People don’t often think of it until after they have been in a serious one themselves, but motor vehicle accidents are expensive.

Aside from having to repair or replace his or her car, an accident victim may have hefty medical bills. Even an ambulance trip and an overnight stay can cost thousands of dollars, and someone with a serious injury may requires weeks or even months of hospital care.

Moreover, too often, an accident victim will find it difficult or impossible to return to their occupation, assuming that they are even able to work at all. For some types of injuries, it may even be necessary to pay for additional therapy and personal care.

Uninsured and underinsured motorists

Ohio law requires that every driver in this state carry some insurance coverage by which they can pay for any personal injuries they cause through their driving errors.

Unfortunately, not everyone follows this law. There are many uninsured drivers on the roads in and around Cleveland and the rest of Northern Ohio at any given time. On a related point, many other drivers will not stick around after an accident so they cannot be held responsible for losses.

Furthermore, the minimum coverage people must have is $25,000 per victim and $50,000 per accident. This simply won’t cut it in the case of many accidents.

For instance, a victim with a spinal cord injury will likely need over $1 million for medical and rehabilitative care alone.  This victim may try to hold the responsible party financially accountable only to find that they are able to collect $25,000, a mere drop in the bucket. The responsible driver, who is called underinsured, may otherwise be unable to pay and may even file bankruptcy.

Coverage for uninsured and underinsured motorists

An Ohio resident does not have to buy uninsured or underinsured coverage, but their car insurance company must offer them a chance to do so.  They should speak with their insurance agent about this coverage.

If they have both of these coverages, then their insurance company is promising them that, if they are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver, in the amount of coverage the person selected.

How this coverage works in a given situation can be complicated, but it should at least provide some additional financial support to an accident victim who would otherwise be stuck holding the bag.

Claiming this coverage

To get uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits, a victim will have to file an appropriate and timely claim with his or her own insurance company.

While one might think otherwise, the fact that one is dealing with his or her own insurance carrier is not going to entitle them to any special treatment.

The company will still hold the victim strictly accountable to prove his or her claim, and they will try to find legal and factual reasons to pay less. After all, insurance companies make their money when they collect more premium than they pay out in claims.

People therefore need to be ready to deal with their insurance carrier intelligently. They should also strongly consider having a personal injury attorney who knows the ins and outs of the insurance business assist them with evaluating their options and prosecuting their claims.