Oklahoma is an at-fault state, which means that a driver who causes an accident may be responsible for compensating injured parties for their economic damages, such as medical bills, pain, and suffering. Oklahoma also operates on the principle of comparative negligence, and the damages you can recover depend on the degree to which you are also responsible for the accident.
In almost all cases, drivers who are at fault use their insurance to pay for damages, and insurance companies are usually involved in car accidents. After the police investigation, insurance companies will designate one driver as the at-fault party or let drivers share fault.
Can a Claim Exceed a Defendant’s Policy Limits?
In a personal injury case, the claim amount may exceed the at-fault party’s policy limits. The state of Oklahoma requires motor vehicle drivers to maintain the following liability insurance minimums:
- $25,000 for physical injury per person
- $50,000 for physical injury per accident
- $25,000 for economic damage per accident
In many cases, drivers only take out liability insurance to meet these minimum requirements. When the claim amount exceeds the at-fault party’s policy limits, the at-fault party might be personally responsible for covering the difference. Whether an individual may be personally responsible for your injuries, over and above their insurance policy limits, depends on many things, such as the person’s personal assets and financial worth. Unfortunately, most people with minimum insurance limits typically do not have significant finances to satisfy a personal judgment.
Here is an example. Driver A skips a red light and collides with Driver B. In the accident, B suffers a personal injury and damage to their vehicle. Driver B’s claim for pain and suffering, lost wages, hospital bills, and vehicle damage amounts to $60,000. If Driver A’s insurance policy only covers the minimum of $50,000, A may be personally responsible for paying B the remaining $10,000.
If your claim is higher than the at-fault party’s insurance policy, you may be eligible to receive compensation from your own insurance company. To qualify for this compensation, you need to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage lets you cover your expenses if the at-fault declares bankruptcy.
Filing a Lawsuit
If you suffered damages in a car accident, there are several routes you can take to claim compensation.
With sufficient proof that the other party is at fault, you can file a claim directly with their insurance carrier. You can also file a claim with your insurance carrier if you have medical claim coverage or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
You can pursue a car accident lawsuit against the other driver. This action may be necessary if there is a dispute about who is responsible for the accident, if the case is complex, or if the relevant insurance carriers are unwilling to resolve your claim.
To file a lawsuit, you need the legal assistance of an experienced car accident attorney. At Bryan Garrett PLLC, we can help you navigate the legal process of filing a damage claim.
As part of our legal services, we strive to uncover the facts to determine liability. We will also represent your interests and can deal with insurance companies on your behalf. To schedule an initial consultation at our law office, give us a call at (405) 358-2342.