How Are Damages Assessed for an Automobile Accident Claim?

How Are Damages Assessed for an Automobile Accident Claim?

If you have been injured in a car accident and are pursuing compensation from the at-fault driver, it is natural to wonder what your case may be worth. While each case is different, you should not suffer monetary loss from an accident caused by another motorist, according to Oklahoma law.

At Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons, we fight aggressively for full and fair compensation for our clients who have been injured in car accidents in Oklahoma. We start by fully assessing our clients’ present and future losses related to the accident and identifying all liable parties. Then, we demand from the insurers compensation that fully reflects our client’s losses. When insurance companies refuse to do what is fair, we are prepared to seek justice for our clients in Oklahoma courts.

Our track record shows what we can do for you if you have been unjustly injured.

Compensable Losses in an Oklahoma Car Accident

The objective of a personal injury claim after a car accident is to make a person who has been unjustly injured financially whole.

The amount of compensation available in most cases is limited to the amount provided by the defendant’s insurance coverage. In a few cases, a defendant may have other assets a claim may attach, but such defendants are also likely to be adequately insured.

Under Oklahoma law, an injured person may seek compensation for economic and noneconomic losses through a legal claim.

Economic losses include:

  • Medical expenses, or all costs of present and future medical treatment, rehabilitation services, or other care, treatment, services, products or accommodations required because of your injury. We assess these costs by documenting all payments made and projecting future costs based on your expected recovery or disability.
  • Lost income, or payment for all wages, salaries or other compensation lost as a result of a bodily injury. This includes lost pay during your recovery and projected losses if the lasting consequences of an injury are lost earning capacity or diminished employment opportunities. A proper calculation includes actual wages plus unrealized raises, the value of fringe benefits, and any potential bonuses and commissions that you could reasonably have expected had your injury not occurred.
  • Property damage, such as the cost of repairing or replacing a vehicle after an accident, or damage to other personal property in the car accident. The insurance company will direct you to obtain estimates for damage repair or declare your vehicle totaled and suggest a replacement value. Other property value may be assessed through receipts, market averages or appraisals.

Noneconomic damages include payment for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of:
    • Society
    • Consortium
    • Companionship
    • Care
    • Assistance
    • Attention
    • Protection
    • Advice
    • Guidance
    • Counsel
    • Instruction
    • Training
    • Education.
  • Any other intangible loss, and
  • Reckless disregard of another’s rights, which means willful and wanton conduct demonstrating that the defendant was either aware, or did not care, that there was a substantial and unnecessary risk that his or her conduct would cause serious injury to others. In a car accident, this may apply to a drunk driving accident in which the driver had a very high blood-alcohol concentration (BAC), or to a driver who was speeding excessively or racing another vehicle.

Because noneconomic damages are intangible, they are often based on a multiplier applied to the amount of economic damages awarded. Your attorney would make an argument for the award of noneconomic damages based on the seriousness of your injuries and after learning from you and your family how your injuries have adversely affected your ability to fully enjoy life.

In Oklahoma, there is no limit on the amount of economic damages that may be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit. Noneconomic damages in Oklahoma are capped at $350,000 unless a judge and jury finds that the defendant’s acts or failure to act were:

  • In reckless disregard for the rights of others
  • Grossly negligent
  • Fraudulent, or
  • Intentional or with malice.

Determining Who Should Compensate You in a Car Accident

As your car accident attorneys, we would use a variety of techniques to determine how your car accident occurred. To proceed with a claim after a car accident, we would have to determine and be able to demonstrate that:

  • The car accident was the cause of your injuries and losses
  • Some other party who had a legal “duty of care” to you caused or contributed to the car accident, and
  • Your losses are compensable.

Most car accidents are caused by human error. Typically, in a two-vehicle accident, one driver is found to be at fault. Sometimes drivers share fault. And sometimes one or more additional defendants not directly involved in the crash bear some responsibility for a car accident. The latter may result in a third-party claim against a defendant, such as:

  • The bar, restaurant or party host that sold or served alcohol to an underage or already intoxicated driver responsible for a drunk driving accident.
  • The employer of an at-fault driver who was behind the wheel as part of his or her job duties, particularly a commercial driver with a poor driving history.
  • The manufacturer and/or distributor of a faulty part or operating system that caused a car accident.
  • The local government or its contractors responsible for an unsafe roadway design, lack of adequate road maintenance or faulty traffic signals that contributed to a car crash.

A thorough investigation by Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons will seek to identify every party with legal responsibility for a car accident. This may lead to multiple claims and multiple sources of compensation, such as:

  • Auto insurance. Oklahoma drivers are required to maintain auto liability insurance worth a minimum of $25,000 for bodily injury to each individual, $50,000 total liability for injury or death to multiple people in an accident and $25,000 for property damage. Most drivers have the minimum required amounts of coverage. Despite the requirement that vehicle owners have liability insurance, some motorists do not have insurance coverage. You may have Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage or other auto insurance to cover your losses in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist.
  • Business insurance. Personal auto liability insurance policies often do not pay for an accident that happens while a driver is acting in a work capacity. A business should have either Hired and Non-Owned Auto Insurance coverage for accidents in vehicles not owned by the business but used for business purposes or Commercial Auto Insurance for accidents in cars owned by the business.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance. If you were injured in a car accident while driving as part of your job duties, you should receive workers’ compensation benefits. Most employees injured on the job are covered. Workers’ compensation pays for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages.

A car accident claim initially results in negotiations with one or more insurance companies for a proper settlement. In most cases, through aggressive negotiations, a Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons attorney can negotiate a fair settlement for our clients. In some cases, we must take a claim to court, where we present a persuasive case to judge and jury.

Contact and Oklahoma Car Accident Attorney

Don’t try to handle a personal injury claim on your own after a car wreck. Insurance adjusters are motivated to protect their employers’ bottom lines by paying as little as possible for claims. Let our experienced Oklahoma City auto accident lawyers stand up for your rights and make sure you receive all the compensation the law allows you to recover for your injuries and losses. Contact us today.