On June 2, 2015, John R. Smith was driving a red Jeep with four other passengers in it. He ran a stop sign at Roosemoor Road where it intersects Old US 35 in Silvercreek Township in Greene County, Ohio and struck a black car, which itself had a driver and passenger. James Smith died as a result of the accident, and all six other people involved were injured.
WHIO is reporting that all six victims were taken to hospitals by MedFlight and ground ambulances. The conditions of the six victims were not available.
All six injured people may have difficulty recovering full compensation for their injuries (see legal commentary below).
Legal Analysis on Ohio Minimum Coverage
You may be wondering if you will be able to fully recover for your injuries if many other people are injured in the same accident. The insurance company may be telling you that your recovery may be limited due to multiple other victims being involved. It is true that multiple victims in the same accident can potentially cause reduced recoveries in some circumstances.
In Ohio, personal injury liability insurance on automobile insurance policies are normally split two ways: (1) the maximum payable under the policy to a single person, and (2) the maximum payable to all injured people in an incident. In Ohio, the law currently requires minimum insurance coverage in the amount of $25,000 per person, and $50,000 per accident. In other words, under such a policy, the insurance company will pay up to a maximum of $50,000 to those injured in a single accident, but will pay no more than $25,000 to any single person injured in the accident.
If an accident is caused by someone with these limits, the per-accident maximum will not come in to play unless at least three people are injured because the insurance company will not pay any more than $25,000 to any one person. If only two people are injured in the accident, the insurance company could potentially pay each injured person the $25,000/person limit without going over the $50,000/accident limit. However, when three or more people are injured, the insurance company would not pay $25,000/person because doing so would cause them to pay more than $50,000. Under such circumstances, the insurance company will typically attempt to pay out the settlements proportionally to the value of the cases.
Legal Commentary on the Above Accident
In the above case, six people could have a case against Mr. Smith: the 4 passengers in the red Jeep, the driver of the black car, and the passenger in the black car. If Mr. Smith had minimum limits for Ohio, they may all be forced to share the $50,000 limit on all injuries from all six victims in the accident. The insurance company will likely attempt to distribute this proportionally based on injuries if the policy limits are not high enough to fully compensate all victims. In many cases, the insurance company will not state their policy limits, so the injured may not know what is available.
The victims may also make a claim against their own insurance companies under a claim of underinsured motorist coverage if they had the coverage on their policies. This coverage applies when the at-fault driver’s policy is not sufficiently large to fully compensate the victim for his or her injuries. These policies frequently cover the insured person, even if they are not in their own vehicle, meaning that even the five passengers may be able to recover from their own auto-insurance company.
The six victims of this accident may want to consider seeking a licensed Ohio attorney to represent them for their injuries. This situation is complicated by the fact that, not only are the victims at odds with the at-fault insurance company to maximize their recovery, they are also potentially competing against five other victims for the same recovery, making it that much more difficult to recover full compensation for their injuries.
Alex Freitag is an Ohio personal injury lawyer. He offers a free consultation. To get his help call 937-306-6410 or 1-800-447-6548. Find out what it feels like to get help from a lawyer that cares.
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