Ohio has a statute that governs the uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is a contract between you and your insured. It is a contract that is governed by an Ohio statute and that statute says the contract may include terms requiring the claim be made within 3 years.
However, with respect to uninsured motorist coverage, there are landmines to look out for. I never recommend someone to file their own uninsured motorist claim. In Ohio the statute of limitations for negligence is two years to file a claim. Since you have to ask your insurance company for permission to release the uninsured driver, you have to make sure to pursue the other driver within the two-year statute of limitations window. If you let the two years pass, your carrier will deny you. At that point, the insurance carrier would not be able to go after the other driver if they wanted to get their money back. You didn’t comply with the policy and sue the other driver within 2 years, so they’re not going to allow you to make an uninsured motorist claim.
For an underinsured claim, you still have to pursue the at-fault party within the statute of limitations for negligence. I personally incorporate a blanket rule for both uninsured and underinsured motorist policies. I make sure to file both within two years.
You are always filing a claim against the other driver. However, their insurance company is indemnifying them. For instance, if I am insured by ABC Insurance Company, and I am at fault for an accident, you’re bringing the claim against me. ABC Insurance Company insures me, so they pay the claim. If there’s no ABC Insurance Company and you’re pursuing me individually, then you’re going to have to determine if I’m collectible.
Most people are not collectible. Furthermore, by the time you get a judgment against somebody, they might not be collectible at that time. As a practical matter, there are very few cases in which you are able to recover from a person when someone is uninsured. If the person who is at fault files for bankruptcy, they can protect themselves from a judgment against them. I always give the example of some very famous people who had a judgment against them. The victims pursue them for 20 years to try to get their assets. That requires a lot of time and even more court costs. As a practical matter, it is nearly impossible.
If someone has a business, the business can file for bankruptcy and go out of business. Maybe then you can try to get some assets out of the business. If the business doesn’t exist anymore, and those assets were transferred, you have that limitation. It’s very difficult as a practical matter.
Personal injury protection is not required in Ohio. Instead, the state has something called medical payments coverage. Medical payments coverage is similar to personal injury protection. You can purchase medical payments coverage. It’s a separate part of your policy. You can use it to pay medical bills that were incurred as a result of an accident. Some medical payments policy go as high as $100,000. Generally, I mostly see medical payments policies between $1 and $5,000. It purely pays for medical bills, and not lost wages or pain and suffering. If you’ve been in an accident, they usually pay with no questions asked.
The catch is if your insurance company pays the medical payments coverage, then they are entitled to reimbursement from the at fault party. In that case, you would pursue the medical payments coverage and they would pay the bills. Then, you would recover from the other driver’s insurance company. You must reimburse your policy the medical payments coverage. That’s called subrogation. Not every state has subrogation.