Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Accidents in Ohio
Make sure you’re protected in an auto accident
When you’re involved in a car crash caused by someone else, you have the right to pursue compensation for your injuries. Unfortunately, too many injured people in Ohio are left without coverage for their injuries because of the irresponsible choices of other motorists.
An accident involving an uninsured or underinsured driver can leave you in a bad situation. However, you don’t have to navigate that situation alone. An experienced car accident attorney can help you find your path forward.
Ohio requires all drivers to carry liability insurance, but not all drivers follow the law. The penalties for driving without insurance are stiff – you can lose your license, have your vehicle registration suspended, and be fined – but those penalties are not much comfort for someone who is hurt by an uninsured motorist and needs to be compensated for their injuries.
Moreover, even if the at-fault driver has insurance, their coverage may not be enough to pay for the full cost of your accident. The state minimum coverage in Ohio is called 25/50/25 coverage: $25,000 for injuries to a single victim, $50,000 total for all injuries to multiple people in a single accident, and $25,000 for property damage. That’s enough to cover a minor accident, but a serious or disabling injury will cost much more than the state minimum.
In theory, you can pursue compensation in excess of the policy limits from the at-fault driver’s assets. In reality, that’s usually impractical. That’s why you need to protect yourself with uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance.
What is uninsured and underinsured motorist protection (UM/UIM)?
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) are types of insurance on your own policy that stand in for or supplement the at-fault driver’s insurance.
UM protects you if the driver who caused your accident doesn’t have insurance at all. UM also generally covers you in hit-and-run and “phantom vehicle” situations where the driver who caused your injuries cannot be found, as an unknown driver is considered uninsured by default.
UIM covers you if the at-fault driver has some insurance but doesn’t have enough to cover your injuries. The state minimum bodily injury coverage in Ohio is $25,000 for injuries to a single person and $50,000 per accident, and a serious injury can easily cost much more than that.
You’re not required to carry this coverage in Ohio, but it’s in your interest to add it to your policy. You’re allowed to carry UM/UIM coverage up to your liability policy limit. Usually, this costs $50 to $100 per year – much less than the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional protection you get.
You can also carry uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) insurance, which pays for damage to your vehicle and property if you are hit by an uninsured driver. This may be helpful if you do not have collision coverage.
How an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim works
If you’re in an accident caused by an uninsured driver and you have uninsured motorist protection, then your claim proceeds much like any other car accident claim. You still have to prove negligence on the part of the other driver and establish the full extent of your damages as a result of that negligence. The only difference is that you’re dealing with your own insurance company rather than the other driver’s insurance company. Likewise, if you’re hit by an underinsured motorist, you pursue a claim with the other driver’s insurance company first, but your UIM coverage from your own insurance will kick in once you’ve exhausted the other driver’s policy limits.
You’d think dealing with your own insurance company would make your claim easier – after all, you’re their customer. But any insurance company, even your own, still has a profit motive to minimize claims. As such, you still need an experienced car accident attorney to deal with the insurance company and help you get full value for your injuries.
If you don’t have UM/UIM insurance, an attorney may still be able to help you. We can investigate to find other sources of coverage and coordinate the available coverage to leave you with more money.
As with any car accident, the key is to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights and options. At Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, we’re proud to stand up for victims of uninsured and underinsured drivers in Columbus and throughout Central Ohio. Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney.
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