Are you protected from uninsured drivers? Tips from an Ohio personal injury lawyer

by R. Craig McLaughlin

1 out of every 8 drivers on Ohio’s roads is driving without auto insurance. Are you protected if you’re involved in a crash with an uninsured driver?

The next time you’re commuting to work or are carpooling kids to soccer practice, take a look around at the other cars on the roadway. Pick out eight vehicles. According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS), one or more of those eight drivers is driving without insurance. When you consider 50,000 Ohio crashes a year involve an uninsured driver and 75 percent of those crashes are caused by the uninsured driver, you better make sure you have taken steps to protect yourself and your family.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage - car accident lawyer
Photo Credit: Caleb George / CC BY 2.0

What is uninsured motorist coverage?

Ohio law requires drivers to maintain proof of financial responsibility in the minimum amount of $25,000 for bodily injury to or death of one individual in any one accident; $50,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more individuals in any one accident; and $25,000 for injury to the property of others in any one accident. Most people comply with this law by purchasing an insurance policy, but statistics show there is a large segment of Ohio drivers who are driving without insurance.

If you are involved in a car crash caused by an Ohio uninsured driver, you could be left holding the bag. Unless that driver is a celebrity, professional athlete or recently won the lottery (all of these are highly unlikely or they would have had the money to purchase liability auto insurance in the first place!), then you won’t have any source of compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, out of pocket expenses, and pain and suffering.

So what can and should you do? You need to make sure your insurance policy provides uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is there to compensate you for your damages and losses in the event you are involved in a collision that is caused by an uninsured driver.

This is an optional coverage in Ohio, but one you should definitely purchase to protect yourself and your family. Check the declarations page on your auto insurance policy to see if you have it. The declarations page is a document that comes with your policy and lists the types of coverage you have; the amount of coverage and the amount of premium you pay for the coverage. Do not be tempted to save a few dollars on your premiums by declining uninsured motorist. And in my opinion, if your insurance agent fails to offer it or suggests that you decline this type of coverage, then I suggest you find a new insurance agent immediately.

The tale of two similar clients who had very different outcomes because of the purchase of uninsured motorist coverage

I recently had two clients who both suffered very serious injuries in a car crash caused by an uninsured driver. “Bill” was on his way to work when the driver of another car fell asleep, crossed left of center and struck Bill’s truck in a head-on collision. Bill’s truck was demolished and he suffered a fractured hip, shattered pelvis and other serious injuries. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he needed surgery. He then spent nearly a month at the hospital and a rehabilitation facility before he was able to go home. Bill’s medical expenses exceeded $100,000 and he was unable to work at his job as a construction foreman for over six months. His wife was a stay at home mom who cared for their two young daughters. Like many Ohio families, they lived paycheck to paycheck and depended on Bill’s steady income.

In an effort to save a few dollars each month on his car insurance, Bill made the mistake of not purchasing uninsured motorist coverage that would have given him some protection in this tragedy. Fortunately, Bill had health insurance that paid for most of his medical bills, but he was still responsible for thousands of dollars in medical bills in the form of deductibles, co-pays, and other out of pocket expenses. Since the driver had neither liability auto insurance nor any assets to pursue and Bill did not purchase uninsured motorist coverage, he was on the hook for these unpaid medical bills; was not going to be compensated for his significant lost wages and did not receive money for the dramatic impact this incident had on him and his family. I had to deliver this bad news to Bill that I was not able to recover anything for him or his family. Bill and his family avoided filing for bankruptcy, but this tragedy took its toll on him and his family financially, physically and emotionally.

Contrast Bill’s story with what happened to my client “Karen.” She was on her way to visit her mother when an uninsured motorist ran a stop sign and caused a T-bone collision that sent Karen’s car spinning off the side of the road. Karen suffered a herniated disk in her neck, a fractured arm and other serious injuries. Like Bill, Karen had to undergo surgery to repair the damage, had an extended hospital stay and missed significant time from her job as an administrative assistant. Fortunately, Karen had purchased uninsured motorist coverage in the amount of $250,000. Therefore, I was able to obtain this money for Karen, which paid for her medical bills, reimbursed her for her lost wages and compensated her for the disruption this event caused in her life.

Purchase Uninsured Motorist Coverage To Protect You and Your Family

So what is the take away from this article? Check the declarations page of your auto insurance policy to make sure you have uninsured motorist coverage. With 1 out of every 8 Ohio drivers on the road not having liability auto insurance, you are playing “Russian Roulette” with your physical, emotional and financial future if you do not have uninsured motorist coverage. I encourage everyone who asks me to purchase at least $250,000 or more of both liability and uninsured motorist coverage. I also suggest you ask your insurance agent about and consider purchasing an umbrella or excess insurance policy of $1 million or more to further protect yourself. An umbrella insurance policy is insurance that provides additional coverage above and beyond the underlying auto insurance policy. However, make sure you specifically request an umbrella that provides additional insurance coverage for both liability and uninsured motorist coverage because some insurance companies only issue umbrella policies for liability insurance coverage and not uninsured motorist coverage.

