If someone else caused a car wreck that injured you and damaged your vehicle, you may wonder whether you should get an attorney after an accident that you did not cause.
You may think that since you didn’t cause the accident you have nothing to worry about and insurance will cover all damages. Unfortunately, insurance companies make establishing liability and pursuing compensation much harder than you would think.
You have every right to get an attorney to obtain the compensation you need, and you need someone on your side with your best interests at heart. Because of the complex process of obtaining compensation, hiring a lawyer offers you several benefits and increases your chances of getting the favorable results you expect and deserve.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in an Oklahoma car accident, reach out to an experienced car accident attorney today for a free review of your case and advice regarding your options.
How Can a Lawyer Help With Your Car Accident Injury Claim?
A car accident lawyer can provide you with:
- Legal advice and guidance: An experienced personal injury lawyer can explain your rights and guide you through the legal process. They can assess the strength of your case, advise you on the potential outcomes, and help you make informed decisions at each stage.
- Investigation and evidence gathering: A lawyer will thoroughly investigate the accident to gather evidence that supports your claim. This may involve reviewing police reports, collecting medical records, obtaining witness statements, analyzing photographs or videos of the accident scene, and consulting experts if necessary.
- Establishing liability: You must prove fault for the accident in a personal injury claim. Your lawyer will analyze the accident, review applicable laws, and work to establish liability. This may involve demonstrating negligence or proving that the other party breached their duty of care and injured you.
- Insurance negotiations: Insurance adjusters may minimize your claim or offer an inadequate settlement. An experienced lawyer can handle all complex and challenging communications with the insurance company on your behalf, advocating for your rights and seeking fair compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, property damage, and other losses.
- Calculating damages: Determining the value of your claim requires a thorough evaluation of your damages. A lawyer can assess your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other relevant factors to calculate fair and comprehensive compensation.
- Legal representation in court: If the insurance company won’t offer a fair settlement during negotiations, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and represent you in court. Your attorney will prepare your case, present arguments, examine witnesses, and advocate for your interests during trial.
An attorney can also offer you peace of mind. You have enough to worry about focusing on your physical recovery, and you don’t need the added stress and burden of obtaining compensation and dealing with the insurance company. A lawyer can do all the heavy lifting for you and handle all communications with the insurance companies and other defendants so you don’t have to worry about it.
What Are Oklahoma’s Insurance Laws?
Oklahoma is an at-fault, or tort, state for auto insurance. This means the person responsible for the accident must pay for the injuries and damages they cause to others.
Oklahoma requires all drivers to maintain liability insurance on registered vehicles. The minimum limits for liability coverage are $25,000 for bodily injury to one person per accident or $50,000 for more than one. The law also requires a minimum of $25,000 in property damage coverage.
Motorists may also purchase uninsured motorist coverage (UM), which covers you and any occupants in your vehicle if the other driver did not have insurance. UM insurance does not cover property damage.
Drivers in Oklahoma may also purchase Med Pay insurance, which provides medical expenses and funeral expenses to vehicle accident victims regardless of fault.
An attorney can review the at-fault driver’s insurance policy and determine the types of coverage they have. If the other driver’s insurance policy limits will not cover all your damages—or if the other driver had no insurance and your own auto insurance policy won’t cover your damages completely—an attorney can advise on avenues they can pursue to get the full amount of compensation you need.
What Are Oklahoma’s Comparative Negligence Laws?
Oklahoma follows a modified comparative negligence rule. This means you cannot recover compensation if the court finds you more than 50 percent responsible for the accident. Additionally, the court will reduce the compensation you can receive by the percentage of fault it finds you had for causing the crash and your injuries.
This is why you need an attorney in your corner when you seek compensation. A lawyer will understand Oklahoma’s comparative negligence laws and how the court assigns fault. An attorney can protect your rights and advocate for you if the other driver’s insurance company blames you for causing the accident and your injuries.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover After a Car Accident?
Following an Oklahoma car accident that you did not cause, your attorney can seek compensation. The damages you can recover will depend on the severity of your injuries, the circumstances of the accident, and other factors, but some common forms of compensation your lawyer can help you obtain include:
Medical Expenses and Treatment Costs
Your attorney can recover compensation to cover all your current and past medical expenses, including hospital bills, surgery costs, medication, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and any necessary medical equipment. You may also pursue compensation for future medical expenses if your injuries require ongoing treatment and therapy.
