Car Accident Frequently Asked Questions
If you've been hurt in a car accident in or around Oklahoma City, here's what you need to know.
No matter how quickly a car crash happens, the process of dealing with the consequences can stretch on for weeks, months or even years. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we often hear about car wrecks in Oklahoma City. Find information here, but don't hesitate to call us for free legal advice if you have a question or want to know if you have a case. You need one of our attorneys to fully protect your rights.
- If I'm involved in an accident, what should I do at the scene?
- Should I go to a doctor right away?
- How can your attorneys help me prove the other driver was at fault?
- What if my accident was due to a mechanical issue, like faulty brakes or engine failure?
- If the other driver is at fault, what compensation can I get?
- What information should I share with the at-fault driver's insurance company?
- Should I accept payment from the at-fault driver or at-fault driver's insurance company?
- The other driver doesn't have insurance. What can I do?
- I made some statements right after the accident that I now remember differently. Can I still win my case?
Remember, do not leave, or you could be criminally prosecuted for leaving the scene of an accident. Your first priority is to make sure the scene is safe. If possible, move your vehicle so it is not blocking traffic, turn on your hazard lights, and raise the hood or trunk to increase visibility. If someone has been injured in the accident, call an ambulance immediately. You will also need to call the police so that they can prepare a report on your accident.
Collect any information that might be relevant to your liability claim as soon as possible. That means you'll need the names, phone numbers and contact information for everyone involved in the accident, including any witnesses. Also make sure to get the name of the insurance company and policy number for the other driver or drivers involved.
Take pictures of vehicle damage, skid marks, road conditions and anything else relevant to the accident scene, as well as any visible injuries. The more time passes, the harder it becomes to accurately document the accident scene and use that information to bolster your case.
Finally, do not admit responsibility for the accident to anyone. Liability for a car accident is a complex legal matter that needs to be reserved for a later time. Verbally accepting blame for the accident now could become evidence to be used against you at trial. The best practice is to direct anyone seeking comment on the accident to us. Talk to Lawter & Associates now and we'll help you with your next step.
Yes. Even if you feel fine, don't assume that you're not injured. Often, many injuries caused by car accidents aren't apparent. This is especially true with many internal injuries, which could be life threatening. It's also important to realize that the longer you wait to seek medical attention, the harder it might be to get the compensation you deserve for your accident. Insurance companies often look for any excuse to deny a claim. And if you wait to see a doctor, the insurance companies might insist that your injury had nothing to do with your car accident. So don't try to diagnose yourself. See a medical professional as soon as possible and get a competent attorney on your side to fend off those arguments from the insurance.
As a rule, most accidents are caused by human error on the part of a driver. Each type of negligence comes with certain telltale signs, and one of our attorneys' investigation can turn up evidence demonstrating that negligence. For instance:
- Distracted Driving: Texting and driving is legal in Oklahoma, which means there are plenty of distracted drivers on the road. Other common sources of distraction include eating, adjusting the radio and looking at a GPS screen. It's quite common for distracted drivers to cause rear-end collisions because they can't pay attention to the vehicles in front of them. Eyewitness reports and the driver's own account may also confirm that the driver was distracted.
- Drunk Driving: A known hazard for many years, drinking and driving remains a major cause of auto accidents. In addition to failing sobriety tests administered at the scene, drunk drivers often change speeds erratically or weave in and out of traffic, which witnesses will be able to confirm. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to pursue a liability claim against the supplier of the alcohol in addition to the drunk driver.
- Fatigued Drivers: Studies show that driving while very tired is just as dangerous as driving drunk, yet many drivers don't think twice about getting behind the wheel when they're exhausted. Asleep-at-the-wheel drivers usually don't slow down before impact, which means there are no skid marks. Also, the other driver's statements may indicate that he or she doesn't remember the accident at all.
The circumstances surrounding your accident will affect your right to compensation as well as the liability of the other parties involved. To navigate those legal circumstances, you'll need an attorney's help. Wondering what to do? Why not talk to us at Lawter & Associates. We have years of experience helping the injured obtain compensation for their losses.
Not every accident is caused by a driver. Sometimes steering issues, engine failure, faulty brakes or other mechanical problems can lead to collisions. These cases can be especially legally complex, with fault variously resting on the owner of the vehicle, the manufacturer, or even a mechanic who previously did work on the car. We'll thoroughly investigate all of the circumstances surrounding the accident and find out where you have the best claim.
The specific compensation depends on the accident, but in general, you may be entitled to compensation from the negligent driver for medical costs associated with the accident, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and the cost of alternate transportation if your car needs to be repaired. Compensation also may include costs directly resulting from the accident, such as towing and storage.
Many drivers end up collecting significantly smaller settlements than they should because they do not understand how many costs can be included in their compensation. Insurance companies may try to take advantage of you by offering "lowball" settlements soon after the accident, before you go to an attorney who will fight for everything you're owed.
Any information taken by the other driver's insurance company is going to be used to protect the other driver, not you. Be especially cautious when giving the other insurance company a medical authorization, as a blanket authorization allows the company to obtain records unrelated to the accident and use them against you in negotiations. Again, the best course of action is to tell the other driver's insurance company to talk us. We can be your advocate. If Lawter & Associates represents you, we will talk to the insurance company on your behalf.
Remember, insurance claims adjusters are always looking for ways to settle claims at the lowest possible cost. Accepting a payment from an insurance company might be construed as a settlement barring any further reimbursement from the at-fault driver or his or her insurance. As such, we recommend not accepting any payment until you have completed any medical treatment and know the full cost of your medical bills and other damages.
While insurance is mandatory in Oklahoma and nationwide, some drivers do illegally drive without it, putting themselves and others at risk. In fact, Oklahoma has a higher rate of uninsured motorists than any other state, with an estimated 25 percent of drivers going without insurance. That means that if you are involved in an accident, there is an excellent chance it will be with an uninsured driver.
Collecting compensation becomes especially difficult when the at-fault driver has no insurance, or insufficient insurance to cover all of an injured party's damages. Oklahoma law requires all drivers to have 25/50/25 coverage; that is $25,000 for injury or death of one person, $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people and $25,000 for property damage. Many accidents cause damage that exceeds this level of coverage.
In principle, you should be able to recover damages from the other driver's assets if he or she has insufficient insurance or no insurance at all. In practice, you can only recover if the at-fault party has assets to recover.
If your own policy has uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may be entitled to reimbursement from your own insurance. In some cases, the at-fault driver may be covered by someone else's insurance, such as a parent, spouse or employer. However, legal cases involving uninsured or underinsured motorists are complex, and settling with one insurance company could affect another company's responsibility. That's why you need to hire an attorney with extensive experience handling uninsured and underinsured motorist cases. We have an in-depth knowledge of Oklahoma's laws and know exactly how to handle these cases. One of our attorneys can be your attorney!
Given that a car accident often is a traumatic experience, it's actually quite common for people to make statements in the immediate aftermath that they later realize were inaccurate. Our experienced attorneys know how to handle those conflicting statements and build a strong case. It's still entirely possible to win with the right representation.
The above information is intended to be an overview of some of the legal circumstances surrounding car accidents in Oklahoma City. For more information on your specific case, call our Oklahoma City office at (866) 584-1027.