If you live or work in Ohio, you may not give much thought to what your auto insurance covers, or how your insurance policy interacts with other drivers' policies -- until you're involved in an accident. Suffering physical injuries due to another driver's negligent or reckless driving can leave you with bills to pay and decisions to make regarding your best course of action, particularly if the driver who hit you was under insured. However, a recent change to the way insurance subrogation works in Ohio could affect the amount of money you'll be able to recover from the other driver through a personal injury lawsuit. Read on to learn more about your financial options following an accident that was not your fault.
How are costs associated with an auto accident paid?
When you're hit by another driver, this driver's auto insurance policy should pay for damage to your vehicle and medical bills up to the policy limits. The minimum amount of bodily injury insurance you're required to carry in Ohio includes a maximum of $25,000 in medical payments per person or $50,000 per accident -- this means that if someone has only state minimum coverage and causes you to incur more than $25,000 in medical bills, you may be on the hook for costs over this amount.
If the person who caused your accident doesn't have auto insurance, your uninsured motorist coverage should kick in but will again be subject to your maximum claim amounts and may not be enough to cover all your medical costs if your injuries were severe or require ongoing treatment. Regardless of whether the other driver had good coverage, minimal coverage, or no coverage at all, the insurance company paying for these damages may try to negotiate this amount down to the lowest possible amount.
If you've incurred costs not covered by an insurance payout or settlement, you may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. This can allow you to finally be fully compensated for the harm to your vehicle, your body, and your lifestyle.
What does the change in Ohio's subrogation laws mean for insurance claims?
A recent change in the way insurance policies pay out damages to those whose full injuries aren't covered by the defendant's insurance policy could result in more money in your pocket. Under the old law, insurance companies were permitted to take out a percentage of the recovery amount for injured plaintiffs, even if the plaintiff's bills weren't covered by the original amount provided by the defendant's insurance company. This change will put a cap on the amount of fees and costs that can be charged by an insurance company during the processing of a claim that won't cover all the plaintiff's bills, and could boost the amount of your insurance recovery by a substantial margin.
When should you file a personal injury lawsuit?
If you're still facing medical bills after the insurance payout, you may opt to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover the rest of the costs owed you. Unlike an insurance settlement, a personal injury lawsuit can allow you to recover punitive damages -- funds intended not to compensate you for your injuries, but to punish the defendant for aggressive, reckless, or negligent behavior behind the wheel.
If you can establish that the defendant's negligent or reckless driving directly led to your injury, you'll generally be able to secure a monetary judgment against the defendant. However, these judgments aren't self-executing, and if the defendant fails to pay, you'll need to seek a garnishment or other type of withholding order that will allow you to directly divert the defendant's income into your pocket to help begin reimbursing you for all your medical costs.
Laws about personal injury cases and insurance payments can vary from state to state, so it's important to make sure you're working with an experienced attorney no matter where you live. Visit theluckylawfirm.com to learn more.