David P. Miraldi
For decades, Ohio law only requires a person to have a very minimal amount of liability coverage. Under current Ohio law, a person only needs to have liability coverage of $12,500 per person and $25,000 per occurrence to cover injury claims and $7,500 to cover property damage losses. This amount is terribly inadequate.
We all know that a trip to the emergency room after a car crash can involve extensive x-rays and CT scans. It is not unusual for an emergency room bill to end up between $5,000 to $7,500. How then can coverage for $12,500 be anywhere near enough to cover someone's medical bills for perhaps a year of treatment? Even if it provides enough for medical bills, there is not enough insurance coverage to compensate the person for lost wages or pain and suffering.
Why is the legislature so reluctant to increase the minimum limits? The insurance lobby does not want the limits to be higher. When an insurance company insures a high-risk driver for the minimum coverage, the insurance company's exposure is limited to that amount. These drivers cause a lot of accidents and when they do, they are usually significant crashes. The insurance company wants to limit its exposure to $12,500, write its check, and leave the injured person in the lurch for the remainder of the bills, harms, and losses.
The legislature is once again considering raising the minimum limits for auto coverage. H.B. 278 calls for an increase in liability coverage to $20,000 per person and $40,000 per occurrence for bodily injury claims and $15,000 for property damage claims. This is still inadequate for any significant injury claim, but it is a step in the right direction.
Please contact your state representative and state senator and urge them to support H.B. 278. Enacting the bill would make the people of Ohio just a little bit safer.
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