Being involved in a car accident can be challenging enough, especially if you experience painful injuries and your vehicle is damaged beyond repair. However, what can make it even worse is learning that in your car accident, the other driver has no insurance.
If you have found yourself in this very situation, you may not know what your next steps should involve. Keep reading to learn what to do in a Georgia car accident if the other driver has no insurance.
What Georgia Law Says About Automobile Insurance
First, a quick reminder of how Georgia auto insurance works.
The laws in Georgia are fairly straightforward. All Georgia drivers must have liability insurance to drive on public roads and highways in this state. This insurance type helps the at-fault driver pay damages owed to the person he or she hit. The minimum amount of coverage every driver in Georgia must have by law is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident.
Even though liability insurance is a legal requirement in Georgia, an estimated 12% of drivers do not have insurance. This can mean that if you are involved in a car accident, there is a chance that the collision will involve someone who doesn’t have any type of insurance to cover your accident-related costs.
Additionally, because Georgia only requires $25,000.00 worth of liability coverage, even if the at-fault driver has insurance, it may be minimum coverage that will not fully compensate you for your damages.
Being Involved in an Accident With an Uninsured Driver
What happens if the person at fault in an accident has no insurance. We’ll run through what options you have in this instance below.
File a Claim With the Driver
Georgia is not a no-fault state, which means that if you are involved in a car accident, you can sue the driver responsible for it regardless of whether or not he or she has auto insurance available to cover your claim. In saying that, suing an uninsured driver may not be worth your time and effort.
Even if you win your case, they are unlikely to have the assets to pay the judgment, which means you face the strong likelihood that you are still going to be out of pocket. As a result, this is never your best option but one you must know you have the legal right to ultimately pursue if the next option is not available.
File An Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage Claim
In Georgia, UM insurance is not compulsory, which means you do not have to purchase it to be legal on the road at the time of signing up for auto insurance. This type of insurance is in addition to your standard auto insurance policy. It provides a layer of protection if the at-fault party does not have insurance to cover your damages and would be on your auto insurance not the at-fault party’s.
If you have UM insurance coverage, you can receive a payout for any damages and injuries caused by an uninsured driver. It also means you receive payment to cover your costs against hit-and-run drivers. Like with liability insurance limits in Georgia, the minimum amount of UM coverage you can purchase is $25,000.00.
If you are unsure whether or not you purchased UM coverage, file a UM claim with your insurance company immediately after the wreck regardless. Worst case, your insurance company gets back to you to officially tell you, you have no UM coverage. Best case, you learn you did purchase UM coverage and at what level and will have some available insurance to pay you for your damages caused by the uninsured driver.
Talk to a Lawyer
A car accident can be one of the most stressful experiences of your life, particularly if you’re not sure what your rights are and what you should do to manage the entire situation. Because figuring out whether or not there is insurance coverage and how much can be complicated, it is always wise to speak to an auto accident attorney early after an injury accident. They can look at the insurance types you have and form some options for you based on what these are.
What About Underinsured Coverage?
There is another scenario you need to be mindful of beyond when you are hit by an uninsured driver. Sometimes, the at-fault party in a collision does have insurance; they just don’t have enough to cover your accident-related costs. To avoid being out of pocket, UM coverage can still come into play to protect you from not being fully compensated for your losses.
In this scenario, UM stands for Underinsured Motorist. This insurance bridges the gap between what your accident losses are and what the at-fault driver is able to pay through their insurance coverage.
For example, if your accident-related costs came to $150,000, and the other driver only had insurance for $50,000, you may find yourself with a $100,000 shortfall. Having underinsured coverage can ensure you’re not financially disadvantaged by your accident.
Underinsured motorist coverage situations are even more complicated to figure out than your uninsured motorist coverage scenario. If you are faced with an underinsured motorist coverage situation, it is absolutely essential you speak to a car accident lawyer who can help you figure out how the difference insurance policies work together to provide at total amount of available coverage.
What a Lawyer Can Do to Help
Being involved in a collision is likely going to be one of the most stressful and overwhelming experiences of your life. It may be made even more so if you don’t know what steps to take next. Contacting a personal injury lawyer in Georgia is likely your best bet to ensure you are not missing available insurance coverages that could help provide you with full compensation for your damages.
An experienced accident lawyer in Georgia can review accident reports to determine fault, interview eyewitnesses, communicate with the at-fault insurance company and your insurance company on your behalf, and gather evidence to strengthen your case.
An accident attorney can then review all available insurance policies to determine coverage levels for your accident, calculate your accident-related costs, and explain everything in great detail to put your mind at ease. Essentially, your lawyer can ensure that every rock is looked under for available insurance coverages and determine how those policies potentially combine to provide you with the maximum insurance coverage for your damages possible. You can therefore have peace of mind that nothing has been missed.
Even though auto insurance is a legal requirement in Georgia, that doesn’t mean any collision you are involved in will be with a driver who can afford to pay your accident-related costs. To avoid being out of pocket for an accident that wasn’t your fault, consider looking at your insurance policies and reach out to us at Spaulding Injury Law for advice.
For over 15 years, Mr. Spaulding has helped victims of negligence across the state of Georgia resolve personal injury disputes, and he’s received a remarkable number of awards and honors from the legal community recognizing his commitment to clients and to the metro-Atlanta area.
As an undergraduate, Mr. Spaulding belonged to the Phi Beta Kappa honors fraternity at the University of Georgia, and he obtained his legal training at the Georgia State College of Law, where he clerked for the Honorable Judge Rowland Barnes of the Fulton County Superior Court. Mr. Spaulding has also worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Atlanta Enforcement Division. Since 2005, he has dedicated his career to helping the injured victims of negligence and their loved ones win justice in Georgia’s personal injury courts.