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Ohio's uninsured motorists put law-abiding drivers at risk

The aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming. When you're seeking treatment for injuries or trying to get your car repaired, added financial stress is the last thing you need. But recent data from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles shows that motorists in the Buckeye State may have reason to worry.

The number of drivers without insurance in Ohio has jumped more than 60 percent in the past ten years, with 1.1 million caught by the state in 2011. According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, the state's uninsured motorists caused more than 8,700 accidents in 2010. Drivers without insurance were at fault for three out of four accidents in which they were involved.

Ohio has required drivers to carry insurance for injuries and property damage for nearly sixty years. This law is meant to protect law-abiding motorists from the hefty financial consequences of serious car accidents.

Ohio has several enforcement measures in place to battle its uninsured motorist epidemic. For example:

  • Law enforcement officials ask to see drivers' proof of insurance at traffic stops.
  • If a motorist doesn't have their proof of insurance in the car, they must provide proof to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or in court.
  • When renewing license plates, Ohioans must check a box confirming that they are insured. This rule has come under criticism because vehicle owners needn't show any proof.
  • Each week the state contacts about 5,000 random motorists and asks them to verify their insurance coverage by mail.

Even with these measures, insurance requirements are difficult to enforce because there's no way to tell if a driver is adequately covered without asking to see proof. Unlike an expired license plate or a penchant for speeding, insurance isn't easily visible to law enforcement officials. A motorist can easily cruise past the requirement if he or she can avoid getting pulled over.

But an unexpected accident with an uninsured driver can leave an accident victim in the financial lurch. Even if you are fully insured you may be on the hook for co-pays and deductibles with no help from the other driver's insurer. Add the potential costs of replacing a car or missing work and it's easy to see the importance of insurance requirements.

Source: Columbus Dispatch, "More Ohio drivers are uninsured," Robert Vitale, Oct. 8, 2012

Our firm handles cases involving insurance claims after car accidents. For more information please visit our Uninsured and Underinsured Accidents page.

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