Driving Without a Net
Oklahoma has one of the highest percentages of uninsured drivers in the United States. Although licensed drivers are obligated by statute to carry liability insurance, nearly every fourth driver disobeys the law. Some drivers just carry the bare minimum of required coverage. If you are injured by a “hit and run” driver, you might never know who the driver is, let alone his or her insurer.
A recent change in the law attempts to tackle this problem. Effective before the end of 2013, Oklahoma police officers are authorized to remove the license tags of uninsured vehicles, only returning them after their owners pay fines and purchase liability insurance. The law is modeled on other states' legislation that has successfully reduced the number of uninsured drivers on their roadways.
Even if the law works to maximum effect, it might only reduce — not eliminate — the problem. In this tough economy, financially strapped drivers may still reduce or ditch their coverage, or fail to reinstate lapsed insurance, despite the threat of additional penalties. Even if you successfully obtain a judgment against an uninsured driver (UM), it is unlikely that the UM has many assets. However, you can actively protect yourself against an uninsured or underinsured motorist by purchasing uninsured motorist coverage (UMC). UMC offers compensation in circumstances where a negligent driver’s coverage cannot recompense you adequately.
If you buy liability insurance because the law obligates you to, it is worth adding UMC — even if you pay a little bit more. While it is not compulsory for you to purchase UMC, it is obligatory for your insurance company to make the option available to you. Considering the average medical costs in an accident, paying the extra insurance costs bears your serious consideration. The UMC is personal to you, not your vehicle. If you are injured by a UM while you are jogging or bicycling, the insurance would still cover your damages.
In the great majority of auto injury cases, the negligent party’s insurance company settles. However, if in the course of litigation you find that the other party’s coverage is inadequate to cover your losses, including medical costs and lost wages, your attorney can then make a UM claim, after informing your insurer.
Speak to our attorneys highly experienced in Oklahoma accident insurance law. Contact The Barkett Law Firm in Tulsa for a free consultation.