What Happens if You Get into a Car Accident with No Insurance?

No one enjoys going through the hassle of getting insured, but the consequences of driving without insurance – which happens to be illegal – might make you think twice.  This article will explain Oklahoma’s minimum requirements for automotive insurance and cover the penalties uninsured drivers face.  If you’re ever in a car accident in Oklahoma City, you’ll be glad you’re covered – and hopefully, the other driver will have proper coverage, too.  If that’s an issue you’re worried about, you should think about purchasing Uninsured Motorist (UM) or Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage for added protection.  

OK Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements and UM/UIM Coverage

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re currently an uninsured driver.  If that’s the case, you should make it a priority to get insured as soon as possible.  Yes, the process can be dull and cumbersome, and yes, auto insurance can be expensive.  However, the costs of driving while uninsured can be even greater.  We’ll discuss the penalties for driving while uninsured shortly, but first, let’s go over the minimum auto insurance requirements in Oklahoma – and what happens when the costs of an accident surpass the at-fault driver’s coverage limits (or when the at-fault driver doesn’t have any coverage).

State laws require Oklahoma drivers to be covered by liability insurance, which is meant to cover the costs of injuries and/or property damage resulting from a crash or collision.  An Oklahoma liability insurance policy must contain, at the very least, the following types and amounts of accident coverage:

  • $25,000 for property damage.
  • $25,000 for personal injury or wrongful death, per personnot per accident.
  • $50,000 for personal injury or wrongful death, per accident.  This covers accidents where more than one person is injured or killed.

To reiterate, these are the absolute bare minimum requirements.  Depending on your personal situation, you might also be interested in purchasing one or more optional types of coverage, such as comprehensive coverage.  Some people view extra coverage as an unnecessary expense, while others enjoy the peace of mind that comes from the added security.  As long as you meet the state’s minimum requirements and feel comfortable with your level of coverage, there’s really no “right” or “wrong” policy.

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That being said, it’s important to realize most fatal or injury accidents result in expenses which far exceed the coverage limits listed above.  As we pointed out in our article on insurance claims versus lawsuits, AAA estimates that the average cost of a car accident resulting in injury is around $126,000.  Meanwhile, the average cost of an accident resulting in wrongful death is a whopping $6 million – 120 times Oklahoma’s minimum per-accident coverage, and 240 times the minimum per-person coverage.

If, as often happens, the costs of an accident wind up exceeding the at-fault driver’s policy limits – or if the at-fault driver doesn’t have any coverage at all – he or she will have to pay out of pocket, which sometimes presents a financial problem.  In order to collect, the accident victim may need to seek out wage garnishment or have a lien placed on the defendant’s property, but even this might not be enough if the defendant doesn’t have significant assets or income to begin with.  In order to reduce the risk of encountering this situation, Oklahoma drivers should consider purchasing UM or UIM coverage, which will step in to provide additional coverage if an at-fault driver isn’t insured (UM) or lacks sufficient coverage (UIM), within the policy limits you select.

Fines and Penalties for Uninsured Drivers in OK

The Insurance Research Council reports that about 13% of drivers in the United States are uninsured.  Here in Oklahoma, those numbers may be even higher.  According to some estimates, up to a quarter of Oklahomans don’t have the minimum liability insurance coverage mandated by state law.

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If you’re among them, you should make every effort to purchase a policy as soon as you’re able.  If you’re forgetful or tend to procrastinate, leave reminder notes for yourself.  As we were saying just a moment ago, there can be costly penalties for driving with no insurance in the state of Oklahoma.  If you’re feeling tempted to skimp on coverage, knowing about these consequences might get you to change your mind:

  • You can be fined up to $250.
  • You can be sentenced to jail for up to 30 days.
  • Your driver’s license can be suspended.  Unless you can count on daily rides, or live in an urban area with good access to public transportation, this could take away your ability to commute – and with it, your job.
  • Your vehicle registration can be suspended.

If you choose to drive while your license is suspended, know that you risk facing yet another set of penalties, including fines and incarceration.

Contact a Knowledgeable Car Accident Lawyer in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

If you or one of your family members was injured in a car accident in Oklahoma City or other cities in the area, including Norman, Edmond, and Moore, you should call a car accident attorney of Hasbrook & Hasbrook at (405) 698-3040 for a free legal consultation.  You could be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, property damage, and other expenses resulting from the crash or collision.  We will answer all of your questions and help you understand the next legal steps to take.