Can I Lose My House Due to an At-Fault Car Accident in Ohio?

Can I Lose My House Due to an At-Fault Car Accident in Ohio

After a car accident in Ohio, the driver who caused the crash is deemed at fault. Car accidents are always stressful, but the stress grows much greater if you’re the at-fault driver. 

In addition to concerns like vehicle damage and injuries, you may be worried about the financial implications. Unfortunately, losing your house and other assets is possible if you’ve caused an Ohio car crash.

The good news is that causing a crash doesn’t have to result in serious consequences like losing your home. In this situation, you should understand when your home might be at risk and what steps you can take to protect it. 

Understanding Ohio’s At-Fault Car Accident Laws

State laws differ when it comes to determining who pays for car accident expenses. Some states follow no-fault accident laws, which means who caused the crash isn’t a primary concern. Vehicle damage and injuries are covered under every driver’s policy, regardless of why the crash happened. 

Unfortunately for Ohio drivers, Ohio is an at-fault state. This means that fault for the crash is a central concern with significant repercussions. 

The driver responsible for causing the accident is also responsible for covering the resulting damages. This includes property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering of the other drivers and passengers involved. 

If, like many drivers, you only carry liability coverage, your driver’s insurance pays for the other person’s injury expenses but does nothing to help with yours. 

As if that’s not stressful enough, things get really serious when your insurance policy limits don’t cover the other person’s injury costs. At this point, you’re at risk of losing your home and other assets.  

How Ohio Car Accident Insurance Coverage Limits Put Your Home at Risk

Some car accidents result in serious injuries or even wrongful deaths. If the other person was killed in the crash or suffered life-altering injuries, like a brain injury or spinal injury, there’s a good chance your coverage limits won’t fully cover the injury costs. When that happens, you become personally liable for the remaining costs.  

The minimum liability coverage Ohio drivers are required to carry is:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person 
  • $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
  • $25,000 for property damage per accident

These minimums can quickly be exceeded in a severe accident. Suppose the other driver suffers a spinal injury that leaves them unable to ever return to work and in need of lifelong attendant care and multiple future surgeries. 

Factors like their age, state of health, and number of dependents also come into play when determining how much compensation they’re owed for damages like future wages. It’s easy to see how $25,000 doesn’t come close to covering the lifelong expenses that result from a serious injury. 

When the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage falls short, they can be held responsible for the difference. One option is to pay out-of-pocket, but most people don’t have hundreds of thousands — or millions — of dollars in the bank. 

When you can’t afford to pay the remainder of the injury costs, the injured party can file a lawsuit against you. If successful, they may be able to walk away with your house, vehicles, bank account holdings, and anything else you have of value.

How to Protect Your Ohio Home After an At-Fault Crash 

If you’ve been involved in an Ohio car crash, the best way to protect yourself is to say as little as possible and involve an Ohio car accident attorney as soon as you can. Anything you say to witnesses, the other driver, the police, or an insurance agent can later be used against you to establish fault. 

Things you can do to help your case include: 

  • Don’t admit fault for the crash
  • Don’t apologize for the crash
  • Don’t argue about who caused the crash
  • Don’t speak with an insurance agent
  • Don’t post about the accident on social media
  • Consult an Ohio car accident lawyer immediately

In some cases, a skilled car accident lawyer may be able to help prove that you shouldn’t be held responsible for causing the accident. In other cases, avoiding fault entirely is impossible. 

For example, when an intoxicated driver causes a crash, it’s difficult to claim they weren’t at fault. However, a lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of the case. 

How an Ohio Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

Ohio uses a comparative negligence system to determine fault in a car crash. This means that if a lawyer can prove you were 49% or less at fault for the crash, you don’t have to pay for the damage. Even more importantly, whatever percent of fault can be ascribed to the other driver can be used to reduce the overall amount they recover. 

This is of huge importance if you’re in a situation where your home is at risk because your insurance coverage only covers part of the other driver’s injury costs. 

A lawyer will investigate the accident and work to build a case for how the other driver’s actions contributed to the accident. The higher the percentage of fault ascribed to the other driver, the less you’ll owe after insurance coverage is exhausted. 

Saving Your Home Through Ohio Property Exemptions

If you’re still left with personal liability for crash injuries, a lawyer can also help protect your home and other assets by taking advantage of Ohio’s property exemptions. If you lose a lawsuit against the other driver, exempt personal property that you can maintain possession of includes: 

  • A personal residence valued at $125,000 or less
  • Bank account holdings needed to pay your upcoming bills
  • A personal vehicle
  • Up to $525 in personal belongings
  • Up to $1350 in jewelry 
  • Up to $2025 in work-related belongings  

There are many ways in which an Ohio car accident lawyer can fight to help you after an Ohio car accident. They can work to disprove fault, argue for shared fault, and represent you during a lawsuit. 

If you still end up in debt to the other driver at the end of this process, an experienced lawyer can help ensure you take full advantage of property exemptions so you maintain ownership of your home and other assets.  

Call Our Ohio Car Accident Attorneys Today

Schiff & Associates is a personal injury firm located in Columbus, Ohio. Our Ohio car accident lawyers know how to obtain results for our clients. Don’t wait to fight for your finances after an Ohio car crash. Call Schiff & Associates to schedule a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer in Ohio.