 

Craig McLaughlin represents people who have been seriously injured or killed as a result of motor vehicle crashes, defective products, nursing home neglect, and other medical negligence. He has been recognized by Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, and AVVO and is a life member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

What to Do After a Car Accident

Ohio personal injury attorney David J. Elk discusses what to do after a motor vehicle accident.

In the event you’ve been in an automobile or motorcycle accident, you may be wondering what to do next and how to protect yourself.

Download and print out a FREE Accident Checklist and keep it in your glove compartment. It includes 11 tips to follow and also provides space to take notes at the scene of the accident.

The most important thing you can do is to ensure that you and your loved ones seek immediate medical attention. Be aware that you may be injured even if you don’t feel hurt. The trauma of being involved in an accident can cause adrenaline to pump into your body, masking the pain. Many car accident victims do not feel their injuries right away and this is completely natural.

After serious injuries have been attended to, you should begin to gather evidence at the site of the crash. If it is safe to do so, use a camera or cell phone to take photographs of all vehicles involved in the accident. While it is best to take photographs before the vehicles are moved, be aware that you should never block traffic or put yourself or others in danger. When taking pictures, try to include angles that show damage to the vehicles.

You should also try to speak to anyone who witnessed the accident. Get their names and phone numbers so attorneys and insurance companies can contact them. Having a witness can be a big advantage, as they are generally unbiased parties and may help prove the other driver was at fault for your damages.

Your attorney may be able to get more information from surveillance video or audio equipment. Oftentimes, video from a traffic cam or a store security camera within the vicinity of the accident scene can be used. An experienced attorney can be an invaluable asset to you and your loved ones. He or she will have the knowledge and skills necessary to obtain just compensation from all negligent parties. Feel free to contact the offices of Elk & Elk if you have any questions regarding your accident.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

David J. Elk

Filing a Claim after a Hit and Run Accident

Personal Injury attorney David Elk recounts what happened to a former U.S. Navy seal when he was thrown from his motorcycle in a hit and run accident.

 

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, nothing is more frustrating and alarming than the other driver speeding off from the scene, failing to take responsibility or even checking to see if you’re okay.

Unfortunately, this scenario happens all too often. Speeding drivers, drunk drivers, unsafe drivers, uninsured motorists or even unlicensed drivers flee the scenes of accidents to avoid their responsibilities.

So how do you file a claim if you don’t know who the other driver was? At Elk & Elk, we will investigate the scene of a hit and run accident to see if we can get that information from witnesses, surveillance video cameras or other sources in the area. If we are unable to determine the identity of the negligent driver, we can file a claim against your own insurance company.

Although you may think you only pay insurance to protect yourself in the event you injure someone else in a car accident, your insurance policy also exists protects you. However, if you do file a claim, be aware that your insurance company may not automatically grant your claim just because you are a customer. In some cases, your insurance company may deny your claim completely.

When dealing with an unidentified negligent driver, you should speak to a personal injury attorney. An experienced accident lawyer understands how to navigate complicated claims and deal with insurance companies. He or she will make sure you do not fall victim to lowball settlement checks or other tactics used by the insurance company to avoid paying you what you deserve in the case of your accident.

After an accident, you should focus your attention on recovering from your injuries. Let your attorney handle recovering compensation for medical bills, hospital stays, physical therapy, prescription drug, lost wages and all the other costs that you’ve incurred as the result of someone else’s negligence.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

David J. Elk

How Long Will My Accident Case Take?

Ohio personal injury attorney Mindy Elk Fisher shares important information about filing a claim after a motor vehicle accident.

 

Dealing with the aftermath of an automobile accident can be frustrating and exhausting as you deal with the other driver, their insurance company and your own insurance company to clean up the mess.

Once it’s been decided that you need to file a lawsuit in order to be compensated for your injuries, you may be wondering how long the legal process will take.

Litigation timelines will vary from per person and per case. Your accident case may be similar to someone else’s, but the details are always different. An experienced accident lawyer will tailor your case with an understanding of your specific losses and damages that require compensation. This can include lost wages, medical bills, hospital stays, prescription drugs and any other costs incurred due to the negligence of the other driver.

Before you file a claim, it is important to make sure you wait until you receive a long-term prognosis and to finish the treatment plan your doctor lays out for you. Your injuries may be much more severe than you think and, unfortunately, you may continue to suffer for a long time—perhaps even for the rest of your life.

