Proposed bill precludes uninsured drivers from ‘pain-and-suffering’ awards after a crash
The problem of driving uninsured in Oklahoma is looking to be dealt with very soon; the Oklahoma senate and insurance commissioner are hoping that the recent bill, which is moving through legislature, will be signed into law, so as to stop drivers from driving on public roads without insurance.
The bill, called SB 272, gained a majority approval with a 28 to 20 vote in the senate and if signed in would be a change of state law, barring drivers from claiming pain-and-suffering damages caused in an accident by another driver. These drivers will still be able to claim from the perpetrator for medical costs, property damage and loss of income as a result of the accident, but not for the more intangible and psychological effects of the accident.
Similar Laws Already Enacted in Many States
The law, or similar variants of it, is already enacted in many states across the country, where it is deemed to discourage motorists from driver whilst uninsured, a problem which seems to be very common in the state of Oklahoma.
Statistics on auto insurance in Oklahoma state that they have one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the entire country. It’s estimated that nearly 24 percent of drivers did not have an auto insurance policy in 2007 and 2009, this in a report published by the Oklahoma insurance research council. This effectively means that 1 in every 4 motorists was not insured; far worse than the national average of 1 in 7.
“A common-sense piece of legislation” was the opinion of state insurance commissioner John Doak, who added that if a bill like this was passed it would work toward a serious increase in access to cheap auto insurance for all drivers in the state of Oklahoma. “Steps like SB 272 will encourage motorists who might forgo liability coverage to obtain it,” Doak said in a prepared statement. “That will help reduce premiums because no longer will the insured bear the costs of the damage and injuries caused by uninsured motorists.”
There is, however, opposition to the bill that still remains. Senator Sean Burrage told the Oklahoman newspaper spoke out against the bill saying that it would be to the serious detriment of Oklahoman citizens who, for financial reasons, could not afford that type of coverage.
In argument against Sen. Burrage, there are certain exceptions that occur with the bill. These include cases where the driver at fault was caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, where the driver at fault fled the scene after the incident (hit and run), where a driver intentionally caused an accident or if the uninsured victim had had his or her coverage cancelled unknowingly, due to things like non-payment of premiums.
Generally the bill is seen as necessary and in a positive direction, but the fact that it harms the poorest of society might count against it being passed into law.