Basics of How Car Insurance Works in Ohio
As in most states, Ohio drivers must demonstrate financial responsibility if they are negligent and cause an accident. Generally, they purchase car insurance to provide that protection. To carry this type of insurance, Ohio, like most states, has minimum amounts of liability coverage. Presently those amounts are $25,000/$50,000. This means that if an Ohio driver is negligent and hurts or kills another person, the most that person can receive from their insurance carrier is $25,000. $50,000 is the number that is paid to all injured people including wrongful death. As to property damage, the most they can recover is $25,000.
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Alternatively, they can purchase a BMV certificate for $30,000(cash or government bonds) and deposit it with the state treasurer. They can also obtain a $30,000 certificate of bond issued from the BMV, signed by two people with real estate having at least $60,000 in equity. Finally, they can get a $30,000 bond from an authorized surety or insurance company.
- If they do not carry liability insurance and are involved in an accident which is their fault, they face various potential penalties as follows:
- Suspension of their driver license from 90 days to a full year for repeat offenders
- Impoundment of their car and/or license plates
- Reinstatement fee from $75.00 up to $500.00 for return of their driver license
- Proof on insurance compliance
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This liability insurance is important as Ohio is a “fault” based state. That means if an Ohio driver is responsible for the accident, their insurance company will pay compensation to any injured victim up to the insurance policy limits. Without that protection, they open themselves up to personal exposure. What if a driver is hurt by someone else’s negligence?
- They can look to their own car insurance company if they have medical payments coverage, personal protection benefits, or collision coverage. Fault does not matter as these coverages are contractual in nature. In this scenario, their insurance company will pay the proven claims, and will then look to the negligent driver’s car insurance company for reimbursement or subrogation.
- Secondly, they can file a claim with the negligent parties’ car insurance company. They will need to submit all damages caused by the accident. This will require proof of the injuries by medical records, wage loss confirmation, receipts for any damaged items, and in some cases, expert reports.
- Finally, if unable to settle the matter, they can file the case in a court of law against the responsible party. The insurance will still defend up to the policy limits. They need to make sure they file the lawsuit in a timely manner, or their case will be dismissed.
As is always the case, these matters are complex. An injured person is very vulnerable in this situation especially with serious injury. It does not cost anything to sit down with an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss all the options.
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Dennis P. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Georgia
Christopher A. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Michigan