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What happens in Ohio if you get in an accident without insurance?

Every driver is required to carry the state minimum of auto insurance – but not everybody does. Auto insurance can be prohibitively expensive, and with poor driving histories, these prices can be even more looming.

The Insurance Information Institute found that slightly over 17% of Ohio drivers lack insurance for one reason or another. If you’re one of the 17% and get into an accident on the road, what does that mean for you? Here are the basics that you need to know:

You will be penalized by the state

If you’re involved in an automobile accident, and cannot provide proof of financial responsibility (insurance) either on the scene or shortly after, you will face certain penalties.

If this is your first offense, your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and plates will be confiscated and suspended until you obtain insurance and provide proof that you have the state minimum required insurance coverage. You will also have to pay a reinstatement fee or fees, which can cost up to $600. Plus, you will probably be required to carry an SR-22, which is “high-risk” insurance for several years, which adds to the costs.

Subsequent offenses can cause you to lose your license for a year or more, and you may face additional court-imposed penalties.

You still have a right to compensation

Despite the other penalties you may face, Ohio is an at-fault state when it comes to insurance coverage and auto accidents. That means if you are the victim of another driver’s negligence, you have the right to seek fair compensation from that driver within two years of the accident, (which is Ohio’s statute of limitations on car accident claims), regardless of having personal auto insurance or not. Fair compensation can include:

  • Economic damages, such as your accident-related medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other tangible, financial losses.
  • Non-economic damages, such as your pain and suffering, lost enjoyment of life, and the emotional and social impact of scars or other permanent injuries.

In rare cases, punitive damages, which are designed to punish a driver for acts that are grossly negligent or deliberate acts, may be possible. Punitive damages are more likely to be awarded in cases similar to drunk driving or road rage.

You have the right to seek compensation as long as you are not 51% or more at fault for the accident or your injuries. However, you should generally expect an uphill battle as you try to obtain a fair settlement. If you had personal auto insurance, they would generally cover some of your immediate losses, such as your initial medical bills and car repair or replacement costs, then subrogate and reclaim their losses from the at-fault party later.

Without personal auto insurance, you will not have immediate relief from medical bills and having your car repaired. The at-fault party’s insurance company may use that fact to pressure you into accepting an unfair settlement that is significantly lower than what you actually deserve.

If you made a mistake with obtaining insurance coverage and ended up in an accident, don’t let your troubles become compounded. Experienced legal guidance can protect your interests with the insurance company (and the state) and help you get your life back on track.