For a number of years, the Supreme Court of Ohio held that if your damages warranted, you could collect both the full amount of your medical payments coverage and the full amount of your uninsured motorist coverage.
Let’s say you were injured by an uninsured motorist in an car accident, and incurred $5,000.00 in medical bills because of the accident. You had $5,000 in medical payments coverage, and $12,500 in uninsured motorist coverage on your auto policy.
In that case you could collect both the $5,000 on the medpay policy coverage and, if you convinced the insurance company that your claim against the uninsured motorist was worth more than $12,500, collect that too under your underinsured coverage. Total recovery: $17,500.00.
That’s changed. The Ohio Supreme Court, in 2009 case of State Farm v. Grace, held that the law now:
“permits an insurer to limit coverage so as to preclude payment pursuant to UM/UIM coverage for medical expenses that have previously been paid or are payable under the medical payment coverage in the same policy.”
In other words, your car insurance company doesn’t have to pay you benefits under both your medical payments coverage and under the uninsured policy. Under the example, you can now only recover a total of $12,500.00.
What can you do about this?
If your lawyer knows you’re going to have an uninsured motorist claim, he can have you turn your medical bills into your health insurer – the insurance you get through your job – rather than into the medical payments coverage that came with your car insurance. Your employment health insurance may be more likely to both pay your medical bills on a discount, and to be willing to settle for less of a “payback” when you do settle.
(Warning – this is not always a great idea. You may want to document high medical payments in order to be able to put that information in front of a jury. It’s a judgment call.)
The other thing your lawyer can do is ask your auto insurance company for a break – particularly if you don’t have enough uninsured motorist coverage to compensate you in full for the claim. If your uninsured motorist claim would be worth $100,000, but you only have $12,500 in coverage, they may be willing to work with you.
I’ve seen it happen.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. Sometimes, all you have to do to get a break is to ask for one. If you’ve been injured in an accident, talk with an experienced Cincinnati Personal Injury Lawyer about the case. Call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.