Every state, including Oklahoma, has enacted various statutes of limitations, which dictate the time limit for filing a legal claim with the courts. These filing limitations are applicable to both criminal and civil law matters. With respect to automobile accidents, the statute of limitations starts running from the day the accident occurred. Generally speaking, Oklahoma imposes a two-year statute of limitations for the following civil damages claims under Oklahoma Statutes Title 12, § 91, et seq:
- Personal Injury
- Products Liability
- Property Damage
- Wrongful Death
There are, however, some important exceptions to this general rule. For example, while in most cases the statute of limitations begins to run from the date of the injury (e.g., car accident, dog bite, etc.) in some cases the statute does not begin to run until the victim has knowledge of the cause of his or her injury. This is generally referred to as the “discovery rule.” Its use is common in cases such as when an individual is injured by a medication or pharmaceutical product that was later determined to have caused the injury (e.g., the now infamous Fen-Phen diet drug combination lawsuits, or the more recent claims against Johnson & Johnson for injury caused by use of its talcum powder).
In some cases, the limitations period is shorter than two years. For example, when an injury is the result of state, city, or municipal action, or caused by a state, city, or municipal employee, your statute of limitations is much shorter. Injuries caused by state, city, or municipal actions or actors require the filing of a Governmental Tort Claim Notice to the appropriate state, city, or municipal official within one year of the accident and prior to filing a case in the appropriate district court.
If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you should first seek out appropriate medical treatment. Then, once you or your loved one are able, you should contact an attorney experienced in automobile accident matters. The preservation of evidence needs to begin immediately following your injury, and your attorney can handle this in conjunction with her investigation into the accident on your behalf. Your attorney also takes statements, gathers medical reports and bills, photographs the vehicles and location involved in the collision, and interviews witnesses. Your attorney also ascertains compliance with Oklahoma’s statute of limitations, ensuring that your personal injury or wrongful death claim is filed in a timely manner.
If you, or a loved one, have been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, call, Melissa Hedrick, for a free consultation at (405) 361-7844.
Part II: What Should I do if I’ve Been Injured in an Auto Accident?
This is the second installment of our two-part blog series in which our Oklahoma car accident attorney discusses steps you should take if you’ve been injured in an automobile accident. (Find the first installment here.) If you have specific questions, we invite you to contact the Hedrick Law Firm to learn about your rights.
Take Pictures and Get the Names and Contact Information of Witnesses:
Sometimes, due to your injuries, it may not be possible for you to take pictures of the scene. If you can, this may be important to your case later on, especially if fault is contested by the other party or their insurance company/defense attorneys. In this day and age, with cameras on almost every cell phone, even if you are unable to get photos, those who witnessed the accident, or passengers in your vehicle may be able to take photos. Consequently, in addition to taking photos, you should try to get the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident and may be able to provide information as to which driver caused the accident later on. Usually, this is something the police will do, but some witnesses may leave prior to police arriving. It is, therefore, incumbent upon you to request this information, if your injuries allow.
Do Not Sign a Release Immediately Following an Accident:
A common tactic among insurance companies is to procure immediate settlement of cases before the injured party has had an opportunity to determine the extent of their injuries, or while they are still treating for those injuries. This usually occurs where the insurance adjuster will make an offer of settlement immediately following the accident for far less than the value of the claim. As part of this offer, however, the insurance company will require you to sign a release waiving any and all claims, which includes those that you may not even know exist. You should not sign any documents from the insurance company until they have been reviewed by an experienced Oklahoma car accident lawyer, so you can learn about your rights and legal options.
Do Not Agree to Settle for Policy Limits Without First Discussing Your Claim With An Oklahoma Car Accident Lawyer:
While it might seem reasonable to settle with the adjuster for policy limits, it may not be in your best interest. Again, any settlement will require that you sign a release that waives all claims. Policy limits can be extremely inadequate, especially if the other driver only carries the minimum coverage that is required under Oklahoma law. It is important not to waive your rights without legal advice because you might have the right to recover more against an excess liability carrier, other defendants, or underinsured motorist coverage.
