After 20 years of paying for auto insurance, including significant premiums for uninsured motorist protection, Fred was seriously injured by a drunk, uninsured driver. He had medical bills to pay as well as his regular family obligations for his mortgage, groceries, etc. He was off work for 3 months and had a permanent injury. Where should he turn when the driver that caused the crash is uninsured?
Uninsured motorist coverage is there to protect people like Fred when they are injured by an uninsured driver. Unfortunately, many insurance companies try to make it difficult for injured motorists to make their claim. Often the insurance company, knowing how desperate this situation is, will offer a very low settlement in the hope that their insured driver will take it. What happens if you refuse to accept a low offer made by your own insurance company?
In Ohio and most states, insured drivers injured by an uninsured motorist have the right to sue their own insurance company to recover all the damages they could have recovered from the uninsured driver that hit them. Often these insurance companies hit back hard and refuse to pay. They will immediately take the side of the drunk driver against their own insured and try to prove the drunk driver was not really at fault. If that doesn’t work, Fred’s own insurance company will try to minimize his damages, and try to convince a jury to give a low verdict amount even though Fred has faithfully paid premiums for 20 years. Fred is now the enemy to be vanquished at all costs.
Fortunately, Ohio lets juries decide how much money the insurance company should pay. This certainly levels the playing field against those insurance companies trying to avoid their contractual responsibility. Most jurors don’t like insurance companies denying claims and making low offers. Most jurors don’t like insurance companies taking the side of the drunk driver over their own injured motorist. Jurors don’t like this conduct by insurance companies because most jurors know that next time it could be their own insurance company trying to deny their valid claims.
If you aren’t happy with what your insurance company is offering, fight back. You have a right to a trial by jury.