Do I Need an Oklahoma City Attorney if I’m Not the At-Fault Driver?
Knowing when to hire — or at least consult with — an attorney is a true secret weapon when it comes to protecting one’s rights. Traffic accidents of all sorts happen frequently and without warning. Even when no party is technically at fault, just the simple act of needing to file a claim with your insurance company can be a good reason to speak to a legal professional. When someone’s negligence did cause the accident, and especially if that accident caused severe injuries, working with a personal injury attorney is all the more pertinent if you want the maximum compensation you deserve.
No matter how clear-cut or one-sided a car accident may seem, proving that is never a given. Defense attorneys and insurance companies alike are professionals at shifting blame and poking holes in cases, and a long list of factors can go into determining fault. When you work with your own personal injury attorney, they can use their experience and know-how to prevent any liable parties from taking advantage of you and your injuries.
How does fault factor into Oklahoma car accident cases?
Both health and auto insurance are important and helpful tools if you are injured in any sort of accident or collision, but when your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence, you may need to do more than simply file a claim. With the help of a personal injury attorney and the civil justice system, victims can pursue compensation from the liable party or entity for coverage of any and all damages that insurance leaves behind (or wrongly refuses to touch). The key is proving as much fault as possible lies with the other driver(s) involved — something that can be much more complicated than expected.
Oklahoma uses a modified comparative negligence model to determine how much in damages a victim is entitled to after a car accident. The percentage at which a victim is found at fault is the percentage by which their possible damages are reduced. So, if you are found 40% responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, the amount of damages you would normally be owed would be reduced by 40%. Those found at least 51% at fault cannot collect damages at all.
Not only can being found at fault affect your compensation, it can also lead to increased insurance premiums and other expensive collateral. The more the other side avoids paying, the more you have to pay out of pocket. Not only that, but the minimum amount of car insurance required in Oklahoma is often not enough to cover the costs of an accident, meaning the other side may not be capable of paying without legal intervention.
Since profits are the primary motivator behind insurance companies and the defendant is looking out for their own finances, the two work together with their own legal teams purely to try to avoid a payout. They do not care how injured you are or how desperate your financial situation may be. That is why you must take proactive steps to protect yourself.
Why victims of any car accident need an Oklahoma City personal injury attorney
Car accidents and their ensuing litigation are not only traumatic, painful, expensive events; they’re also extremely complicated. With every party trying to avoid blame, on top of coping with physical injuries and other personal losses, no victim should be trying to navigate them alone. However, there are still certain steps one can and should take to help protect their case. Remember, even if you know you are absolutely not at fault for your car accident, you still have to be able to prove it. This should be the last thing you have to worry about after being seriously injured due to someone else’s negligence, but your attorney will need some basis to build your case on. Aside from being careful not to admit fault, agree to any settlements, and making sure to stay off social media, victims can play an essential role in proving their case:
- After you seek medical attention, and as much as you are able in your physical state, try to gather as much information as possible.
- Take notes of people’s names, vehicles, witnesses, the location of the crash — anything you can.
- Make sure you call the police, as they will take a detailed report of the accident your attorney can use later on. While it is not the only evidence used to prove fault, it is a main component.
- You will also want to keep any and all documents from any medical professionals you see, including pictures of your injuries where possible.
- Victims should consult with their personal injury attorneys before trying to file any claims with their insurance, as this can mitigate bad faith practices and decision-making before they happen while also making sure nothing is overlooked.
From personally reviewing your claims to actually filing lawsuits against liable insurance companies refusing to pay, you will essentially have a legal safety net every step of the complicated way. It is unfortunate that the entities we are required to rely on for these situations are allowed to put their own finances first (and want to at all), but there are still legal protections they must respect. For example, they cannot raise your rates for filing a claim with your collision coverage if you did not cause the accident. If they try to, your attorney can help you hold them accountable.
Regardless of whether you are filing a claim with your own insurance or against a negligent driver’s, working to prove the other driver’s fault to secure compensation for your injuries, or simply unsure of how to proceed after an accident, hiring a personal injury attorney can only help. In Oklahoma City, the experienced and tenacious personal injury attorneys at Cunningham & Mears take injured clients on contingency so they never have to choose between affording recovery and seeking justice. When your savings and livelihood are threatened due to the negligence of someone else, fight back with trustworthy representation that really does put you first. To schedule a free consultation, call us today or use our contact form.
Ryan Y. Cunningham is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Cunningham devotes his practice to protecting the rights of injured Oklahoma residents. In addition to assisting injured clients, Mr. Cunningham endeavors to improve personal injury representation by speaking on issues related to personal injury law to attorneys in continuing legal education courses and to law students. Learn More