Typically, an auto accident case can take anywhere from one to two years to complete within the state of Ohio. Again, this is a typical amount of time and it can vary due to many factors. Your case may go into the settlement phase very quickly which shortens the time greatly. However, you need to be aware that a settlement may not be your best option. Insurance companies are quick to offer early cash settlements that are small in comparison to what you will actually need to recover from a significant and/or permanent injury. An experienced attorney can help you navigate this very complicated and stressful time. At Elk & Elk, we take on the stress of litigation and proving your case as you focus on getting healthier and recovering as much as possible.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at www.elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

Mindy Elk Fisher

Uninsured Drivers: How They Can Affect You

Uninsured drivers affect everyone.I’m sure you don’t think much about uninsured drivers, but it’s very important to understand how they can affect every one of us on the roads. You should know what it means to be involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.

Even when all drivers involved in the accident are insured, it can be a difficult situation to handle. However, when you’re dealing with an uninsured driver, resolving the damage is even more challenging. The laws that govern automobile accidents differ from state to state. So, how uninsured drivers are handled depends on that state’s law. This is why you should work with a car accident attorney if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. In these situations, working with a qualified professional will give you peace of mind, especially if there were any injuries. A lawyer will be able to assist you with making a claim to your insurance company and help you figure out what damages should be paid by the uninsured party.

Did you know that nearly 1 in 7 drivers don’t have insurance? This means when you pay for your insurance policy, you are also paying to protect yourself from the uninsured drivers out there. Most auto insurance policies include provisions for damages or injuries caused by uninsured drivers. Depending on what state you live in, this addition can make your auto insurance much more expensive.

Even if you have all the right coverage, uninsured drivers are still treacherous for everyone. So, if you are involved in an accident, the wisest thing you can do to protect yourself is to call an accident lawyer and ensure that all of your needs are met.

Arthur M. Elk

The Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Lawsuits in Ohio

by Arthur Elk

LawIf you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident, you should retain the services of a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. The attorney you hire will be able to help you determine if you have a viable claim for a lawsuit if the accident was caused by the other driver’s negligence. If this is the case, you may be able to obtain monetary compensation for the injuries or property damage you or your loved one have suffered.

The legal system is incredibly complex and nuanced, especially to a layperson. Your lawyer can help walk you through the process of filing a claim by gathering and exchanging evidence with the other side, negotiating a settlement, and presenting the case to a jury at trial.

One of the most important things your car accident lawyer will be able to explain to you is the statute of limitations. In a civil case, the statute of limitations is the amount of time that the injured party has to file the lawsuit. This time period generally begins on the date of the accident, and once it expires, the injured party will be barred from recovering any damages. In Ohio, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is two years from the date of the offense.

As your car accident lawyer can explain to you, this statute of limitations can sometimes be extended if “good cause” is shown. Good cause generally involves some bad faith actions taken by the other party or another legitimate reason for why the claiming party could not file the lawsuit in a timely fashion.

NTSB Most Wanted List 2014

Are you one of this country’s ‘Most Wanted?’ If you’ve been using your cell phone or other portable electronic device while driving, then you’ve been engaging in distracted driving—one of the top priorities for the national Transportation Safety Board.

Each year, the NTSB releases its Most Wanted List, which represents their advocacy priorities. It is designed to highlight the most critical changes needed to reduce transportation accidents and save lives. This year, the agency is pursuing a number of goals, including the elimination of distractions in all modes of transportation—highway, aviation, railroad, marine, and even pipelines.

While this may seem like a daunting task, you can do your part by making the commitment to drive phone-free and encouraging your friends and family to do the same. Check out our infographic to learn more.

Distracted Driving Infographic

 According to the NTSB website, cell phones and other electronics are a “cultural epidemic.”

“With the expansive increase in portable electronic devices (PEDs), including cell phones, messaging and navigation systems, and entertainment devices, as well as the growing development of integrated technologies in vehicles, the NTSB is seeing a disturbing growth in the number of accidents due to distracted operators; often these accidents have deadly consequences. . . In short, operator distraction due to PED usage is a cultural epidemic that too often has tragic consequences.”

The complete NTSB Most Wanted List includes the following goals:

  • Address Unique Characteristics of Helicopter Operations
  • Advance Passenger Vessel Safety
  • Eliminate Distraction in Transportation
  • Eliminate Substance-Impaired Driving
  • Enhance Pipeline Safety
  • Improve Fire Safety in Transportation
  • General Aviation: Identify and Communicate Hazardous Weather
  • Implement Positive Train Control Systems
  • Promote Operational Safety in Rail Mass Transit
  • Strengthen Occupant Protection in Transportation

 

 

 

 

Common Car Design Defects and the Danger They Pose to Drivers

By Arthur Elk

Photo by Mouring Kolhoff
Photo by Mouring Kolhoff

You might think that car accidents are only caused by a driver’s negligent or poor operation of his or her vehicle. However, many car accidents are caused by design or construction defects within the car itself. Car crashes kill more than 40,000 people each year, and a significant number of these are caused by defective automobiles.

