Who Pays For Car Accident Compensation In Ohio?
A car accident can happen in seconds. But it can cause serious injuries that take weeks or months to recover from—or that leave you with permanent damage. It can also have serious financial effects. Your medical expenses can add up quickly. And your injury may leave you unable to work for some time, resulting in lost income.
Columbus car accident attorney Scott Elliot Smith has been helping victims of car accidents get the compensation they need and deserve for more than 30 years. He knows the laws in Ohio and he knows how to deal with insurance companies. He will explore all your legal options for financial compensation so you can focus on getting your life back to normal.
What is the minimum insurance required in Ohio?
All drivers in Ohio are required to buy at least 25/50/25 coverage. This is liability insurance with minimum limits of:
- $25,000 for the injury or death of one person
- $50,000 for all injury or death in a single accident
- $25,000 for property damage
These minimum limits may not be enough to pay for the damages caused by a car accident, so it is a good idea to add more coverage. Remember, liability insurance protects people injured in an accident you cause; it doesn’t cover injuries to you and your family. If all you have is the minimum and you’re injured in a car accident caused by someone else, your recovery is limited by the other driver’s liability insurance. You can also buy optional coverage that protects you directly.
Collision and comprehensive insurance
Collision and comprehensive are two types of insurance that pay for damage to your vehicle. Collision, as the name implies, pays for damage sustained in a crash, and comprehensive pays for non-crash damage, such as fire, vandalism, or natural disaster. You are not legally required to carry collision or comprehensive; however, if your vehicle is financed, the lienholder may require you to carry this insurance.
Medical payments (MedPay)
Medical payments (MedPay) insurance is an optional type of coverage that pays for your medical expenses, up to the policy limit, if you are injured in an accident, regardless of who was at fault. MedPay can ensure your treatment is covered in the interim while you are still trying to get compensation for your medical care from the at-fault driver.
A related form of insurance available in some other states is called personal injury protection (PIP), which covers medical expenses as well as some reimbursement for lost wages and other expenses. PIP isn’t available in Ohio, though, so the only way to get compensation for non-medical expenses is through the other driver’s liability insurance.
Having some no-fault coverage on your policy can provide you with peace of mind and stability in the event of an accident. MedPay also makes it easier to move forward with medical care in the interim while your attorney pursues a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist protection
Even though Ohio law requires all motorists to carry liability insurance, some drivers break the law and choose to drive without it. You may have been harmed by a hit-and-run driver who is never found. Moreover, the minimum insurance in Ohio is often not enough to cover the full cost of an accident, especially if you have a serious injury or if there are several victims dividing up limited coverage.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist protection (UM/UIM) is a type of coverage on your own insurance policy that “stands in” for the other driver’s liability insurance in these situations. UM/UIM is optional in Ohio, but your insurance company is required to offer it to you, and if you don’t want it, you have to decline in writing. We highly recommend carrying UM/UIM; it’s usually quite inexpensive and the potential implications for your financial future are huge.
In an uninsured/underinsured case, there may be other sources of coverage available as well, depending on the situation. For instance, the at-fault driver may be covered under a family member’s or employer’s policy, or another entity entirely (such as a vehicle manufacturer) might be partially at fault for the accident. One of the advantages of working with an experienced attorney is that we can investigate your accident and find all available coverage to maximize your compensation.
Your compensation options
Ohio is a “fault” car insurance state. This means the person at fault for the accident (and, by extension, their insurance company) is generally considered liable for paying the damages (financial compensation) for people injured due to their negligence. Getting compensation is not easy. You can:
- File a “first party” claim with your insurance company — Depending on the types of coverage you have, this can help pay for costs not covered by an at-fault driver’s insurance. Your insurance company may in turn pursue reimbursement from the other insurance company (this is called subrogation).
- File a “third party” claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company — The insurance company may dispute fault for the accident or downplay the extent of your damages. Your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company and make the case for the full amount of compensation you deserve.
- File a lawsuit against the at-fault driver — Remember, filing a lawsuit doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to trial. Any case can be settled out of court at any point prior to the verdict. Filing a lawsuit allows us to put pressure on the insurance company to pay up and hold them accountable before they don’t.
Ohio also has a “modified” comparative negligence law. If you are found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, you cannot recover damages. If you are partially at fault (but less than 50%), you can still recover, but your recovery will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you are found to be 25% responsible for a car accident in which you were injured, any damages you are awarded would be reduced by 25%.
How an experienced attorney can pursue compensation
In order to get full compensation for your losses, you need to prove that another driver’s negligence led to your injuries and that you suffered damages as a result of those injuries. An experienced attorney can help move this process forward by gathering evidence to prove fault, establish the full extent of your damages, and investigate to find all available sources of applicable insurance coverage. Remember, the insurance company is always looking for ways to reduce or deny your claim, so an attorney can also protect your rights by dealing with them on your behalf.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, get an experienced attorney on your side who knows how to get results. Call Smith Law Office at 614-846-1700 to schedule a free evaluation of your case. We work on a contingency fee, which means you don’t pay us anything upfront; we only get paid if we win your case.
Columbus car accident lawyer Scott Elliot Smith knows how frustrating, upsetting and confusing the car accident compensation process can be in Ohio. Learn more about how he can help you demand the money you deserve. Contact us right now. We have two offices conveniently located in Columbus.