Figuring out how much compensation you deserve for an Oklahoma car accident can prove difficult. How can you place a value on pain and suffering in a car accident settlement? And who actually calculates the award of your settlement? While you’re recovering from the incident, you likely need more information about how to effectively estimate your car accident settlement so that you can determine whether the insurance company has issued an offer you can reasonably accept.
You’ve come to the right place.
Who Calculates Car Accident Settlements in Oklahoma?
Generally, two parties will calculate the value of an Oklahoma car accident settlement: the insurance company that covers the driver who caused the accident and you (with input from your personal injury attorney).
You and the insurance adjuster may take very different looks at the compensation you deserve for your car accident injuries.
The Insurance Company
The insurance company that covers the liable driver will start by taking a look at the losses you experienced because of the accident, most notably, the damage to your vehicle and your immediate medical costs. Many insurance companies use computer/AI systems to calculate the value of a car accident claim.
Frequently, the initial settlement offer issued by the claims adjuster will include reasonable compensation for damages to your vehicle, usually based on an estimate provided by a certified repair shop, but may include only a percentage of the medical bills you have faced because of the accident. Having an experienced car accident attorney look over that offer can provide you with a great deal more information about the compensation you may really deserve and how to pursue it.
When your car accident attorney calculates the total compensation you deserve from the wreck, it will often include a much more human, in-depth look at your actual losses related to the car accident. Like the liable driver’s insurance company, your attorney will take into consideration the damage to your vehicle and estimated repair costs. Your attorney’s estimate of the compensation you deserve for car accident injuries will also include a number of other critical factors such as your injuries and the type and length of medical treatment you received
Breaking Down Your Medical Bills
After many types of car accident injuries, you may find yourself contending with extensive medical costs. Ambulance transport away from the scene of the accident may serve as just the start of a much longer list of medical bills: hospitalization, surgical costs, durable medical equipment, therapy, and a host of others.
Your attorney will take a look at all of your medical costs related to your car accident injuries and give you a better idea of what to include. Your lawyer may take into consideration whether you carry Medical Payment Coverage (MedPay) insurance—optional coverage that will help pay for the cost of medical bills (up to the amount of coverage you purchased) following a car accident in Oklahoma. If you carry MedPay insurance, you can still include the cost of treatment covered by your MedPay insurance as part of your claim. You paid for this insurance coverage, not the driver that hit you.
Calculating Wage Loss
After a serious car accident, you may find that you have to miss considerable time at work while you pursue treatment and recover from your injuries. Some injuries may outright prevent you from taking care of your job duties. Others may require a great deal of your time and energy, or work-related restrictions from your doctor, leaving you without much-needed time to spend on work tasks. If you have lost wages due to your car wreck,, talk to your lawyer about how to include those lost wages as part of your claim. Note any time you’ve missed from work, including vacation time.
Taking Pain and Suffering Into Account
As part of your Oklahoma car accident claim, you can also include compensation for the pain and suffering you had to deal with after your accident. You may have faced considerable physical pain, ongoing emotional trauma, or suffering in the form of activities you missed out on or could not engage in during your recovery.
Adding Economic and Non-economic Losses Together
Pain and suffering is considered one of many possible types of “non-economic damages” in a personal injury case. Non-economic damages can be calculated one of two ways:
- Based on a percentage of your total economic losses (which include medical bills, lost wages, vehicle repair costs, etc.): For non-economic compensation, you can expect to be awarded anywhere between 5% to 500+% of your economic damages, depending on how serious your injuries are (plus the type and length of treatment).
– The percentage range looks a little ridiculous, but someone that gets in a wreck, and doesn’t think that they’re injured, but wants to make sure everything is okay, may get evaluated at the emergency room.
– Depending on the ER doctor, CT scans or X-rays could be performed, and the hospital may quickly rack up medical bills close to $10,000.
– Compare this to someone that breaks their collar bone (generally requires rest, but not physical therapy unless surgery is required), and has the same exact scans done as the first person. — – Plus, it happens to be at the same hospital, and the medical bills end up being the same amount.
– The insurance company (and a jury, if the case can’t get settled) should value the plaintiff’s claim with the fractured collar bone higher compared to the plaintiff’s case without the fracture.
- Based on a “per diem” rate: A specific compensatory amount is assigned to each day it takes you to reach the maximum possible recovery for your car accident injuries, typically similar to the amount of money you would earn as income had you not been injured. Insurance companies tend to ignore this calculation as the calculation can be higher versus an arbitrary dollar amount. If the adjuster values the pain and suffering of the plaintiff at $50/day, and the plaintiff is treated for 6 months, that aspect of the claim would be valued at $9,000.
After calculating your non-economic damages, your economic losses and non-economic damages are added together in order to estimate your total car accident settlement. The insurance company is likely to give you a far lower offer than what you had in mind or what your personal injury attorney has estimated has a fair settlement amount.
Contributory Negligence in Oklahoma
Oklahoma car accident law follows the comparative negligence doctrine: if you contributed to the accident in some way, it will reduce the compensation you recover for your injuries by the percentage of fault you bear.
For example, if the jury decides that you contributed 10% to the accident (and 90% to the defendant), the judge will reduce the verdict by 10%.
If you contributed more than 50% to the accident, you will not be able to recover compensation for your injuries. Instead of giving a percentage, our Oklahoma statutes state “is of greater degree than the combined negligence of…” So, anything over 50%.
If the jury decides to award you $100,000 but decides that you were 51% at fault, and the defendant was 49% at fault, the judge is then required by law to reduce the verdict to you to zero.
Contact an Attorney to Calculate Compensation for Your Oklahoma Car Accident
If you suffered injuries in a car accident in Oklahoma, an attorney can help you calculate your car accident settlement and give you a better idea of how much your claim is worth. More importantly, they can protect you from being taken advantage of by insurance companies that are only concerned with minimizing the amount of money paid out. Contact an Oklahoma car accident lawyer to learn more during a free consultation.