After an injury-causing crash that wasn’t your fault, your first instinct may be to sue the other driver to get money from their car insurance provider for your car repair and medical bills. After all, all drivers in Oklahoma are required by law to carry at least $25,000 of injury insurance, $25,000 of property damage insurance, and $50,000 of total accident insurance.
If you also have only minimum coverage, suing the other driver for compensation is often your only option for getting money for your medical bills and other accident-related expenses. But if you have additional or optional forms of coverage, it may be in your best interests to file a claim against your own auto insurance in addition to or in place of suing the other driver to get the money you need sooner.
You MUST Report a Crash to Your Insurer Regardless of Your Next Steps
Unsure of whether you’re going to file a claim against your own insurance or against the other driver? You still need to report the crash to your auto insurance provider!
All auto insurance companies require notification of crashes, even when their policyholders intend to only file claims against the drivers who hit them. Many auto insurers require near immediate notification—often within a matter of days—so report your crash as soon as you can to avoid problems later.
Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage Can Kick in If the Other Driver Isn’t Insured
Although Oklahoma requires drivers to carry minimum auto insurance coverage, not all drivers actually do. In fact, an Insurance Research Council study found that in 2019, around 13.4% of Oklahoma drivers were uninsured. If you get injured by an uninsured driver, you can still sue them for your damages, but getting meaningful compensation from them will be difficult and could take years or even decades to pay you in full, if you ever do get it.
Instead, most injured Oklahomans opt to file claims against their own auto insurance policies when in accidents with an uninsured driver, provided they have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This type of coverage isn’t required in Oklahoma, but given that more than one-in-10 drivers are uninsured, it’s a good idea to have it. It doesn’t add much to your monthly premium, and it can be a financial lifesaver if you’re involved in a crash with an uninsured driver.
This type of insurance can also help cover the gap between your damages and the maximum payout of the other driver’s policy. For example, if your total damages exceed $50,000, but the other driver only has minimum coverage of $50,000 per accident, your underinsured motorist coverage will kick in to cover the rest.
MedPay Coverage Can Pay for Your Medical Expenses with No Questions Asked
Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage is another type of optional coverage that can be added to your auto insurance policy that can help out after a crash. Not only does it help you pay for your medical bills following an auto accident (including if you’re hit while walking or biking), but it’s considered “no-fault” coverage.
That means that it can be used whether the other driver is 100% at fault, only partially at fault, or even 0% at fault. MedPay coverage is also exempt from subrogation (reimbursement) to your insurer. That means that if you have MedPay coverage and also receive a settlement from the at-fault party’s insurer, you’re free to keep the money you got from your MedPay insurance.
MedPay coverage can be as little as $5,000 or up to $25,000 and beyond, depending on your policy and insurer. The more coverage you have, the more peace of mind you’ll have after a crash, regardless of the other driver’s insurance coverage and financial situation.
Your Collision Coverage Can Help You Repair or Replace Your Vehicle
If you have optional collision coverage (which may be required if you financed your vehicle), you can use it to pay for your vehicle’s repairs or even a full replacement if it was totaled during the crash. This type of insurance is extremely helpful after crashes because it can get you back on the road right away.
If you rely solely on the other driver’s property damage coverage, you may be waiting weeks or months for your claim with them and their insurer to settle or even go to trial. While you’re waiting, you may be unable to afford to repair or replace your vehicle.
Our Lawyers Can Help You Make the Right Decisions After a Crash
Dealing with one insurance company can be difficult enough. Dealing with two—even when one is your own—can be a big headache. It can be difficult to know if and when it’s a good idea to file a claim against your own insurance or to only pursue compensation from the at-fault driver and their insurance.
At Parrish DeVaughn, our Oklahoma car accident lawyers can review your crash, determine your level of fault, analyze both your insurance policy and the policy of the at-fault driver, and help you make the right decision for getting maximum compensation with minimal drawbacks.
Contact us after a crash that wasn’t your fault to get a free, no-obligation consultation. We have decades of experience helping injured victims get the money they’re owed after accidents, and now we want to help you, too.