To bring a successful claim for negligence in Oklahoma, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of due care, that the defendant breached that duty, which proximately caused injury to the plaintiff and the plaintiff suffered damages as a result.
Modified Comparative Negligence
The law (Okla. Stat. 23 § 13) in Oklahoma allows a plaintiff to recover for a personal injury caused by the negligent actions of another as long as the plaintiff was 50% or less at fault for the injury. If this is the case, the plaintiff’s damage award will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff, if any. For example, if a jury returns a damage award in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $100,000 but attributed 20% of fault to the plaintiff for their injury, the plaintiff would be able to recover $80,000 of the $100,000 award.
If the plaintiff is found to have been 51% or more at fault, the plaintiff will be barred from recovery.
Joint & Several Liability
Under Oklahoma law, several liability is applied so that each defendant is only financially responsible for an amount which is proportionate to the percentage of fault attributed to each defendant. However, as seen in Boyles v. Oklahoma Natural Gas, 1619 P.2d 616-617 (Okla. 1980), if a court finds that the plaintiff was in no way contributorily negligent in causing his or her injury, the defendants – joint tortfeasors – will be held jointly and severally liable.
Compensatory damages are awarded by a court to compensate the plaintiff for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant(s). The award is meant to restore the plaintiff – as much as possible – to the condition they were in prior to the injury occurring.
Compensatory damages include reasonable expenses necessary for medical care; hospitalization and treatment; economic loss from loss of income (both past and future); pain and suffering; disability; disfigurement; and mental anguish.
In Oklahoma, non-economic compensatory damages are capped at $400,000, with certain exceptions not covered here.
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant rather than to compensate the plaintiff.
Oklahoma law does allow for an award of punitive damages where the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s conduct rose to the level of fraud, oppression, malice, actual or presumed, or conduct evincing wanton or reckless disregard for the rights of another.
Oklahoma statutory law specifically defines different categories of conduct on the part of the defendant warranting an award of punitive damages and sets a maximum statutory cap of the punitive damages award for each category of conduct. Where the defendant’s conduct is found to be intentional and malicious, there is no cap on the amount of a punitive damages award.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Oklahoma. Should you have a question/concern specific to Oklahoma law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Oklahoma.