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Who Pays Car Accident Compensation in Ohio?

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Car accidents happen in an instant, but if you were injured, you may end up paying for someone else’s negligent mistake for years.

Whether it happened in Cleveland or Columbus, I-70, I-75, or another roadway, treating car accident injuries can cost tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. You didn’t cause the accident, so you shouldn’t have to pay for it.

The at-fault driver must compensate you for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses, but you’re going to have to fight for it. An experienced Ohio car accident attorney can take on the insurance company and keep pushing for the results you deserve while you heal.

Here is some information about car accidents and your rights as an injured Ohio crash victim.

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In Ohio, the at-fault driver, or more likely their insurance company, pays for car accident injuries, losses, and property damage. That’s because Ohio is a “fault" state.

More specifically, Ohio is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar rule. This means that you can recover compensation even if you were partially at fault. However, your settlement or verdict will be reduced by your percentage of contribution to the accident. So, for example, if your actions contributed 10 percent to causing the accident, then your compensation would be reduced by 10 percent. It is important that you have an experienced car accident attorney to protect you from taking more blame for the crash than you deserve.

To legally drive in Ohio, drivers must demonstrate “financial responsibility” (FR). This is the ability to cover the cost of an accident, if they cause one. Most people do this by purchasing car insurance.

Ohio sets minimum car insurance standards. A driver must purchase $25,000 per-person bodily injury, $50,000 for all persons injured per accident, and $25,000 for property damage. This is known as 25/50/25 coverage.

If $75,000 doesn’t sound like enough money to cover a bad car accident, you’re right. It is highly recommended that drivers purchase more than the minimum car insurance. Buying optional coverage can enhance your car insurance policy. In Ohio, these options include:

  • Comprehensive – Protection for your vehicle from non-collision damages like theft, weather, or animal collision.
  • Collision – Protection for your vehicle from collision damages involving one or more vehicle(s).
  • Loan/lease payoff – Also known as “gap coverage,” if you have a car loan, this policy pays the difference between the actual cash value of your vehicle and what you still owe.
  • Medical payments - Sometimes called “MedPay,” this policy covers the medical and funeral expenses that you or your passengers sustain in an accident. This policy pays regardless of fault.
  • Rental car reimbursement – If your car is totaled or needs significant repairs after a crash, this policy will pay for a rental vehicle until you get your car back.
  • Roadside assistance – This pays for things like battery jumps, changing flat tires, and towing.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) – If the at-fault driver is uninsured or does not have enough insurance to cover your injury damages, your UIM policy can kick in to pay for these expenses. In general, hit-and-run accidents qualify for UIM coverage.
  • Uninsured motorist property damage – Just like UIM, if the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough or any insurance, this policy will pay for vehicle repairs and other property damage.

It is worth noting that personal injury protection (PIP) insurance is not available in Ohio.

Yes, under most circumstances injured Ohio car accident victims can sue at-fault drivers and third parties for crash damages. However, this is not always necessary.

In general, after a car accident, your options are:

  • File a “first-party” claim with your insurance company
  • File a “third-party” claim with the other driver’s insurance company
  • Sue the at-fault driver or another liable third party

Your attorney may need to file a lawsuit if:

  • The at-fault driver is uninsured or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your crash damages.
  • The insurance companies won’t make you a reasonable settlement offer.
  • A third party like a defective parts manufacturer or a reckless mechanic is liable for the accident.

Remember, even if you file a lawsuit, your case can still settle out of court. Most cases don’t make it to trial.

In most cases, once you accept a car accident settlement, you cannot sue for damages. The insurance company will generally attempt to pay you less than you deserve. So, never accept a settlement without first consulting an attorney.

Due to the high cost of health care and the significant disruption to your daily life, crash claims can easily reach into the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some cases result in multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts.

However, recovering car accident compensation is dependent on the insurance policies and assets of the at-fault driver or third party. Car accidents that involve semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles often involve liable entities with significant assets like trucking companies, cargo owners, and parts manufacturers.

In general, there are two types of damages that you can recover after a crash – economic (medical expenses, lost wages, etc.) and non-economic (pain, suffering, and other losses that don’t come with a price tag).

In most cases, car accident victims deserve compensation for:

  • Medical expenses such as hospital bills, ambulance services, medication, medical procedures, surgeries, physical therapies, dental work, and past as well as future crash-related medical costs.
  • Lost wages for when you are too injured to work.
  • Lost future income due to temporary or permanent disabilities and overall reduced abilities.
  • Replacement services for tasks made impossible or painful due to the accident. This may cover services like house cleaning, landscaping, and cooking.
  • Modifications to your home or vehicle to accommodate your new abilities.
  • Property damage such as car repairs and replacement.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Loss of quality and enjoyment of life.
  • Loss of consortium may apply in accidents that are fatal or lead to disability, thus depriving loved ones of the victim’s company and counsel.

In rare cases where the at-fault party acted egregiously, a judge may award you punitive damages.

If you don’t ask for it, the insurance company is not going to cover it. An experienced attorney can accurately calculate the value of your claim and show that you deserve maximum compensation.

You will likely have to tap into your UIM policy, if you have one. You may be able to recover compensation through a civil lawsuit against the driver, too. However, this is often not a feasible option. People without sufficient car insurance do not typically have many possessions. It is important that you have a lawyer who can identify all liable parties and sources for compensation in an accident.

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