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.