If you were injured by a negligent, uninsured, or underinsured driver, the Oklahoma City car accident attorneys of Abel Law Firm could help you secure the compensation you need to cover your medical expenses and losses.
Car insurance isn’t a luxury. It is a necessity according to Oklahoma law. Yet, Oklahoma has one of the highest percentages of uninsured drivers out on the roads. Local media reports that as many as 600,000 drivers in the state do not have car insurance. That means nearly one in four drivers is on the road without coverage.
So, when a driver without insurance causes an accident, and you end up injured, is it fair that you are the one who ends up having to pay? You could be seriously injured and on the hook for expensive medical bills while losing money because you can’t make it to work.
At Abel Law Firm, we don’t think you should be punished when someone breaking the law caused an accident. You have legal options, and the team at Abel Law Firm can help.
If you’ve been involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, call our office today at (405) 239-7046 to schedule a free initial consultation.
What Are Oklahoma’s Car Insurance Laws?
Driving a car is not a right. It is a responsibility. Like all states, Oklahoma requires all individuals who operate a motor vehicle to carry insurance for that vehicle. The required amount of liability coverage in the state is as follows:
- Minimum of $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident that was caused by the driver/owner of the insured motor vehicle
- Minimum of $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people in an accident that was caused by the driver/owner of the insured motor vehicle
- Minimum of $25,000 for property damage per accident caused by the driver/owner of the insured motor vehicle
This minimum liability coverage does not pay to repair or replace your vehicle if you cause an accident. It is meant to protect other drivers out on the road in case your negligent actions cause a collision. Liability coverage will pay for the medical bills and property damage to the other vehicle if you are to blame for the accident.
Again, this is the minimum amount of coverage that is required by Oklahoma state law. It assumes that if everyone carries this minimum amount of coverage, no matter who is at fault, a victim can gain some compensation.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
State law required you to carry car insurance. Therefore, if a driver is involved in an accident and cannot provide proof of insurance, they may be on the hook for criminal penalties. In Oklahoma, you may be penalized with a fine of $250 and 30 days in jail. You may also face having your driver’s license suspended.
Your Oklahoma Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage
When the at-fault driver doesn’t carry the car insurance required by law, you can turn to your own uninsured (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Motorists can purchase this additional coverage to cover their own losses in the event of an accident. While uninsured motorist coverage is not required by law, with the number of uninsured drivers out on the roads, it’s strongly recommended that you carry UM/UIM insurance. Imagine, at almost every intersection you drive through, at least one uninsured motorist is likely present.
UM/UIM insurance will cover your personal injuries and those of your family members and the passengers in your car in the event of an accident with an uninsured driver. UM/UIM does not cover your car’s damage, as this is covered separately under collision insurance.
File a Claim with Your Insurer
If you’re injured in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you must file a claim with your UM/UIM insurance policy. This sounds straightforward enough. But unfortunately, the reality is that the process is usually far from straightforward. Insurance companies are for-profit companies always looking out for their bottom line, which means they’re always looking for ways to offer you the smallest settlement they can or even deny your claim.
Insurance companies will send you many unnecessary forms to fill out to get you to sign away your right to compensation, or they’ll try to get you to say something that shifts fault onto you so that they can get away with paying you less.
An experienced attorney can handle this process for you and work hard to ensure you receive the full compensation you’re owed. They’ll review every form you’re sent, gather the evidence needed to support your case and negotiate aggressively and skillfully with the insurance company to see that your injury expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering are covered. When you work with a compassionate and determined car accident attorney, you will likely receive a much higher settlement than if you try to navigate the process independently.
If the insurance company fails to offer you the settlement you’re owed, we’ll always be prepared to take your case to court to fight for the compensation that is rightfully yours.
Is It Worth Pursuing an Underinsured/Uninsured Driver?
If you don’t have UM/UIM insurance, or even if you do, you may want to pursue a lawsuit against the uninsured driver. Is it worth filing a lawsuit against an at-fault, uninsured/underinsured driver? Yes, it can be, and we’ll explain why.
Oklahoma is a “fault” car accident state. Understanding this makes a difference when it comes to accidents with uninsured drivers. A “fault”-based system means that if a driver is found to be responsible for causing an accident, they are responsible for any resulting harm that comes from that accident, such as medical bills or property damage.
What “At Fault” Means
If an uninsured driver in a fault state causes an accident, a victim can sue the driver for damages. Those damages may include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. Without auto insurance, the uninsured motorist could be held personally responsible for paying those damages out of pocket.
Many people assume that if someone can’t afford insurance, they won’t be able to pay a victim’s medical bills or property damage. This belief results in several victims eating the cost of the accident instead of looking into legal options. Why pay for an attorney when you won’t be able to get a dime out of an uninsured motorist? This can be the wrong way to look at the situation.
To begin with, legal action against an uninsured motorist signals that they can’t get away with doing something wrong. They aren’t let off the hook to go out and cause another accident; there are legal ramifications for their negligent actions.
Obtaining a Judgement
Second, if a lawsuit against an uninsured motorist goes to court, the victim may obtain a judgment against the uninsured driver. This gives the victim several options for satisfying the judgment and recovering compensation. The courts may be able to locate assets, an inheritance, or real estate holdings that could help satisfy the judgment. In some cases, wages may even be garnished to satisfy a judgment.
It is also interesting to note that Oklahoma has adopted what is known as a “no pay, no play” rule. This rule stipulates that if you do not have valid car insurance at the time of an accident, you, yourself, are limited when it comes to the types of compensation you can receive. A driver without insurance cannot recover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. It means that if you can’t abide by the law and carry insurance, you shouldn’t be able to benefit from someone else who is doing the right thing by carrying insurance.
How an Experienced Oklahoma Accident Attorney Can Help
Whether holding an uninsured driver accountable for their actions or negotiating a settlement with your insurance company, the law firm of Abel Law Firm can help you get the compensation you deserve after an accident.
There are ways to legally recover money from an uninsured motorist, and you have the right to pursue them. The Oklahoma City car accident attorneys at Abel Law Firm can help. Contact us today at (405) 239-7046 for a free initial consultation.