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How Does a Severe Injury Affect My Car Accident Claim?

Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC

If you are badly hurt in an accident, you will need a greater amount of compensation to cover your treatment. The extent of your injury, however, is not always relevant to the damages you can receive. In any personal injury claim, the details of the accident are more important than how badly someone was harmed.

Insurance Claims

Insurance is there to help you if you are hurt. The amount of money you can receive is directly related to how badly you are harmed. The greater the injury, the greater the compensation. Even with that assistance, you will likely be expected to spend money on co-pays and deductibles, which can get quite expensive.

Furthermore, there are caps to how much money a car insurance company will give you. If you are badly harmed, you may receive only a portion of the overall expenses. Once this money is depleted, you may need to appeal to your health insurance company to help cover the rest of the bills, which could also come with deductibles and copays.

In Oklahoma, an at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for covering the injured party. If you were the one responsible for the accident, you will receive coverage, but you will likely experience a rise in your insurance premiums.

To summarize:

  • Your insurance will give you a greater amount of money if you are badly hurt.
  • You will pay for copays and deductibles.
  • If you are at fault, you can expect to pay more for your car insurance.

As you can see, the severity of the injury matters only in how much the insurance company pays.

A Severe Injury Doesn’t Affect Fault

As we’ve mentioned, Oklahoma’s insurance model is based on fault. No matter how hurt you are, fault matters to your case. The same is true in a personal injury lawsuit.

Personal injury is based on negligence, or what a person failed to do. For example, if someone texts while they drive, they are failing to pay attention to the road. When awarding damages in a lawsuit, the court is mostly interested in the details of the car wreck. It wants to know who was negligent, and, by extension, who should be granted compensation. Being severely injured doesn’t help your case. If you were responsible for the accident, the court will not award you damages just because you were harmed.

Comparative Negligence

However, there are ways to receive compensation in a car accident lawsuit, even if you are partly responsible. Oklahoma’s civil justice operates under a “comparative negligence” model, meaning that both a plaintiff and a defendant can be somewhat responsible for an accident.

A plaintiff can receive damages equivalent to the defendant’s percentage of fault. Let’s say you are suing someone for $100,000 worth of damages. The court, however, finds the defendant only 60% responsible for your injuries. In that case, you may receive only 60% of the overall damages, or $60,000. If a plaintiff is found 51% or more responsible for their injuries, they cannot receive any compensation.

When You Are Not At-Fault

Insurance Benefits

If you are not responsible for a car accident, your insurance benefits should not be affected. You should receive compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance. The amount you receive will vary depending on the insurance plan of the at-fault driver.

Personal Injury Compensation

In a personal injury lawsuit, you can request more compensation if you are severely injured. Compensation, or damages, in a lawsuit are directly related to your expenses. With a severe injury, you will spend more money on treatment. Therefore, you will sue for a greater amount of money.

You could also be entitled to non-economic damages. Often, a lawsuit calls for “pain and suffering” damages, meant to compensate you for your misery. Lawyers use several complicated systems to arrive at an amount for pain and suffering, and they are all dependent on how severely you were injured. Put simply, the more you suffered from an accident, the more pain and suffering damages your lawyer can negotiate.

Finally, you could be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant for willful, egregious behavior. For example, the other driver could have been severely drunk, or maybe they intentionally targeted you on the road. Such behavior can be punished in court, forcing the defendant to pay a greater amount of damages beyond the economic and non-economic.

Talking With a Lawyer

If you’ve suffered a traumatic injury in a car accident, seek the services of a skilled attorney. They can help you decide how to move forward with your case. If you are worried about your degree of fault, they may have other options for you. They may even be able to see aspects of your case you missed, proving that you were not as responsible as you believe.

If you’ve been severely hurt in a vehicle accident, contact our firm for a free consultation. You can reach us online or call us at (918) 347-6456.