• Kyle Persaud

If I'm in a Car Accident in Oklahoma, Can I Sue?

Updated: May 6

If you or your property have been injured in a car accident, you may be wondering: Can I sue after a car accident in Oklahoma? The short answer is: Yes, you have the right to recover money if the accident was the other driver’s fault. You may need to file a lawsuit; however, many auto accident claims are resolved without a lawsuit. Here’s what to do:


  1. Contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company and file a claim.

  2. If the insurance company makes you an offer that is too low or denies that the accident was the other driver’s fault, or sits on your claim and doesn’t do anything, contact a motor vehicle lawyer.

  3. Your lawyer and the insurance company will likely continue attempting to work out a settlement outside of court.

  4. If your case does not settle out of court, then, your case will go to trial. At trial, a judge, or jury, will decide whether the other driver was at fault, and how much either party should have to pay.


These steps will be explained in more detail, below.


1. Contact the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company


The first step is to contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company and file a claim with the insurance company. All Oklahoma drivers, when operating a motor vehicle on an Oklahoma roadway, must carry liability insurance.


A motor vehicle insurance policy has what is called a policy limit. A policy limit is the maximum amount that an insurance company will pay as compensation for one accident. For example, if an insurance policy has a policy limit of $25,000, then, the insurance company will pay no more than $25,000 for a claim arising out of one accident.


Oklahoma law requires that any motor vehicle liability policy, issued in Oklahoma, must have a policy limit of:


  • At least $25,000 because of bodily injury or death of one person in one accident

  • At least $50,000 because of bodily injury or death to two or more persons in one accident

  • At least $25,000 because of the destruction of property of others in any one accident

Click here, and here to see the state laws requiring these policy limits.


2. The Insurance Company May Offer You a Payment


After you file a claim with the insurance company, the insurance company may make you an offer to pay you a certain amount of money. The amount of money that the insurance company offers to pay you will not be greater than the driver’s insurance policy limit. Thus, if the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limit is the same as the minimum that Oklahoma law requires, then, the insurance company’s offer will not be greater than $25,000 for bodily injury to one person, $50,000 for bodily injury to more than one person, or $25,000 for injury to property. If the at-fault driver’s insurance policy has a limit greater than the minimum that Oklahoma law requires, then the insurance company may offer you more than the legally required policy limits. If your claim is worth more than the driver’s policy limit, you may be able to collect from your own insurer if you have uninsured motorist coverage (see below.)


However, the driver’s insurer may not offer to pay you any money at all. The insurer may deny that the accident was the driver’s fault. Or, the insurance company may “sit on” your claim and not do anything.


3. Contact a Lawyer


If the insurance company makes you an offer that is too low or denies that the accident was the other driver’s fault, or sits on your claim and doesn’t do anything, then it’s probably time to get a lawyer.


Click here to schedule a free consultation with Persaud Law Office.


Your lawyer may at first try to contact the insurance company and settle the matter out of court. In some cases, a lawyer may be able to obtain a more favorable offer than a private person can. However, if your lawyer settles the matter with your insurance company out of court, the insurance company still will not pay you more than the policy limit. If your claim is worth more than the policy limit, you may be able to collect from your own insurer if you have uninsured motorist coverage (see below.) If your lawyer obtains a settlement, the lawyer, generally, will keep part of the settlement as his fee, and you will receive the rest. The percentage that the lawyer keeps varies with each lawyer, but many lawyers keep one-third of the settlement.


If your lawyer isn’t able to settle the matter with the insurance company out of court (or if your lawyer doesn’t want to attempt to settle out of court) then, your lawyer may sue the at-fault driver. If your lawyer sues the driver, then the driver’s insurance company, will usually retain a lawyer to represent the driver.


Possible Outcomes and Other Factors


Out-of-Court Settlement


Even after a lawsuit is filed, your lawyer and the insurance company will likely continue attempting to work out a settlement. Most civil cases settle out of court before trial. A study performed at Cornell Law School found that, on average, 66.9% of civil cases settled out of court. However, if your case does settle out of court, then, the insurance company will not pay you more than the driver’s policy limit. Also, your lawyer will likely keep a percentage of the settlement, as his fee.


Trial and Verdict


If your case does not settle out of court, then, your case will go to trial. At trial, a judge, or jury, will decide whether 1) the other driver was at fault, and 2) if the driver was at fault, how much he should have to pay you.


If the judge or jury orders the other driver to pay you, then, the driver’s insurance company will pay you. However, the insurance company will only pay you up to the policy limit. If the judge or jury orders the driver to pay you more than the insurance policy limit, then the insurance company will pay you the policy limit, and you will have to collect the remaining amount from the other driver. If the other driver does not have the money to pay, then the driver will be “judgment-proof” and you will not be able to collect. But, if the amount ordered in court is worth more than the policy limit, you may be able to collect from your own insurer if you have uninsured motorist coverage (see below.)


If you recover any money at trial, then, typically, your lawyer will keep a percentage of the amount recovered as his fee, and you will keep the rest.


Paying off liens


If a health care provider has provided care to you as a result of the accident, then, the health care provider may have filed a lien against you. If the provider files a lien against you, the provider must send you notice of the lien, by registered or certified mail.


If a provider has filed a lien against you, then, if you recover any amount from the at-fault driver or his insurer, you will have to use part of the money you recover, to pay off the lien. This is true, whether you recover the money by settlement, or at trial.


What if the other driver has no insurance? Or what if you are injured in a hit-and-run accident?


This is where uninsured motorist coverage (UM) comes into play. Oklahoma law requires that all automobile insurance policies, issued in Oklahoma, offer UM coverage. However, the law does not require you to actually purchase UM coverage. If you have UM coverage, then your policy’s UM coverage may compensate you if:


  • You are injured in an accident, and the at-fault driver had no insurance, or

  • You are injured in a hit-and-run accident, or

  • You are injured in an accident, and the at-fault driver had insurance, but the at-fault driver’s insurance company is in debt and does not have the money to pay you, or

  • You are injured in an accident, and the amount of your claim is greater than the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limit.


If your insurer pays you a claim under your UM coverage, then, your insurance company will be allowed to sue the uninsured or underinsured driver.


An automobile accident is emotionally taxing, as well as physically and financially devastating. Dealing with an insurance company after an accident adds even more emotional stress. If you are going through the aftermath of an auto accident, you may need a local attorney in Oklahoma to assist you.


NOTE: This post only scratches the surface of Oklahoma auto accident liability law. The law relating to motor vehicle accidents is very extensive and complicated and cannot be summarized in a post of this length. If, after reading this post, you are still unsure as to what you can do, consult a qualified Oklahoma car accident lawyer.

NOTE: The information provided on this website is not intended to be, and does not constitute, the giving of legal advice. The information provided here is not intended to be, and should not be used as, a substitute for individual reliance on privately retained legal counsel. Information provided on this site may not constitute the most current or complete information with respect to legal topics or developments. Mr. Persaud expressly disclaims all liability based on any information contained on this site.”

© 2020, by Kyle Persaud.