Car accidents can cause traumatic injuries and significant financial losses. Victims of car accidents in Oklahoma might be entitled to compensation for their injuries and damages. However, they must first prove that the other driver was responsible for causing the collision.
Oklahoma Is an At-Fault State for Car Accidents
Oklahoma operates under a fault system for car accident claims. If you are injured in a car crash, you must prove that the other driver was "at fault" before you can recover compensation for your damages. Damages include your physical pain and suffering and your financial losses, such as medical bills and income loss.
Being "at fault" means that you are responsible for causing the automobile accident. For example, you turned in front of another driver at an intersection when that driver had the right of way. You would be responsible or "at fault" for the cause of the intersection accident.
Liability Insurance for Car Accidents
Oklahoma requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability car insurance. Liability car insurance compensates the victims of a car accident that you cause. Your liability insurance does not compensate you when you are involved in a car accident.
The minimum requirements for car insurance in Oklahoma is 25/50/25. What that means is that you must have the following minimum liability coverage:
- $25,000 bodily injury protection per person
- $50,000 bodily injury protection per accident
- $25,000 property damage protection
If you cause a car accident, your insurance company is liable up to the policy limits. The accident victim can sue you personally for the full amount of their damages. If the value of the damages exceeds your car insurance coverage, you are personally liable for the remaining amount of the judgment.
You can purchase higher amounts of liability insurance. For high-net-worth individuals or if you are worried about a personal judgment, insurance agents often advise purchasing additional liability coverage.
Unless you have PIP or Med-Pay coverage, you are responsible for your medical bills and lost wages for a car accident that you caused. You are also responsible for the damage to your vehicle unless you purchased comprehensive property insurance.
What Happens When I Am Not At-Fault for a Car Accident?
If the other driver caused the car accident, you could file a claim against the driver's insurance coverage for compensation for your damages. You must prove the other driver caused the crash. You must also provide evidence of your damages.
Evidence of damages includes copies of your medical records, proof of income loss, and copies of receipts or bills for other economic losses. Pain and suffering damages or non-economic damages are much more difficult to prove.
Pain and suffering damages include your injuries, mental anguish, physical pain, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress. There is not a bill or receipt to prove the value of these damages. A car accident attorney can help you calculate the maximum value for your pain and suffering damages.
If you were not at-fault for the car accident, you are entitled to full compensation for all damages. Whether you receive full compensation depends on factors, such as the value of your claim, the other driver's insurance coverage, and how a jury rules if your case goes to court.
If you shared responsibility for the cause of the car accident, Oklahoma's comparative negligence laws would reduce the amount of money you can receive for your car accident claim.
Comparative Negligence Laws in Oklahoma
Comparative negligence is a system of dividing liability for an accident between the liable parties. Each party is held liable for their negligent acts that led to the cause of the accident. You are responsible for the damages caused by the accident in proportion to your percentage of fault.
Four states use a pure form of comparative fault. Their laws state that if a victim contributed in any way to the cause of the victim's injury, the victim is barred from recovering any compensation for damages. Under that system, if you are even one percent at fault for a car crash, you cannot receive any money for your damages from the other party.
Oklahoma has a modified comparative negligence standard. You can recover a portion of your damages as long as you are not 51 percent or more at fault for the cause of the car wreck. Therefore, if you are judged to be 30 percent responsible for causing the crash, you can recover compensation for 70 percent of your damages.
An insurance company or the other driver might try to blame you for causing the car accident to avoid paying the full value of your injury claim. Allegations of fault after a car accident could hurt your case. Seeking legal counsel can be the best way to protect your legal right to fair compensation for car accident injuries.