Car insurance is something you probably don’t think about very much until you need to use it. But in the event that you do need to file a claim, it is critical to understand how car insurance in Ohio works.
When dealing with an insurance company after a car accident, you should always remember that they are not necessarily working to do what is best for you. That’s why it is always a good idea to speak with a lawyer who is looking out for you and your family. Graham & Graham has been helping Ohioans involved in car accidents for decades. We offer free case reviews and accept all injury cases on a contingency-fee basis. Don’t hesitate to call 1-800-621-8585 or send us a message to discuss an accident or insurance matter.
What does it mean that Ohio is an “At-Fault” state?
From a car insurance standpoint, states can be either “No-Fault” or “At-Fault.” In no-fault states, such as New York, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, you file a claim with your insurance company to recover compensation for a car accident caused by another driver. In Ohio and other at-fault states, you generally file a claim with the insurance company of the driver who is responsible for the accident. However, in certain situations, you may end up filing a claim with your insurance company, such as when the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance (underinsured motorist insurance), or they have no insurance (uninsured motorist insurance).
If you are in an accident in a state that uses no-fault laws, but you pay for an Ohio at-fault policy, you should speak with a lawyer to determine the best course of action.
I don’t have car insurance. Can I still recover accident compensation?
Because Ohio is an at-fault state, you can still recover from the responsible party, as long as they have auto insurance. Not having insurance would only come into play if you cause an accident and somebody else needs to make a claim against you, or if the other driver was uninsured/underinsured and you have to rely on your insurance. Aside from accident liability and compensation considerations, you could temporarily lose driving privileges for driving uninsured in Ohio. Proof of insurance must be presented at accident scenes.
I was in an accident and now the other person’s insurance company is saying the accident was partly my fault. How does this affect my claim?
Ohio uses “comparative negligence” law to assign fault in personal injury claims, including auto accidents. Under comparative negligence, both drivers can potentially be found liable for the accident. You can still recover compensation as long as you are 50 percent or less at fault, but any compensation you recover will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you. Keep in mind, too, that insurance companies have a financial incentive to use comparative negligence as a defense. They could be claiming you are partly at fault simply as a way to reduce their payout. Don’t accept their version of events without first talking to a lawyer.
I was a passenger in a vehicle that crashed. Whose policy covers me?
In Ohio, car insurance typically follows the car. That means the at-fault driver’s insurance covers injuries to passengers. A number of different scenarios are possible, though, and any questions should be directed to an experienced car accident lawyer.
- If you were a passenger in a vehicle that crashed and the driver of the other vehicle is at fault, you will have a claim against the other driver’s insurance company.
- If you are a passenger in a vehicle and the driver of that vehicle is at fault, you will have a claim against their insurance company.
- If the other driver is at fault but doesn’t have insurance—or enough insurance—you might be covered by the uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage of the driver you are riding with.
- If fault was shared between both drivers, you may be able to make a claim against both drivers’ policies.
- You may also be able to make a claim under Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay) coverage from your insurance policy, regardless of who is at fault. In this case, the at-fault party’s insurer would reimburse your insurance company.
I was involved in a hit-and-run accident and the other driver fled the scene. How can I file a claim?
Following a hit-and-run, making a police report detailing the facts of the accident is critical. As long as some type of law enforcement investigation is conducted, you will be able to make a claim against the uninsured motorist coverage of your auto insurance policy. Without uninsured motorist coverage, you will have to hope that law enforcement is able to find the driver who caused the accident.
I was in an accident and my damages exceed the responsible party’s policy limits. How can I recover more?
Ohio drivers are required to carry minimum car insurance amounts of $25,000 for the injury/death of one person, $50,000 for the injury/death of two or more people, and $25,000 for property damage. However, due to high medical costs—the average 3-day hospital stay costs around $30,000—these minimums can easily be exhausted.
When this happens, you have two options. The first is to file a claim with your underinsured motorist insurance (UIM). UIM covers accident expenses that exceed the responsible party’s policy limits. If you don’t have UIM coverage, your only option may be to file a lawsuit against the responsible driver. Although Ohio law allows accident victims to take assets from the at-fault party in order to cover the costs of any damages that occur, there are many considerations that come into play, and a consultation with a lawyer is strongly advised.
Am I protected if I have ‘full coverage?’
The term “full coverage” is often used to describe an auto insurance policy that meets or exceeds the state’s minimum insurance requirements of $25,000/$50,000/$25,000, and also includes collision and comprehensive insurance. Comprehensive coverage protects your vehicle from non-accident damages such as falling objects and vandalism, while collision covers repairs to your vehicle when you hit another vehicle or object. MedPay and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages might also be part of a “full coverage” package.
“Full coverage” doesn’t have an official definition in the insurance industry. Having full coverage doesn’t mean you have a good policy, either. Since Ohio is an at-fault state, you can have full coverage and still not have enough insurance to pay for an accident victim’s damages if you cause a crash.
Will the car insurance company pay my bills as I receive them?
From medical expenses and property damage to emotional distress and loss of income, the bills can really pile up for a car accident victim. Unfortunately, you should not necessarily expect the insurance company to reimburse you for accident-related costs in real-time.
Most claims are resolved by a settlement that you negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The settlement should cover the full cost of all your losses, but this amount is difficult (or impossible) to calculate until the recovery process is complete. Depending on the extent of your injuries, this could take months or even years. In the meantime, you may have to rely on your health insurance, auto insurance, or some other means of payment. A car accident lawyer can help you deal with bills while they negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
How much does it cost to hire a car accident lawyer?
Graham & Graham handles car accident claims and other injury cases on a contingency-fee basis. That means you pay no upfront fees, and no fees at all, unless and until we recover money for you. If we do not recover money for you, either through a settlement or court verdict, you do not pay attorneys’ fees.
Car Insurance Questions? Talk to a Lawyer for Free
“Googling” answers to car insurance questions is no substitute for speaking to a lawyer. Many issues can arise during the claims process. We recommend engaging legal counsel as soon as possible to make sure the process goes smoothly. What may appear to be a simple issue or non-issue to the untrained eye could make or break your car accident case. For help with your case, call 1-800-621-8585 or Contact Us.