Common Terms You Might Come Across in Your Car Accident Case

Oklahoma Car AccidentsDealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be tough. Besides coping with injuries, medical bills, and damage to your property, you might feel overwhelmed by all the legal words and phrases you’re hearing as you’re simply trying to get compensation for what you’ve been through. While a Tulsa car accident attorney will help you through the process, understanding these legal terms yourself is really important.

Many of these legal terms are the building blocks of your car accident case. They’re the way you talk about your case, what you need to do, and what you’re asking for. If you don’t really understand these words, you could be in a tough spot when you talk to insurance companies, lawyers, or even the court. An understanding of these topics can empower you to make informed decisions about your case, ultimately leading to a more favorable outcome.


A complaint is a formal and structured legal document initiated by the injured party which serves as the opening act in the legal actions that follow. Complaints, as they are called in federal court, are known as a petition in state court.  In the context of Oklahoma car accident cases, the filing of a complaint represents the official beginning of the legal process. When a car accident victim decides to pursue a lawsuit against the responsible party—typically the at-fault driver—they start by drafting and submitting a complaint to the appropriate court. This complaint outlines:

  • The offense
  • Details of the accident
  • Alleged negligence of the other driver
  • Damages suffered


Damages refer to the compensation sought by the injured party in a car accident case to cover the losses they have incurred as a result of the occurrence. In Tulsa, damages encompass a wide range of financial and non-financial losses. These may include:

  • Medical expenses, both past and future
  • Costs associated with repairing or replacing damaged property
  • Income lost due to the accident-related injuries
  • Intangible losses, like pain and suffering


Discovery can be defined as the formal legal procedure during which both parties involved in a lawsuit gather essential evidence and information to construct and support their respective cases. This phase plays an important role in ensuring transparency and fairness throughout the legal proceedings.

The discovery process takes on various forms to uncover the truth and establish the facts surrounding the incident. These may include document requests, where parties seek relevant records and documents from one another, depositions, where individuals provide sworn testimony under oath, and interrogatories, which are written questions that parties must answer truthfully. These elements help ensure that both sides have access to the information they need to strengthen their arguments and build a compelling case.


Liability is the legal responsibility one holds for their actions or events that lead to harm, damages, or injury to another person. In car accidents, it pertains to establishing who is legally at fault for the collision and, consequently, who is responsible for compensating the injured party.


Negligence refers to when someone fails to act with reasonable care. Negligence can be proven by showing someone didn’t do what they were supposed to do or inversely, did something they were not supposed to do. Damages, as described above, must then stem from the faulty acts or omissions. In the context of car accidents, it means that if a driver didn’t exercise the level of care expected under the circumstances and this lack of care led to an accident, they would be considered negligent and be held responsible for the harms they caused.


A settlement represents an agreement reached between the parties involved, which effectively resolves the legal conflict without having to go through a lengthy and potentially difficult trial process.

It’s not uncommon for car accident cases to find resolution through settlement negotiations. These settlements can offer numerous advantages, including avoiding litigation, saving time and financial resources, and providing both parties with a degree of control over the outcome. Additionally, settling a case can often expedite the process of obtaining compensation for injured parties, allowing them to address their medical expenses, property damage, and other losses more promptly.

Statute of limitations

The statute of limitations is a legal principle that establishes a specific timeframe within which a lawsuit must be initiated. In a car accident case, the person who got hurt has to begin the lawsuit within this time limit. Normally, the lawsuit is against the person who caused the accident, often the driver who did something wrong.

In the context of car accident cases in Oklahoma, the statute of limitations typically spans two years from the date of the incident. This means you have two years from the date of the accident to either have your case settled or have a lawsuit filed. If you wait longer than two years, you may be barred from recovering damages.  While the general rule is two (2) years, there are exceptions that could shorten or lengthen the statute of limitations for certain injured parties, such as minors, or specific causes of action, such as a claim against a government entity or municipality.

Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage

Uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage is a type of insurance that offers protection to an insured in case they’re involved in an accident with a driver who either doesn’t have insurance (uninsured) or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the damages (underinsured).

In Tulsa, it is not required to have uninsured motorist coverage, but it is often a smart move.  Recent data shows that 13.4% of Oklahoma drivers are uninsured. By having this type of coverage added to your policy, you provide yourself with an extra layer of financial protection. In the event of an accident your insurance policy can step in to help with medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering, assuming you have purchased UM/UIM.

If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, you need a Tulsa car accident attorney to help assist you through the nuances and complexities of the claims process. At Biby Law Firm, our experienced team is committed to guiding you through every step of the process and ensuring that you receive the justice and compensation you deserve. Call our office or fill out our contact form to schedule your free case review at one of our Tulsa offices today.