Q: “I was injured by another driver. They were at fault. Their insurance company’s adjuster has been very helpful and nice, and says they will pay for my car and my medical bills. Do I need an attorney?”A: Yes. What the adjuster isn’t telling you is that, under Oklahoma law, you’re entitled to be “fairly compensated” for more than just your car and medical bills. You are also entitled to:
– lost wages from any inability to work from the injury,
– loss of personal property in the vehicle that was damaged,
– loss of the companionship of your spouse during your rehabilitation,
– any permanent disabilities you might have suffered from the injury,
– expenses of future medical services to treat the injury,
– corrective surgery to repair any cosmetic damages of the injury, and
– compensation for any pain and suffering you might have experienced.
An insurance adjuster’s job to pay you as little as you will accept. On the other hand, your attorney’s job is to make sure you are “fairly compensated” for any outcome of the accident listed above. Ideally, you should work with an attorney experienced in personal injury matters.
Q: “I was severely injured in a traffic accident. The driver who hit me doesn’t have enough insurance to cover my injuries. Do I need an attorney?”
A: Yes! You may have “uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage” in your own policy, or on another vehicle in your household. If so, you are entitled to be fairly compensated for your injuries after the other driver’s policy is exhausted, or if the other driver doesn’t have insurance. You may also have “med pay” in your policy that will help you with medical bills.
The rules for applying this coverage can be very tricky. Hiring an experienced attorney is the best way to make sure you don’t inadvertently give up your legal rights.
By the way, under Oklahoma law, your premiums do not go up as a result of a claim under this policy provision.
Q: “I was rear-ended. My seat back collapsed and I was badly hurt, breaking my neck. My medical bills were four times as high as the other driver’s coverage and mine, combined. Can an attorney help me?”
A: Maybe. But you must talk to one quickly! Before the insurance company sells your vehicle for salvage or has it crushed, it’s critically important to have it inspected by a safety engineer who specializes in auto crash-worthiness. Attorneys with product liability practices work with safety engineers who can make these kinds of inspections.
For example, if your seat back collapses, there’s a significant chance that your vehicle may fail to pass “crash-worthiness” safety standards required by law. In many cases like these, the injured party’s neck is broken because the seat belt did not adequately restrain the passenger or driver when the seat back collapsed. When a seat back fails in this way, you may have a legitimate product liability case against the vehicle manufacturer.
Quick action by you or your family to engage a qualified attorney can make all the difference in the injured party’s future. Be sure to ask the attorney if he/she has ever handled a matter like this.
Q: “My minor child was a passenger in my car and was injured when we were in an accident. Do I need an attorney to settle his claims?”
A: Yes. In Oklahoma, whenever a minor is injured, any significant amount paid for the child’s injuries must be deposited into a trust account for the exclusive benefit of the child. The amount of the settlement must be approved by a District Judge, and withdrawals from the Trust must be approved by the Court. The minor is required to have someone hired or appointed to appear with him as his legal advisor to evaluate his rights.
Q: “My child was badly hurt while riding a Yahama 3-wheeler ATV. He lost control and was seriously injured. Do I need an attorney?”
A: Yes! This Yamaha vehicle has been proven to be inherently and dangerously unstable. An attorney experienced in this kind of case can advise you how to make a claim against Yamaha.