How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help if You’re Being Blamed for an Accident
If you’re being blamed for an accident, you might not think to call a personal injury lawyer. However, you might not be responsible for causing the accident.
The insurance claims adjuster might be attempting to shift the blame to you for the crash to avoid paying an insurance claim.
The police officer who investigated the car accident could have made a mistake when determining that your actions contributed to the cause of the crash.
The other drive may be lying about the cause of the accident to avoid liability.
If you are unsure whether you are responsible for the cause of the auto accident, consulting a personal injury lawyer is the best way to protect your best interests.
A lawyer explains your legal rights. More importantly, an experienced personal injury attorney can investigate the cause of the accident to determine whether you are at fault and liable for damages.
Oklahoma Car Insurance Requirements
Oklahoma is an at-fault state for car accidents. The person who caused the collision can be financially liable for the damages caused by the accident. Most people assume that their insurance coverage protects them when they cause an accident. That assumption could turn out to be very costly.
Oklahoma requires drivers to purchase a minimum amount of car insurance coverage. The required car insurance minimums for Oklahoma drivers are:
- $25,000 bodily injury coverage for injury to one person in an accident
- $50,000 bodily injury coverage for injury to two or more people in an accident
- $25,000 in property damage coverage
Your insurance provider is only liable for payment of injury claims up to the maximum coverage amount. Therefore, if you have the minimum coverage amount, your insurance provider is only required to pay accident claims up to $25,000 per person, with a $50,000 limit per accident.
Why Should You Be Worried About Being Blamed for Causing an Accident?
Many accident injuries can result in medical bills that exceed the minimum insurance coverage. For instance, the medical bills for a broken leg that requires surgery and physical therapy could quickly exceed $25,000. Other accident injuries may also require extensive medical treatment, including traumatic brain injuries, back injuries, and chest injuries.
If the medical bills exceed your insurance coverage, who is responsible for the medical bills? You are responsible if you caused the accident.
In addition to medical bills, accident victims are also entitled to compensation for other damages.
Damages in an accident case generally include:
- Cost of medical treatment and care
- Cost of personal care and in-home health care
- Loss of income and benefits
- Decreases in future earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress and trauma
- Scarring, disabilities, impairments, and disfigurements
- Loss of quality of or enjoyment of life
- Other out-of-pocket financial losses
If you caused the accident, you are financially liable for the damages and the victim’s injuries caused by the accident. The accident victim can file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for the full amount of damages. If the jury returns a verdict against you, the victim may pursue other legal remedies to collect the judgment.
Purchasing higher amounts of liability car insurance is one way to protect yourself and your assets. Individuals with a high-net-worth might want to consider umbrella policies that offer higher amounts of protection for liability for accidents.
What Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Do for Me if I Am Blamed for Causing an Accident?
Ways that an attorney can help you after a car accident include:
Conducting a Thorough Accident Investigation
A personal injury lawyer investigates the accident to determine how the accident occurred and who is responsible for causing the accident. The investigation is much more comprehensive than the police officer’s investigation who responded to the crash scene.
Some of the steps that an attorney may take when investigating a car accident include, but are not limited to:
- Take your statement to learn more about the accident
- Obtain and review copies of police reports and accident reports
- Interview the police officer and eyewitnesses
- Search for physical evidence at the crash scene
- Demand information from vehicle data recorders
- Search for videos of the crash made by traffic cameras or nearby surveillance cameras
- Consult with accident reconstructionists, engineers, and other experts
The circumstances of the crash might require the attorney to take additional steps to complete the investigation. An accident investigation can be time-consuming. Law firms have the time, resources, and skills to conduct the type of investigation necessary to determine whether you are to blame for the cause of the crash.
Exploring Allegations of Comparative Negligence
In some cases, more than one driver might be liable for the cause of the accident. Under Oklahoma Statute Ann. §23-13 (comparative fault law), a person who is 51 percent or more at fault for the cause of an accident cannot recover compensation for damages. Therefore, the other driver could be barred from recovering compensation if the driver is more at fault than you are for the accident.
If the other driver is less than 51 percent at fault, the driver can still recover some compensation for the cause of the accident. However, the compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the driver.
For example, if a jury finds that the other driver was 30 percent at fault, the most the driver can receive for damages is 70 percent of the claim’s total value. Allegations of comparative negligence could lower your financial liability for causing an accident.
Searching for Other Factors That Contributed to the Cause of the Crash
Your lawyer also searches for other factors that could have contributed to the cause of the accident. For instance, did a defective tire or hazardous road condition contribute to the cause of the crash? If so, another party might be partially liable for the accident victim’s damages.
By identifying all parties who are liable for the cause of the accident, you reduce your liability. Instead of paying the full amount of the claim, you might only pay a portion of the claim based on your percentage of fault.
Representing You in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If an injured party files a claim, your lawyer can represent you at trial. There could be one or more defenses to the lawsuit. Your lawyer assesses the evidence and prepares a defense strategy that gives you the best chance to win the personal injury case or avoid full liability for damages.
Being named in a lawsuit can be frightening and overwhelming. Having an attorney to provide support and legal advice can help reduce your stress, in addition to ensuring that your legal rights are protected throughout the process.
Helping You Recover Compensation for Accident Injuries
If you are not at fault for the cause of the crash or you are partially at fault, your personal injury lawyer can help you seek compensation for your damages. You could be entitled to money for your injuries, financial losses, and other damages, depending on the facts of your case.
The other driver’s insurance company is not going to tell you if you are entitled to compensation. An adjuster will not tell you the actual value of your claim. In addition to the above ways a personal injury lawyer helps you when you are blamed for causing an accident, your lawyer also protects you from bad faith insurance practices, like being pressured into a low or early settlement offer.
Contact Our Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If the insurance company or the other party blames you for causing an accident, contact our office for a free consultation with an Oklahoma personal injury lawyer. Our lawyers provide honest assessments of injury cases and legal advice regarding your options for seeking compensation for damages.