Monday, August 14, 2017
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Governor Kasich signs “Annie’s Law”
On January 4, 2017, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed HB 388, known as “Annie’s Law”. The new law, which will go into effect on April 4th, 2017, is named after Ohio Attorney Annie Rooney, who was killed on July 4th, 2013 in Chillicothe, Ohio as the result of an accident with a repeat drunk driving offender who went left of center.
Annie’s Law focuses on increased use of ignition interlock devices for those who have been convicted of driving under the influence and are given driving privileges. An interlock system requires the driver to blow in to a breathalyzer machine installed on the driver’s vehicle. If any alcohol is detected, the vehicle will not start.
The law increases first time minimum license suspensions from 6 months to 1 year. However, at the discretion of the court, the license suspension can be reduced to 6 months if an ignition interlock system is used. As increased incentive for use of an ignition interlock system when granting driving privileges, Annie's Law allows for unlimited driving privileges when the system is in place. Until now, Ohio law limited driving for only vocational, educational, and medical needs.
According to MADD, states with the strongest ignition interlock laws, such as West Virginia and New Mexico which require them for all drunk driving offenders, have seen reductions in drunk driving deaths by 50 and 38 percent, respectively.
In addition to increased license suspension minimums and an expansion of driving privileges when using an ignition interlock system, the new Ohio law also expands the look back period for increased penalties from six to ten years. This means a repeat offender will face increased penalties if they have a prior DUI/OVI in the last ten years, as opposed to six years under current Ohio law.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
“Fair Share” Subrogation Becomes Law
One of the many issues facing a person injured in an automobile accident is the medical bills associated with treatment for their injuries. Most people have health insurance which will generally cover medical treatment. However, most people do not know that if they receive any compensation from the person at fault in the accident, their health insurance provider has a right of subrogation or reimbursement for the medical bills they paid. In its simplest terms, this means the health insurance provider is entitled to recover what they paid out for medical care from their insured (the injured person).
Subrogation has greatly complicated settlement of personal injury claims because it is another entity with their “hand out” looking to get part of the money. This is especially so as more and more insurance companies make low ball offers in pre-lawsuit settlement negotiations.
Further difficulty is encountered when fault for the accident isn’t totally clear. In Ohio, and injured person may generally recover as long as they are less than 50% at fault in causing the accident. The amount of recovery is reduced by the percentage the injured person was at fault. For example, if the injured person obtains a judgment for $100,000 against the person primarily causing the accident, but the jury determines the injured person was 30% at fault, they would only recover $70,000. This comparative fault reduction created the issue of whether the subrogated medical insurance company should be allowed to collect the total amount of bills they paid on behalf of the injured person despite the reduction?
Ohio recently passed the “Fair Share” law (Ohio Rev. Code § 2323.44) effectively requiring a subrogated medical insurer to reduce the amount of their subrogated interest by the same proportion that the injured person’s claim was reduced due to their percentage of fault in causing the accident. So, in the above example, a medical insurance provider could only collect 70% of what they paid on behalf of the injured person.
This may not seem like a big deal, but when fighting against large insurance corporations who’s only objective is profit, it is nice to see some common sense legislation on behalf of the injured.