Driving without insurance is a crime in the state of Oklahoma. Drivers who do not carry insurance are subject fines, license suspension and even jail time. However, a new law that recently took effect will also prevent uninsured drivers from recovering money damages for injuries suffered in an Oklahoma car accident.
In May 2011, Governor Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 272 into law. The new measure prohibits uninsured drivers from collecting damages for pain and suffering from offending drivers after an accident. They will still be able to recover economic costs, such as property damage and loss of income, but will not be allowed to successfully sue for other intangible losses stemming from the accident.
Oklahoma law requires all motorists to carry the following insurance coverage:
- $25,000 for bodily injury to one person
- $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 in property damage.
The Insurance Research Council estimates that 24 percent of Oklahoma drivers are uninsured. These minimum amounts usually do not cover damages for pain and suffering or emotional distress.
Exceptions do exist that would allow uninsured drivers to sue for pain and suffering, such as when the injury is caused by a driver who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Also, drivers with valid insurance will not be affected by the new law.
The new law is meant to give uninsured drivers more incentive to purchase insurance, to reduce pain and suffering awards, and to prevent future windfalls for such drivers. If you have been involved in a car accident in Oklahoma, and have questions about how the new law may affect your case, an experienced attorney can advise you.