Auto Accidents When the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance or Doesn’t Have Enough

September 3, 2012

Auto Accidents

Auto accident uninsured motoristMany drivers are aware of the problems that can result from being involved in a car accident with an uninsured motorist. These not-at-fault drivers may believe they will be protected by their automobile insurance policies.  This may not be the case.

Many drivers do not know an insured driver whose coverage is inadequate to cover most damages—an underinsured motorist—can be just as difficult to recover from as an uninsured motorist.

Ohio drivers have the option to purchase Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) policies, as add-ons to their auto insurance, but are these drivers really protected by the UM/UIM coverage if an auto accident with an uninsured or underinsured person occurs?  Are they aware that such an accident can lead to complex litigation?

In Ohio and many other states, drivers are required to carry minimum liability insurance or face driver’s license suspension.  In Ohio, minimum liability requirements are $12,500 per person in any one accident; $25,000 for all persons in any one accident and $7,500 for injury or destruction of property in any one accident.  Therefore, if someone hits your car and is at fault, and you have more than $12,500 in medical bills, those bills may not be covered.

The Insurance Research Council reported in April 2011 that a driver has a 1 in 7 chance while driving in the U.S., of being the victim of an uninsured individual.

To collect under your uninsured or underinsured motorist policy, the injured party will have to show the other motorist was at fault and prove their claimed injuries were greater than minor injuries.  The injured party must receive the entire amount of insurance available from the at-fault driver’s insurance company before the injured party can make a claim against his own insurance company for underinsured motorist protection.

In a hit-and-run situation, the owner of the damaged vehicle must prove the vehicle responsible actually came in contact with the victim’s vehicle.  Witnesses to the accident can be very helpful here.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist claims must be brought within the time specified (the statute of limitations (SOL)) in the uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance contract.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that the SOL is not “tolled” or stayed for minors, thus minors cannot file a claim beyond the statute of limitations (SOL), which in most policies is two years.  This coincides with the general statute for the deadline for filing a claim for bodily injuries in Ohio.

In some instances, a passenger in a vehicle may recover from an uninsured or underinsured driver.

In one case, an Ohio passenger and the Ohio driver were drinking on the night of the incident.  The driver rear-ended a broken-down bus on the freeway and the passenger was injured and had to undergo reconstructive surgery.  She ultimately received a $35,000 uninsured motorist settlement and an additional $12,500 payment.

In another case, an Ohio woman was injured in a car accident when an oncoming vehicle went left of center.  She suffered neck, back and knee injuries.  The other driver was underinsured.  The woman’s attorneys filed suit against the woman’s own insurance company for her underinsured motorist benefits.  The case settled for $65,000.

If you have been involved in an auto accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, it is important that you contact an attorney with experience in uninsured motorist cases.  Insurance companies, even your own, may want to avoid making payments.  The experienced attorneys at the Ohio law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP will pursue legal action against insurance companies to get you the coverage to which you are entitled.

Please contact Slater & Zurz LLP for a free consultation by calling 1-800-297-9191 or send a Blog Message to schedule a time to talk.

To learn more about car accidents in Ohio, please visit slaterzurz.com

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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