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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 111568
Experience:  Attorney with over 24 years of law and traffic law
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In a 3-car rear end collision in Oklahoma City, OK, who is

Customer Question

In a 3-car rear end collision in Oklahoma City, OK, who is liable for damages? My insurance company says that the law in Oklahoma is that if the driver of the car that started the chain reaction leaves the scene and cannot be identified, then no one is liable and I must pay for the damages (my insurance claim is for $1800 w/$500 deductible) to my car. I left enough room between my car and the one in front of me so that even though I was pushed forward, I did not collide with it. Shouldn't the driver behind me have done the same?
My question is: Is there really a law in Oklahoma which addresses this situation the way my insurance company explained it to me? If so, what is the verbage of the law or statute?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Traffic Law
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.

My name is***** have over 16 years experience in the law. Should you like to chat on the phone I am happy to for a nominal cost. Let me know at any time during our question and answer session if you are interested I am happy to give you more details.

OK uses the common law for liability. That is, if there is an accident, then the driver responsible for the accident bears liability.

You say
My insurance company says that the law in Oklahoma is that if the driver of the car that started the chain reaction leaves the scene and cannot be identified, then no one is liable and I must pay for the damages

That is not accurate...that is, there is NO such law in OK. Again, OK uses the common law for assessing liability. So whichever driver(s) was (were) responsible are liable.

Now...your ability to force a driver to pay is limited by your ability to identify that driver.

So if there is an accident and the responsible driver leaves the scene and can not be identified? That may well make it impossible to hold them liable (from a practical standpoint).

But this is not the same as a law that says if a driver manages to flea the scene they are not liable...no such law exists.

Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to help if I can. Otherwise, please rate the answer so I may get credit for my work.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Does the driver who was pushed into me bear any liability?
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.

That depends on the circumstances. But generally speaking, if someone hit you because they were negligent (not properly operating their car) they are liable for the damages they caused.

Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to help if I can. Otherwise, please rate the answer so I may get credit for my work.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That's the question. Can negligence be attributed the girl who rear ended me? If there is some legally defined minimum distance to be adhered to when pulling up behind vehicles stopped a a traffic light, then it sounds like negligence to me, as she was obviously too close. Or, is it as my insurance company says it is? That State law is that the person who runs into the last car in a line of cars waiting at a stop signal is responsible for all vehicles damaged in the collision.
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.

Thanks

Negligence is defined as failure to exercise a duty of care. There is no "black and white" rule...it depends on the circumstances

But I agree with you, if a person was following so close that they could not react if the car in front stopped...and they hit the car in front? That would likely be negligence.

Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to help if I can. Otherwise, please rate the answer so I may get credit for my work.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I guess if you're not going to answer the question, I'll look elsewhere. How do I get my 5 bucks back?
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.

I will be happy to opt out and allow other experts to assist you. If you want a refund of your deposit you can contact customer service.

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

I am a DIFFERENT CONTRIBUTOR. Your previous expert was correct in that there is no black and white issue here. The OK courts look at whether or not "but for" the actions of the other driver your car would not have been damaged. Thus, the car that hit you can indeed be liable to you, but you have to prove that they did not leave reasonable distance between your car and their car and had they done so then they would not have hit your car when the other car hit them.

There is no way to provide a "yes" or "no" answer on negligence liability in the case you describe. You have to prove that the car behind you that hit you did not have sufficient space and based on the speed of the third driver as well that they should have been far enough behind you to avoid contact with your vehicle when struck by the third vehicle.

Your insurance company would love to have it so in all cases the vehicle that started the chain reaction was liable for all damages, but that is not necessarily the law. In OK the courts look at each collision as a separate accident for which ultimately through various actions the driver that started the chain collision may be responsible, but how it works is this:

Vehicle 1- 3rd vehicle that started accident

Vehicle 2- middle vehicle

Vehicle 3- your vehicle.

Vehicle 2 is liable to Vehicle 3 for damages, but Vehicle 1 is liable to Vehicle 2 for damages, which includes reimbursement of whatever Vehicle 2 had to pay to Vehicle 3 for their damages. If Vehicle 1 flees and cannot be found, then Vehicle 2 is still liable in most cases for damages to Vehicle 3.