If you have been involved in a car wreck that was not your fault, you might be wondering what the car accident insurance limits are that the at-fault driver carries. Like most every other state in the nation, Oklahoma requires the drivers of motor vehicles to maintain minimum automobile liability insurance. The minimum liability insurance requirements in Oklahoma are:
- $25,000 for per person;
- $50,000 for multiple injuries; and
- $25,000 for property damage.
(Note that these are the minimums required by law – motorists are free to purchase auto insurance policies with limits higher than these minimums). There is no requirement that Oklahoma drivers purchase a policy rider that provides them with benefits in the event an uninsured motorist injures them.
It is well understood that car insurance policies are there to compensate you (or others) in the event of a car crash. What may be more confusing is exactly how insurance policies come into play following an Oklahoma car crash. Attorney Michael Carr of Carr & Carr, Attorneys at Law, provides some much-needed clarification about how liability insurance operates in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma is a Fault-Based State
Oklahoma is one of a number of states that follows a “fault-based” insurance scheme in the context of car accidents. This generally means that the insurance carrier of the at-fault motorist is responsible for paying the claims of the injury victims (up to the applicable policy limit). For example, suppose Driver A negligently runs a red light and strikes Driver B, causing Driver B to suffer injuries. (Assume Driver B is not at fault in any way for contributing to the crash). The insurance carrier of Driver A would be responsible for paying for Driver B’s injuries and losses. If Driver A’s policy limits are set at the state minimums, this would mean that the insurance company would be potentially responsible for paying up to $25,000.00 in total compensation. This is true even if Driver B has damages that exceed $25,000.00.
This arrangement means that before any insurance company will pay compensation to a person other than its own policyholder, the insurance company will need to determine that its policyholder was at fault in causing the crash. This means that injury victims may experience a delay in obtaining compensation if there is a question as to who was at fault in causing the crash.
What Happens if the Policy Limits are Exceeded?
In a car crash or personal injury case, any amount that is not paid by the at-fault person’s insurer can be held to be the responsibility of the at-fault person him or herself. In the example above, assume Driver B suffers $75,000 in injuries and losses. Driver B may sue Driver A personally for the additional $50,000 that is not covered by Driver A’s insurance company. If Driver B is successful, then Driver A will be personally responsible for paying Driver B $50,000. However, it can be difficult to collect money from a person individually since that person can declare bankruptcy or ask to pay out the sum over many years.
If your damages exceeds the insurance carried by the at-fault driver, you may be entitled to compensation from your own automobile insurance carrier if you carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Approximately 25% of Oklahoma drivers are uninsured. So, if you should always sign up for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage if you can.
What Options Do I Have if I Was Injured in a Oklahoma Car Crash?
If you find that you have been injured in an Oklahoma car accident, we have three options for obtaining compensation:
- File file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company directly. Before this insurance company will pay your claim, though, the insurer will need to be convinced that its policyholder was at fault in causing the crash; or
- File a claim with your own insurance carrier. This would be appropriate if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and\or medical payments coverage
- In certain cases, it is better go straight into filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This typically occurs when the case is complex and not one that has much of a potential of resolving in the claims process.
Navigating the recovery process following a car crash can be tricky and will require an attorney to make a number of decisions that can impact not only how long your case will take to resolve but also what sort of legal recovery you might be able to obtain. Be certain that you have an experienced and knowledgeable Oklahoma car crash attorney on your side. Contact Carr & Carr, Attorneys at Law, at (800) 777-4878 if you or a loved one have been injured in a car crash. We can help you file a claim with an insurance company and/or file and prosecute a claim for damages in court.
We have offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Northwest Arkansas. If it is not easy for you to travel and see us at one of our offices, we would be more than happy to travel to see you.