If your injuries caused you to miss work, your attorney can recover compensation for the income you lost. This can include any PTO you had to take or hourly wages you missed, as well as bonuses, tips, commissions, and other work benefits.
If your injuries result in a permanent or long-term disability, you may also recover any potential future earnings you would have received had you continued working in your former capacity.
If the accident damages or destroys your vehicle or other personal property, you can work with a lawyer to seek compensation for the repairs, or the fair market value of the property if insurance deems it a total loss.
Pain and Suffering
Along with the financial costs you incurred because of the accident someone else caused, you may also seek compensation for your intangible losses from the accident and your injuries.
Your attorney can obtain compensation for the physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish you experienced and may continue to endure. Calculating pain and suffering damages entails subjective judgments regarding the severity of your injuries, the impact on your daily life, and the expected recovery time.
Loss of Enjoyment
If your injuries caused you to lose the ability to participate in activities or hobbies that you previously enjoyed, you may recover compensation for your diminished quality of life.
If the accident killed a close family member, such as your spouse, child, or parent, your attorney could obtain damages through a wrongful death claim. This compensation can cover funeral and burial costs along with loss of consortium, loss of companionship, and other non-economic damages resulting from your loss.
In cases involving an at-fault party’s particularly egregious or intentional behavior, a court may award punitive damages. These damages punish the responsible party and deter similar conduct.
Although the compensation you qualify for and the amount of money you can receive depends on numerous factors, an attorney can thoroughly evaluate your damages and accurately calculate the compensation you can pursue. They can also fight for you throughout the process to improve your odds of success.
What’s the Process of Obtaining Compensation After a Car Accident?
The process of obtaining compensation after a car accident typically involves several steps. Consult a personal injury lawyer who can guide you through the specifics of your case. Here are the general steps involved:
Seek Medical Attention
Following a car accident in Oklahoma, seek immediate medical attention. You need to receive a thorough medical evaluation and follow all prescribed treatments even if your injuries do not appear serious. You need documentation that you sustained an injury and received treatment to file an injury claim.
Document the Accident
If you physically can after the crash, collect as much evidence related to the accident as possible. This can include photographs of the accident scene, property damage, and your injuries. Obtain a copy of the police report and gather contact information from any witnesses.
Notify Insurance Companies
Report the accident to your insurance company promptly. Provide accurate details about the accident, but never discuss fault or accept any settlements without consulting a lawyer. If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you regarding the accident, do not offer any information other than basic facts and refer them to your attorney to handle communications.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer
After you treat your injuries, contact a personal injury attorney. Consult a lawyer before reporting the accident to either your insurance company or the other driver’s insurer. A car accident lawyer will know Oklahoma laws, and they can evaluate your accident, assess your potential for compensation, and guide you through the legal process.
After they file your claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company, your lawyer can also negotiate with the insurer to obtain a higher settlement amount if they offer a lowball settlement that will not cover your damages. Once you accept a settlement, you cannot pursue additional compensation, so you need to work with your attorney to fully evaluate your damages and how much compensation you will need both now and in the future.
Filing a Lawsuit
If the insurer refuses to settle or they wrongfully deny your claim, your attorney can file a lawsuit against them in civil court and sue to get the money you deserve. Your attorney can guide you through the legal process, prepare your case, and represent you in court. Keep in mind that you and your attorney can continue to negotiate with the insurer before your case actually goes to trial and at any time during the process.
Trial and Judgment
If your case proceeds to trial, your lawyer will present your case and argue for your right to compensation. The judge or jury will then determine the outcome and award damages if they find the other party liable.
Oklahoma allows you only two years from your injury to file a lawsuit in civil court. Therefore, you must act quickly and contact an attorney to discuss your case and understand your options. If you do not have an attorney file a lawsuit within Oklahoma’s statute of limitations, you will forfeit your right to pursue compensation.
Contact an Experienced Oklahoma Car Accident Attorney Today
Hiring an attorney after an accident will protect your rights and help you get the positive outcome you seek. Get started as soon as possible so you do not lose out on vital evidence to support your claim and ensure you don’t miss critical deadlines that could prevent you from recovering compensation at all. Contact a car accident attorney today for your free consultation. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.