Like almost every state in America, Oklahoma law requires those who drive motor vehicles to have automobile liability insurance. The purpose of liability insurance is to give financial protection to a driver who harms another person or their property. Liability insurance covers injuries to third parties and their property, but it does not cover the at-fault driver's damages. If you have been in a car accident that was not your fault, then you should be aware of the car insurance limits of the other driver.
In Oklahoma, the minimum liability insurance requirements are:
- $25,000 for per person;
- $50,000 for multiple injuries; and
- $25,000 for property damage.
These are only the minimum requirements that each driver is required to carry by law. Drivers can purchase liability insurance with limits that are much higher than the minimum coverage. How do insurance liabilities impact you in the event of an Oklahoma car accident? First, you must understand that Oklahoma follows a fault-based system.
Oklahoma's Fault-Based Insurance System
An insurance scheme that is said to be "fault-based" generally means the insurance carrier of the person who is at-fault is responsible for paying the claims of the other driver, up to the amount applicable in the at-fault driver's policy. For example, if the first driver runs a stop sign and strikes the second driver, the first driver is said to be at-fault. The first driver's insurance carrier is therefore responsible for paying the second driver's property and personal injuries. The at-fault driver's carrier must pay at least the amount set at the state minimums, which are at least $25,000 for property damage.
The insurance carrier undertakes an investigation before it agrees to pay compensation to anyone who suffers injuries or property damage in an accident. The insurance carrier is trying to determine whether its policyholder is at fault, meaning that they caused the accident. Since the insurance carrier must first investigate the accident, there is quite often a delay in obtaining compensation after an accident.
When Car Accident Policy Limits Are Exceeded
An insurance carrier is only responsible for paying the amount of coverage in the at-fault driver's policy. If a person is injured and their damages are more than the amount provided for in the other driver's insurance policy, then the person can sue the other driver personally to pay for the rest. So for example, if Driver 1 suffers $75,000 in damages because Driver 2 ran a stop sign, and Driver 2's insurance policy only covers the minimum required under the law, then Driver 1 will need to sue Driver 2 for the additional $50,000 which is not covered under the at-fault driver's minimum policy.
It is often difficult to collect money in a lawsuit from an at-fault motorist, since an at-fault driver may not have enough assets to cover the judgment. At-fault drivers often declare bankruptcy or delay payment over several years. This problem is exacerbated when the other driver is uninsured. Some insurance liability policies will cover some of your damages when the other driver is uninsured or your damages exceed the motorist's policy limits. Understanding your insurance coverage and adding uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is a good way to ensure your losses are covered.
Steps to Take When You Are Injured in an Oklahoma Car Crash
When you are injured in a car accident, you have options. The first option is to file a claim with the other driver's insurance company. The insurance carrier will not pay your claim unless they investigate and determine that the other motorist is at fault. You can also choose to file a claim directly with your own insurance provider. If you have coverage against an uninsured or underinsured motorist, then it makes sense to file a claim.
The other option is to consult with a lawyer and file a lawsuit against the person who caused the accident. Lawsuits are a good option when there is a complex case with serious injuries that seems to be stalled during the claims investigation process.
Contact an Oklahoma Car Accident Lawyer
Communicating with insurance companies is tricky and having an attorney will help you achieve resolution faster. By consulting with an Oklahoma car crash attorney, you will receive advice about how much you can obtain and which options make the most sense. Contact an Oklahoma car accident lawyer to find out more. Contact our law firm today, or call 405-542-2529 (542-CLAW) and one of our attorneys will speak with you about your case. Read more about our team, or continue reading and researching our free legal information library, or enter live chat.