Government Tort Claims - Sovereign Immunity

In Oklahoma, it is possible to submit a claim against a governmental agency or its employees for personal injury or property damage as a result of negligence on the part of the governmental agency or its employees.

The claim must refer to an lawful action on the part of the governmental agency or employee performed in the scope of their duties. If the injury or property damage occurred as a result of an unlawful action, then the claimant can sue only the person(s) who caused injury or property damage individually. The governmental agency would not be liable.
Section 51

Example

If Melissa, an engineer with the Tulsa Planning Department, ran a red light on her way to a worksite and caused an accident, then the City of Tulsa would be liable for the property damage and personal injuries caused by her.

If Melissa stopped for a few drinks and became intoxicated before heading to a worksite and causing an accident, then the City of Tulsa can claim sovereign immunity. Melissa performed an unlawful act and was not acting in the scope of her duties when she became intoxicated on her way to the worksite.

To seek compensation for damages, injured parties would have to sue Melissa personally. The determination of whether or not Melissa was acting within the scope of her duties would have to be decided during a trial.
Section 51
NCSL

Sources

State Government of Oklahoma

Oklahoma Department of Transportation

Oklahoma State Legislature

Oklahoma Department of Public Safety

Governors Highway Safety Association

Oklahoma Bar Association

National Conference on State Legislature

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