Don’t Go It Alone – Seek Out the Representation of an Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney:
Although some people attempt to handle their own personal injury claim, complex legal standards, evidentiary requirements, and procedural hurdles make the civil litigation system virtually impossible to navigate without an experienced lawyer. The cost of pursuing a claim can be tens of thousands of dollars, so most people cannot afford the war chest necessary to take on large insurance companies in court. The best approach is to work with an experienced personal injury attorney with a track record of obtaining large judgements and/or settlements in similar types of cases.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision, our Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyer has successfully represented many car crash victims in obtaining compensation for their injuries. At Hedrick Law Firm, we are here to help. Contact our firm today at 405-361-7844 to schedule your free consultation, so we can answer any questions you may have regarding filing your claim.
Steps To Take If You’ve Been Injured in a Car Accident?
This is the first of a two-part series in which our Oklahoma car accident attorney discusses steps you should take if you’ve been injured in an automobile accident. This is especially important because when you are experiencing intense pain and the emotional distress associated with a car accident, your judgment can be understandably impaired. If you’ve been injured, you should take steps to protect yourself and ensure your physical and emotional health are taken care of. Since the liability of the other driver is not automatic, the actions an injury victim takes following a motor vehicle crash can have a profound impact on an individual’s ability to recover for their injuries and resulting medical care, time off work, and future pain and suffering.
At the Hedrick Law Firm we have made it our goal to tenaciously pursue the fullest financial recovery for victims of negligent drivers. Therefore, this two-part blog series is designed to provide you with proper information that will help to ensure you recover for your injuries.
Contact Police and Always Exchange Insurance Information if You Are Involved in an Auto Accident:
Drivers who do not immediately notice injuries sometimes fail to contact police, or fail to even exchange information with the other driver. The decision to forgo contacting police or obtaining driver’s license, insurance, and contact information from the other driver can have devastating consequences if you subsequently experience injury symptoms. The assumption that a lack of immediate injury at the scene of the accident means you were not injured is absolutely false. It is common for injuries to manifest in the hours subsequent to an auto accident – usually after the adrenaline and shock of the accident have diminished. Therefore, if you’ve been involved in an auto accident, you should contact police and exchange information with the other driver.
Never Agree to a Recorded Statement or In-Person Visit from the Other Driver’s Insurance Adjuster Without First Speaking to an Attorney:
Even if the insurance adjuster for the at-fault driver seems amicable, a recorded statement or face-to-face meeting without legal representation is an extremely bad idea. The job of the insurance adjuster for the other driver is to minimize the liability and payout of claims. It is not to ensure you are adequately compensated for your injuries and time off work. The adjuster will not be looking out for your interests and can use a recorded statement or in-person meeting to avoid or minimize payment of your claim. Recorded statements or in-person visits are not designed to facilitate settlement of your claim (although the adjuster for the other driver’s insurance company might tell you that this is the case). The purpose is to preserve a record of you saying things that undermine your claim. The answers you give to questions might be used to shift blame for the accident to you, or to establish that your loss is not as substantial as you are claiming.
Promptly Obtain Medical Attention If You Are Injured:
Sometimes, auto accident victims avoid ambulance rides or emergency room visits for fear of running up a hospital bill. Sometimes, the emotional upheaval and shock associated with an auto accident can mask symptoms arising from car crash injuries. Failing to obtain prompt medical attention at the first sign of injuries, however, can have devastating consequences, including a worsening prognosis, and the loss of valuable medical evidence. Further, it is a common tactic of insurance companies and defense attorneys to point to any delay in treatment as evidence that a claimant did not suffer serious injury, or that your injuries are not a result of the auto accident.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, our Oklahoma Car Accident Lawyer is here to help. Melissa Hedrick has successfully represented many car crash victims in obtaining compensation for their injuries. Contact our firm today at 405-361-7844 to schedule your free consultation, so we can answer any questions you may have regarding filing your claim.
Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney Provides More Important Answers About Oklahoma Dog Bite Claims
This blog post is the second installment of our two-part series that addresses typical questions the Oklahoma personal injury attorney at Hedrick Law Firm receives. While this post provides answers to typical questions, the best way to obtain information about your unique circumstances is to speak to an experienced Oklahoma lawyer.
Are particular groups of people more likely to be the victim of a dog bite?
