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Can You Sue For More than the Policy Limit in an Auto Accident?

January 4, 2021

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Auto accidents aren’t just painful—they’re often extremely expensive, too. People who suffer moderate injuries can easily rack up tens of thousands of dollars in damages, while victims with serious or life-threatening injuries may have hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. Insurance is supposed to help those victims recover some or all of their damages, but it doesn’t always work that way.

All drivers in Ohio are required to carry valid auto insurance coverage to legally operate their vehicles, but many drivers opt for minimum coverage. That means the people they hurt may be limited in how much money they can recover, even if their personal injury claims are successful, whether it’s via negotiation or in court.

What Are the Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements in Ohio?

Valid auto insurance in Ohio consists of the following coverage:

  • $25,000 per person for injuries
  • $50,000 for all injured victims
  • $25,000 for property damage

While those figures may seem like a lot, they often aren’t nearly enough to cover all crash-related expenses. Thankfully, many people purchase additional coverage that goes well beyond the minimum limits, but even then, their coverage may be far from the amount that victims need for full financial recoveries.

Auto Accident Costs Add Up Fast

After a crash, a victim may rack up a stack of bills that look like this:

  • Ambulance ride for transportation to the hospital after the crash
  • Surgery if necessary
  • Overnight stay(s) in the hospital during recovery
  • Prescription medications, including intravenous drugs
  • Physical rehabilitation both in the hospital and after release
  • Specialist visits if organs were damaged or serious internal injuries occurred
  • Vehicle repair costs, including total replacement of totaled vehicle
  • Weeks, months, or even years of lost wages

As you can see, $25,000 for a single person or damaged vehicle may not go very far when all the costs are tallied up.

You Can Sue For as Much Compensation as You Need

Seeing your crash-related expenses compared to the coverage that the person who hit you carries may be disheartening. But remember, auto insurance is just to protect people from liability. You’re free to file a compensation claim that goes well beyond the at-fault driver’s policy limits.

When expenses significantly outweigh coverage limits, victims have a few options:

  • Suing at-fault drivers directly to recoup the difference—This is a common option, but it may only be viable if the at-fault driver has significant assets or income. Even if you receive a favorable verdict, you may not be able to count on receiving much money from the driver outside of their insurance policy.
  • Collecting punitive damages—When at-fault drivers act in an extremely negligent or even malicious manner, their victims may be able to collect punitive damages from them. These damages are designed to punish them for their behavior, and they are collected in addition to a personal injury settlement.
  • Naming additional parties in their injury claim—Many crashes involve more than one at-fault driver. If that’s the case with your accident, you may be able to add a second or even a third driver in your personal injury settlement, especially if they are proven to be at fault. Then, you can collect settlements from each at-fault driver.

Trust Our Experience for Obtaining Maximum Compensation

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we know that Ohio’s minimum auto insurance coverage is rarely enough to pay for all crash-related expenses. That’s why we do everything in our power to help victims get every penny they’re truly owed for everything from medical bills and lost wages to property damage and pain and suffering.

Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll exhaust all possibilities to maximize your chances of getting the money you need.

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