I thought of titling this piece "Underinsured Motorist Coverage, The Narrow View fits Narrow Minds", but really I couldn't because in reality it just sucks to be a Buckeye. Don’t mind me the only thing I’ve ever done in Ohio was to drive across it on I-80 for spring break and the summer semester from the University of Iowa. That was back in the 1970's. Since then I've graduated from college, attended law school and gone on to become a lawyer; thereafter I decided to remain in Iowa and become a Hawkeye.

Air Force senior airman, Danielle N. Brinser from Ottumwa, Iowa ...

... Air Force senior airman, Danielle N. Brinser from Ottumwa, Iowa killed in Ohio mva crash. ... And may you rest in peace Danielle Brinser. ...

Ottumwa, Iowa native Danielle N. Brinser, 20, a senior airman at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was killed when trying to cross Ohio 444 on a green light. The other vehicle failed to stop and yield at the intersection light. The other car was driven by Nicholas C. Hart, 23 who failed to stop for the red light and struck Brinser’s Toyota.

So what have I learned since the mid 70’s about Ohio that might change my mind about it aside from its lack of choices in radio stations. Not much that I like, that’s for sure. After I wrote a blog about a young up-and-coming Air Force cadet killed in Ohio the parents asked me to look into the accident and deal with the insurance companies involved. What I found out didn't change my thinking about why I wouldn't want to live in Ohio. In this instance what I learned simply added to the list.

My client’s daughter was 20 years old when she died because another driver, the at-fault driver didn’t stop at the intersection she was coming through. She got t-boned, that’s a broadside collision, with such impact that it simply smashed her skull and brain instantly killing her.

WITNESS ACCOUNT: At approx. 1:05 pm as I was returning to base I witnessed an accident involving a blue jeep and a silver passenger car. I was at the light coming from 844 to 444 in the left lane. The light turned green and I proceeded then within seconds noticed a jeep traveling to fast to stop at the red light and immediately heard an impact. When I looked in my rearview mirror I knew that I needed to turn around because someone was hurt. I arrived and asked questions to the blue jeep in the middle of the road, he seemed ok. Went to the other side and a group of about 4 others to check on the people in the other car. The passenger was conscious but the driver was out. Called 911 and talked to the passenger.

That driver was my clients' child. She had purchased an auto policy with USAA, that’s the insurance company providing coverage to a whole lot of servicemen and women. You know the same ones who fight for freedom and the American way. The policy provided the minimum limits of insurance that you can buy under Ohio law - $12,500.00. The other guy, the at-fault driver had the same – another whopping $12,500. In Ohio that's what legislators call being financially responsible. I call it making money by hiding behind the ignorance of young people.

Now you’re probably thinking her parents and her estate get a lousy $25,000.00 to bury her and to pay the medical bills. Well you’re wrong. For all of her losses and those of her parents along with her twin sister, auto insurance provided a whopping $12,500 in coverage. Yeah the entire auto insurance settlement is $12,500. I've seen medical bills to fix broken legs costing $100,000, so how can $12,500 ever be considered financially responsible? The required coverage isn't just pathetic it's a disgusting display of arrogance by the Ohio legislature towards the electorate.

I wish it were as simple as saying Steve Lombardi is a lousy lawyer and he has to be wrong; but I'm not and it’s not. I actually do know the law and even confirmed this interpretation of Ohio law with my colleague Nick DiCello at Spangenberg Shibley & Liber. Nick is a good lawyer, who cares a lot about his clients so I trust his opinion. His firm's research confirmed that this is the state of Ohio auto insurance law concerning underinsured motorist coverage.

I will admit to having a difficult time believing any legislature could say $12,500 minimum limits coverage for operating anything that can kill is financially responsible, but they did. It’s hard for me to appreciate how men and women get elected to public office with such low financial IQ’s, but apparently in Ohio they do. It makes me wonder if after this law passed they didn’t all go out for a big drunk fest with the insurance executives who came up with this slick way to make a ton of money off of voters they must consider to be a bunch of poor dumb suckers.

Nick's research showed the law wasn't always so stingy. In the past the Ohio Supreme Court's interpretation would have allowed the UDM coverage to be added onto the underlying coverage to more fully compensate the victim. But the Ohio Legislature pass a law that nullified the Supreme Court's decision, essentially removing your right to be properly compensated and allowing your insurance companies to sell you worthless insurance. If you’re wondering who did this to you and who isn’t representing Ohioans just visit the Ohio House of Representatives.

The Ohio Legislature joined hands with the wealthy insurance industry and said to the Ohio Supreme Court’s broader interpretation, “Na-nah-na-nah – for the dead in Ohio - they get nothing.” More porridge sir? Can we have more porridge please sir?

IT REALLY SUCKS BEING A BUCKEYE

Here is what your Ohio legislature allows insurance companies and at-fault drivers to get away with in Ohio. The at-fault driver can cause an accident in which the other driver dies and all his insurance company has to pay is $12,500. He can take a car weighing several thousands of pounds, drive over one-hundred-miles-per hour, run a stop light, hit your car so hard he separates your brain from your spinal cord and then show up with $12,500 and be done with you. Really I'm not kidding.

So what's my current thinking about Ohio? Not much has changed in Ohio since the 1970's.

Tomorrow let's discuss how this insurance you'll probably never get to collect on is something the insurance industry is taking out of your wallet every month. They probably need it for continued campaign contributions with legislators like these in Ohio.

Until then stay safe, stay warm and stay off of the roads in Ohio.

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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