Yes. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 50% of children under age 12 experience injuries caused by a dog bite. Of those dog bites resulting in fatalities, 48% of those victims are children under age 14. Other groups typically at a higher risk of being victims of dog bites and dog attacks include the elderly, as well as those providing home services, such as meter readers and U.S. Postal Service carriers. In fact, the ubiquitous picture of a U.S. Postal Service carrier being chased and/or attacked by the family dog is grounded in reality, as 5,600 U.S Postal Service carriers are the victims of dog bites every year.
What legal deadlines apply to dog bite or dog attack injury claims in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma, like many states, has legal deadlines for various types of cases. This means a particular lawsuit must be filed within a certain period of time, or the claim may be permanently barred. While issues specific to each case may affect the limitation period, the general rule in Oklahoma is that a person injured by a dog attack must file their lawsuit within two (2) years of the date of the incident. Although two years seems like a long time, it is important that you contact an attorney immediately to analyze your specific scenario and deal with the insurance company while you, or your child, focuses on recovering from the injuries sustained as a result of the dog bite or attack.
What defense strategies might a dog owner and his or her insurance company use?
A common misunderstanding for many individuals is that defense strategies only begin when a lawsuit is actually filed. This is not true. In fact, once a dog bite and/or attack has occurred, the dog owner’s insurance carrier is already evaluating the claim to develop strategies to defend the claim and/or eventual lawsuit. This begins the minute the dog owner or insurance adjuster makes contact with you, seeking information as to the facts of the dog attack itself. While the actual defense strategy or strategies the insurance company might develop depends on the specific facts and circumstances of your case, some common approaches Melissa Hedrick, our Oklahoma personal injury attorney, frequently encounters include:
- Trespassing by the victim;
- Provoking the dog;
- Trivializing or disputing the injuries suffered by the victim;
- Unreasonable carelessness of the dog bite victim, an especially common defense where the dog bite or attack occurred in a rural community.
Our Oklahoma dog bite attorney analyzes your situation to determine the tactics the insurance company or dog owner will use to avoid taking responsibility for the injuries you suffered.
If you, or someone you love, has been the victim of a dog bite attack, our Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyer, Melissa Hedrick, is here to help. Contact our firm today at 405-361-7844 to schedule your free consultation, so we can answer any questions you may have regarding your claim.
This blog is the first of a two-part blog series addressing typical questions posed to the Oklahoma personal injury attorney at the Hedrick Law Firm. The average person typically views dog bites and attacks as rare occurrences that result in minor injuries. Our Oklahoma personal injury attorney recognizes that canine attacks all too frequently cause disfiguring injuries, especially among young children. Because dog bites often result in severe physical injury, families can struggle with significant financial hardships that might include loss of income, costly medical bills, counseling expenses, and other expenses.
Do I Need to Seek Medical Treatment if I am Bitten by a Dog?
The short answer: YES. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over 4.5 million people suffer dog bite injuries every year in the United States. Of those injuries, 1 in 5 bites will become infected, which can lead to serious illness or even death. For deep wounds, the CDC recommends you seek medical treatment immediately, calling 911 if you are unable to stop the bleeding. Even if the wound is minor, however, you should seek medical treatment immediately if it begins to look infected, or if the dog was aggressive.
In addition to the risk of infection, those with severe injuries should seek medical treatment immediately, as many dog bites require reconstructive surgery. In fact, during a recent one-year period, 27,000 people in the U.S. were forced to undergo reconstructive surgery because of a dog bite or attack.
Other Than Seeking Medical Treatment, What Else Should I Do If I am Bitten?
Once you have taken care of your health, your next call should be to the authorities, either the police or animal control, to report the dog bite. This is especially the case if you are not familiar with the dog and have no knowledge of its vaccine history.
You should also collect the name and any contact information of the dog owner, as well as contact information of any witnesses of the attack, or of persons with knowledge of the dog.
Finally, take pictures of your injuries and clothing. It is important to document all stages of your injury and recovery.
Are dog owners liable for the injuries their dogs inflict?
Oklahoma dog bite law differentiates the type and degree of proof necessary to hold the owner of the dog liable for your injuries based on the dog’s location. The legal community often refers to this as City Dogs vs. Country Dogs. And no, country dogs don’t wear cowboy boots and hats. Instead, the question is whether the dog – or more accurately the property on which the dog is situated – is located in a rural area.
