When it comes to car accidents, Oklahoma is an at-fault state. This means that the person responsible for an accident is also responsible for covering all injuries and repairs involved. In theory, this should be a smooth, easygoing experience. The at-fault driver’s insurance pays for everything you need, and there’s nothing left to fret over.
In practice, however, problems can arise. One such problem occurs when the at-fault driver’s insurance benefits aren’t enough to cover your expenses. To legally drive, you must be insured. Many citizens, however, cannot afford high monthly premiums, so they opt to pay for the bare minimum coverage.
The minimum liability coverage in Oklahoma is often described as “25/50/25.” It pays up to $25,000 for bodily injury, up to $50,000 per accident, and up to $25,000 for property damage.
Just seeing these numbers on the screen, it’s easy to assume that they’re enough to cover your expenses. They might be, provided that your injuries and property damage aren’t severe. Recovering from a car accident is expensive. The cost of medical treatment alone can get very high very fast. A catastrophic injury can cost over one million dollars in just the first year of treatment.
USE YOUR INSURER
Many insurance companies offer UIM, or Underinsured Motorist Coverage. This benefit provides extra help when minimum liability hasn’t covered everything. Benefits vary from insurer to insurer. Call your insurance company about their UIM options, and see how it can help you.
RELY ON UMBRELLA INSURANCE
Umbrella insurance is a broad term for “extra” insurance that you can add to your policy. Often, it protects you from liability in a car accident. If your accident involved a commercial vehicle, the at-fault driver may have umbrella insurance. Truckers, rideshare drivers, delivery drivers, etc. often have extra coverage in case they are at fault in a car accident.
FILE A CLAIM AGAINST A THIRD PARTY
Determining fault in a car accident can get complicated. Everyone has their side of the story, and no one wants to take the blame.
These situations get even more complex when outside forces influence drivers. Sometimes, a driver appears to be at fault, but they are reacting to poor road conditions or a blocked view. They are officially blamed for the accident when outsiders don’t know the full story.
The government is responsible for the upkeep of roads and highways. Allowing these streets to fall into disrepair is dangerous. If your accident was the result of poorly managed roads, you may have grounds to file a claim against the government. Doing so is complicated, and you will need a highly skilled lawyer to make it work.
Roads, however, are not always under the government’s jurisdiction. Private roads and parking lots are the responsibility of landowners. If a poorly kept parking lot causes an accident, you could have grounds to file a claim against the business owner.
Roadways must be clear of objects that block your vision. A simple overgrown bush can be deadly when it blocks visibility on a turn. Buildings, statues, benches, or foot traffic can also make it hard to see what’s coming.
If your accident was caused by poor visibility, you may be able to file a claim against a third party. Liability could rest on someone who allowed their property to decrease visibility. It could also be on the government for poorly placed signage, buildings, and so on.
A DRUNK DRIVER
Clearly, when someone chooses to drive drunk, they are responsible for their own actions. If they cause an accident, they could find themselves in serious legal trouble, both criminal and civil.
The story, however, does not always begin or end with the driver. Establishments that serve alcohol have a responsibility to use their best judgement. If a patron is clearly over the edge of intoxication, the bar, restaurant, nightclub, etc. should cut them off.
If your accident was the result of a DUI, have your attorney investigate the events leading to that accident. They may uncover a bigger story. When an establishment fails to stop serving someone who is clearly too drunk to function, it could be held liable for your car accident.
PERSONAL INJURY CASES
When all else fails, it’s time to take the matter to court. Depending on your circumstances, you can file a lawsuit directly against the driver. In this process, you must prove, in court, that the driver was negligent. This negligence directly resulted in an accident which, in turn, directly resulted in your injuries.
To win your case, your legal team must present a “preponderance of evidence.” This means that the court must be at least 51% convinced of the defendant’s guilt to rule in favor of the plaintiff.
In a personal injury trial, you can be directly compensated for your damages. You can be repaid for your medical expenses, property damage, and any income you lost during recovery. You may also be eligible for “non-economic” damages, compensating you for your pain and suffering. In cases of extreme negligence, the court could also punish the defendant with “punitive damages,” extra costs on top of the initial compensation.
If you’ve been hurt in an auto accident, reach out to our firm for a free consultation. We can review the facts of your case, and we may be able to offer you options for receiving benefits. Our number is 918-492-7674, and you can reach us online.