A car accident lawyer can assist you in obtaining a refund, settlement payment, or other compensation if a defect in your vehicle causes a car accident. Some of the most common defects that lead to accidents or injuries include malfunctioning airbags, broken door latches that eject passengers during an accident, fire caused by defective gasoline tanks, rollovers caused by vehicles that are prone to rolling over, weak or defective roofs that cave in and crush passengers, and seat belt failure caused by defective seatbelts.

One example of a vehicle design defect that made national news is the Toyota Prius’s acceleration issues. The car accident attorney team working on behalf of Toyota customers reached a settlement of more than $1 billion with the Toyota car company, showing that design defects can have serious consequences for vehicle manufacturers.

In some instances, the vehicle may be built with the defect already present; as was the case with the Toyota Prius. Other times, the defect develops after the driver purchases the vehicle. Regardless of which scenario happens to you, you can obtain compensation for your injuries with the help of a qualified car accident attorney.

What will my car accident cost?

by Arthur Elk

iStock_000004114467SmallCar accidents are devastating events that can change the course of the victim’s life in an instant. Not only can they cause severe injuries and emotional trauma, they can also have shocking financial effects. Depending on the severity of the collision, car accidents can cost victims and their families thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. For this reason, it is best to call a car accident attorney if you’ve been involved in a collision.

Some financial consequences of car accidents are quite obvious. You may have to spend money to get the car fixed and pay your medical bills. If the accident resulted in a totaled car, you may also have to pay all or part of the cost of buying a new vehicle. However, many less obvious financial consequences exist as well. For example, if you are injured and cannot work, you may lose income. You may also have to pay for physical therapy if you are having trouble recovering from your injuries or spend money on psychiatric treatment if the accident caused emotional trauma.

Because of the high costs associated with being the victim of a collision, it is wise to seek the help of a car accident attorney if you’re involved in a crash. These lawyers are trained in evaluating and litigating personal injury claims. They can help you determine if the other party is legally responsible for the accident. If this is the case, your car accident lawyer can help you file a lawsuit to attempt to obtain monetary damages from the other driver or his or her insurance company. These damages can cover anything from your medical bills to lost wages to the cost of buying a new car.

Tips on Sharing the Road with Semi Trucks

by Arthur Elk

Driving next to an 18-wheeler or other large semi truck can be scary, especially for new drivers or those driving very small vehicles. The drivers of these 18-wheeler trucks have large blind spots to the right and rear of the vehicle. There are additional, smaller blind spots on the right front corner and mid-left side of the semi truck.

Driving in these blind spots can be quite dangerous because the driver of the truck may not see you and attempt to merge lanes. If this happens and you get in an accident, you should consult with a car accident lawyer to determine if the driver of the semi truck was at fault. If you’re driving on a highway and drive up right next to a semi truck, it’s good practice to pass the truck quickly, but within the speed limit, to minimize the risk of driving in one of the truck’s blind spots.

You should also be careful not to be too close to a truck when it is reversing. Because of the truck’s large size, it is more difficult for the driver to reverse, and doing so may take several tries. If a semi truck hits you while reversing, you should seek the advice of a car accident lawyer to determine if you can get compensated for the accident. If the truck driver is liable, you may be able to get a settlement for any injuries and property damage that you sustain in the accident.

Share the Road

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers these tips to motorists:

  • Leave more space for trucks and buses. Truck and bus drivers leave extra room behind the vehicles they follow because it can take them twice as long as a car to stop. 
  • Pay attention – don’t get distracted. Stay focused! Using cell phones, navigation devices and even laptops while driving makes the roadways more dangerous. 
  • Avoid the "No Zone"Stay out of the “No Zone.” Drivers of large commercial vehicles must react faster than car drivers in emergency situations due to the size and weight of their truck or bus. Truck and bus drivers have huge blind spots around the front, back and sides of their vehicles, otherwise known as the No-Zone. Be safe and don’t hang out in the No-Zone.
  • Stay Alert. Pay close attention to the side effects of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Coupled with fatigue or a distraction, prescription or over-the-counter drugs can be dangerous on the road, and potentially deadly.
  • Wear your seatbelt. Buckling your seatbelt is the single most important thing you and your passengers can do to save your lives in a crash. Be safe and always buckle up!