If not, the owner of the dog is generally liable to the victim, but under Oklahoma dog bite law, the victim will still have to prove he/she was bitten and injured by the dog, the victim did not provoke the dog, and the victim was lawfully on the dog owner’s premises when the dog bite occurred. And though the question of ownership is not often contested, the victim will have to prove the identity of the owner. This issue occurs most often where the dog is able to escape its yard or enclosure, and the dog bite or attack occurs off the dog owner’s property.
If the dog is located in a rural area, Oklahoma’s strict liability law discussed above does not apply, but the dog owner may still be liable for the injuries caused by its dog. In such a case, the victim will have to prove his/her case of liability. While some states impose what is known as the “one bite” rule, under Oklahoma dog bite laws, the victim does not have to prove a dog’s “bite” history. Rather, Oklahoma dog bite laws impose liability on a dog owner who knows or should have known that his or her dog had dangerous or vicious propensities or tendencies, and who failed to exercise appropriate precautions.
If the dog has not previously physically attacked, mauled, or bitten a person, a careful investigation and artful advocacy often will be needed to prove the dog owner had the requisite knowledge of the dog’s vicious tendencies.
Evidence that we might use to establish the liability of the owner could include some or all of the following:
- Tendency to lunge, attack, threaten, or bark at people
- Prior complaints about the dog
- Dog’s breed
- Prior fight training
- Muzzling of dog
- Growling and snarling at people approaching the dog
- Displaying aggressive behavior toward other animals
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite or attack, please contact the Hedrick Law Firm to analyze your situation and determine the appropriate strategy we should take in your case. At the Hedrick Law Firm, we are here to help you. Contact our office today at 405-361-7844 to schedule your free consultation, so we can answer any questions you may have regarding your case.
A recent decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals could mean sharing your Netflix password is a federal crime. At least that’s the interpretation of the dissenting judge in the case of United States v. Nosal. In Nosal, the Ninth Circuit was tasked to determine whether the accessing of computer data with someone else’s username and password was unlawful under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) (18 U.S.C. §1030). In Nosal, the defendant’s access to his former employer’s computer program had been revoked, but he was able to access its program by using another employee’s username and password with that employee’s permission.
The Ninth Circuit determined this activity fell squarely within the CFAA’s prohibition, noting
“once authorization to access a computer has been affirmatively revoked, the user cannot
sidestep the statute by going through the back door and accessing the computer through a third party. Unequivocal revocation of computer access closes both the front door and the back door.”
The dissenting Judge, Stephen Reinhardt, however, was concerned with the scope of the Court’s ruling. Judge Reinhardt wrote the majority’s decision focuses on the “culpable behavior of the defendant,” and loses sight of the “anti-hacking purpose of the CFAA.” The opinion out of the Ninth Circuit, warns Judge Reinhardt, “threatens to criminalize all sorts of innocuous conduct engaged in daily by ordinary citizens,” including password sharing for access to sites like Netflix and Facebook – activities in which “millions of people” engage and which is “ubiquitous, useful, and generally harmless conduct.” Now, with this opinion, millions of people have been turned into “unwitting federal criminals.”
The problem, explains Judge Reinhardt, is the majority’s interpretation of the “without authorization” portion of the CFAA. The majority determined it meant “accessing a protected computer without permission.” Because a “protected computer” includes any “internet-enabled device” from laptops to iPads to even some thermostats, Judge Reinhardt cautioned that “without authorization” must be interpreted more narrowly, or the statute criminalized everything from actual computer hacking, as it is understood in the traditional sense, to innocuous behavior such as logging into a friend’s Facebook account even with that friend’s permission.
Therefore, according to Judge Reinhardt, “without authorization” should be interpreted narrowly to include accessing the protected device “without having the permission of either the system owner or a legitimate account holder.” Otherwise, the sweep of the CFAA could now mean you (and the person with whom you share it) are guilty of a federal crime if you share your password to Netflix, HBO, or Facebook with friends or family members.
This is a very interesting opinion with potentially far-reaching ramifications. If you have any questions about this, or any other issue, please feel free to call Melissa Hedrick at 405-361-7844.