Getting into a car accident in Oklahoma City without insurance isn’t ideal, but it’s also not necessarily the end of the world. If you have suffered an injury, you may have the right to receive compensation from the other driver or whoever is ultimately found liable for the crash. Conversely, if you’re at fault, you may be able to avoid significant liability. This article will provide an overview of the laws and practical considerations related to getting into a car accident without insurance. Also, we’ll explain how an Oklahoma City car accident lawyer can help you protect your rights.
Let’s start with the basics. In Oklahoma, the party found to be at fault for causing a car accident bears liability for whatever damage they have caused. All Oklahoma drivers must carry auto insurance to cover that potential liability, should they ever need to use it. In legal jargon, that makes Oklahoma what is known as an “at-fault” state, in contrast with so-called “no-fault” states where drivers must carry insurance to cover their own injuries in an accident regardless of who was at fault.
Because Oklahoma is an at-fault state, victims of an Oklahoma City crash can seek compensation for their losses from anyone whose careless, reckless, or intentional actions caused the accident. Through a lawsuit or a claim submitted to the at-fault party’s liability insurer, victims can typically pursue compensation for their:
- Medical care, vehicle repair, and other accident-related expenses.
- Past and future losses of income and job benefits (if their injuries prevent them from working).
- Physical pain and emotional distress.
- Diminished quality of life.
- Scarring, disfigurement, or loss of bodily function.
But What if You Don’t Carry Auto Insurance?
As the victim of a crash in Oklahoma City, you can seek compensation through a lawsuit or insurance claim, even if you do not carry auto insurance. The at-fault party is liable for harming you regardless of your insurance status. Oklahoma law used to limit the damages you could recover if you were hurt in an accident while driving uninsured, but the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down that so-called “no pay, no play” statute as unconstitutional in 2014. An experienced car accident lawyer in Oklahoma City can handle your claim and seek the maximum compensation available.
In many Oklahoma City car accidents, a driver bears fault for the crash and their auto liability insurance should cover the victim’s losses. But drivers aren’t the only parties who might owe damages for the harm caused by the accident. Other liable parties could include:
- The employer of a driver who crashed a work vehicle.
- A bar or restaurant that served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated or underage drunk driver.
- The manufacturer of a defective vehicle.
- A government entity or private landowner responsible for dangerous road conditions.
Determining who was at fault in an Oklahoma City car accident case could require a detailed investigation. An experienced car accident lawyer can review the evidence, which may include police accident reports, victim and eyewitness statements, damaged vehicles, and photos or videos of the accident scene, to pinpoint the cause of the wreck and the parties responsible.
As a crash victim, a car accident lawyer can evaluate your options for seeking compensation. One option could involve filing an insurance claim under the at-fault party’s liability policy. A lawyer can prepare your claim and deal with the insurance company on your behalf, maximizing your chances of full compensation.
Another option could involve suing the at-fault driver or someone else who may be liable for the crash. Filing a lawsuit doesn’t necessarily mean your case will go to trial. Most Oklahoma City car accident cases settle long before they reach a courtroom. Still, it pays to retain an Oklahoma City car accident lawyer who knows how to win, both in and out of court. Often, simply hiring a lawyer with a sterling reputation and track record of getting results can motivate an at-fault party or liable insurer to come to the table and negotiate a fair settlement.
While it may be true that you can seek compensation through a lawsuit or insurance claim to cover your losses—even if you don’t have insurance, that doesn’t mean you don’t have some legal responsibility in the matter. Driving without insurance in Oklahoma City is risky and can expose you to unpleasant legal consequences. It’s a misdemeanor to drive uninsured in Oklahoma, and a conviction is punishable by a $250 fine, up to 30 days in jail, and suspension of your driving privileges. Plus, a police officer could seize your vehicle or your license plate, subjecting you to additional fees and inconvenience to get them back.
In addition, without insurance to cover your liability, you could be required to pay a crash victim’s damages out of your own pocket if you cause an accident. However, that’s not guaranteed. If the crash victim carries uninsured motorist coverage, (insurance that covers the damages a liability insurance company would pay if you carried it) you could avoid a claim. But you could still be on the hook for any losses the victim’s insurance doesn’t cover. And the victim’s insurer could still choose to pursue you for reimbursement of the damages it paid out on the claim.
If you were in an accident in Oklahoma City and didn’t have insurance, the attorneys at Parrish DeVaughn can help you explore and protect your rights. There is no charge for your initial consultation and no legal fees unless we recover money on your behalf. Contact us to learn more.