If you were involved in a car accident, it is important that you understand who is liable for your damages.
In a no-fault accident state, individuals are required to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage, a minimum amount of personal injury protection insurance, and a minimum amount of bodily injury coverage. These insurance requirements are often stricter because individuals in these states must pay for their own damages regardless of whom was at fault for the accident. For many people, this set-up seems unfair, as if another person causes an accident, the innocent driver's insurance company must still pay up. When a person files an insurance claim, his or her premium almost always soars. Fortunately, Oklahoma is not a no-fault state. Rather, it is an at-fault state. To learn more about what this means for you post-accident, contact the Ponca City car accident lawyers at Boettcher, Devinney, Ingle & Wicker today.
In at-fault states such as Oklahoma, the at-fault driver's insurance company is liable for all damages sustained in an accident. Generally speaking, the driver's bodily injury liability coverage would cover the other driver's medical expenses and the property damage liability would cover the cost of auto repairs. How much in damages the insurance company would be required to pay all depends on how much fault the plaintiff assumes.
In addition to abiding by at-fault laws, Oklahoma also abides by a modified comparative negligence standard. What this means is that the amount of damages a victim may recover is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to him or her. For instance, if a driver assumes 25% responsibility for an accident, his or her settlement will be reduced by 25%. If said driver's damages amount to $20,000, the amount he or she would actually receive would be $15,000.
There are three main benefits to living in an at-fault state. For one, at-fault laws ensure that liable parties are held accountable for their reckless behavior. In no-fault states, negligent drivers are only accountable for themselves, a fact that often fails to deter drivers from acting in a reckless manner. Second, insurance rates are not likely to increase for innocent parties in fault states. In no-fault states, both parties' insurance rates are likely to increase post-accident. Finally, accident victims can sue for damages that exceed minimum insurance requirements in fault states. In no-fault states, drivers can sue, but only if their injuries meet certain criteria.
Of course, there are some pitfalls to fault laws. Because insurance companies have to pay out claims regardless of fault in no-fault states, they are pretty quick to settle and pay up as there is nothing really to prove accept that an accident occurred. In fault states, the same can not be said, and it may take months for an insurance company to finally agree to pay. Also, in fault states, an insurance company has the right to deny a claim. If that happens, you may be forced to take your case to court, which will mean legal fees, more time, and expended resources.
Another pitfall of fault laws is that if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, you may not be able to collect compensation at all. While you could sue the driver, there is a good chance that he or she will not have enough funds or assets to cover the cost of damages. In no-fault states, you do not have to worry about uninsured or underinsured drivers, as you are only required to cover yourself.
If you were involved in a car accident in Oklahoma and want to better understand your rights under the state's fault laws, contact the Ponca City car accident attorneys at Boettcher, Devinney, Ingle & Wicker today. Our team can inform you of your rights and advise you on the best course of action for recovery.