Chris Hammons | February 9, 2024 | Car Accidents
The various states have devised different ways of handling car accident claims. The two main systems divide “at-fault” states from “no-fault” states. So, is Oklahoma a no-fault insurance state?
No, it isn’t. Oklahoma is an at-fault insurance state. Either way, though, Oklahoma car insurance companies are busy. In 2021 alone, over 9,000 car accidents occurred statewide, with over 700 deaths. Oklahoma roads are some of the nation’s most dangerous.
How Auto Accident Claims Work in At-Fault States
In an at-fault state like Oklahoma, you have two options after a car accident that you have good reason to believe was the other driver’s fault:
- File a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance carrier; or
- Sue the driver directly in court.
Most people file third-party claims, open negotiations with the insurance company, and use the threat of a lawsuit as leverage in settlement negotiations.
Oklahoma Mandatory Insurance Requirements
Oklahoma law requires all drivers with cars registered in-state to purchase the following minimum amount of insurance:
- $25,000 in bodily injury liability insurance per person,
- $50,000 in bodily injury liability insurance per accident, and
- $25,000 in property damage liability per accident.
You can purchase more insurance than these minimum standards require, and you can purchase other types of insurance (collision insurance, for example, or uninsured motorist insurance).
Evidence That Can Help You Prove Fault
Following is a very abbreviated list of the types of evidence you can use to help you prove fault in an Oklahoma car accident:
- Police reports: Police reports are usually inadmissible in court. Nevertheless, they make good leverage in settlement negotiations, because the defendant knows that you can simply call the police officer who wrote the report as a witness in court or at a deposition.
- Witness statements. Testimony from eyewitnesses who are unrelated to you is persuasive evidence. Testimony from your relatives and friends, or people who stand to gain if you win your claim, is less persuasive.
- Traffic cameras and CCTV footage: There’s no more persuasive witness than a camera, because a camera doesn’t care in the slightest who wins or loses your claim.
Your lawyer can help you find and generate many other types of useful, admissible evidence.
Comparative fault applies when two or more parties share blame for an accident. In car accident cases, this typically means that two drivers were at fault. Under Oklahoma’s comparative fault law, a driver who is 50% or more at fault cannot qualify for any compensation.
A driver who is less than 50% at fault loses that percentage of damages that corresponds to their percentage of fault. If they were 20% at fault, for example, they will lose 20% of their damages.
Is Oklahoma a No-Fault State for Car Damage?
Both of these types of insurance will cover damage to your vehicle regardless of fault. They won’t cover your injuries, however.
How Auto Accident Claims Work in No-Fault States
In no-fault states, every driver must purchase personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. In the event of an accident, a driver typically looks to their own PIP policy to compensate them for their injuries, regardless of fault. The injured party cannot file a lawsuit, and they cannot seek non-economic damages. Only if their injuries are “serious,” as defined by state law (or if another limited exception applies), can they escape the PIP system and file a lawsuit.
Noneconomic Damages: At-Fault States vs. No-Fault States
Non-economic damages often add up to several times the amount of economic damages. This is why injury victims in no-fault states typically end up with only a fraction of the damages they would win in an at-fault state. Nevertheless, claims are more difficult to win in at-fault states because you have to prove fault to win.
An Oklahoma Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You Prove Fault
Since at-fault states like Oklahoma allow you to proceed directly to a lawsuit or to negotiations with the at-fault driver’s liability insurance company, it’s best to get a lawyer involved early.
It’s not just a matter of whether you “win.” What matters most is that you obtain the full value of your claim, instead of a ‘lowball’ offer issued by an insurance company. An experienced Oklahoma car accident lawyer can help you deal with even the stingiest insurance company.
Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers at Laird Hammons Laird Trial Lawyers for a Free Consultation
For more information, please contact an experienced Oklahoma City car accident lawyer at Laird Hammons Laird Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free initial consultation today. Our law office is located in Oklahoma City.
We proudly serve Oklahoma County, OK and its surrounding areas: