Georgia Uninsured Motorist Lawyers
An estimated 12 percent of Georgia motorists are uninsured, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). This means that nearly one in eight drivers did not even carry the state’s legally-required minimum coverage.
This coverage includes:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $25,000 per accident for property damage.
When motorists are uninsured or underinsured, they lack the appropriate coverage to compensate you if you are severely injured in a collision. This is especially true if there are multiple occupants in the vehicle or if several vehicles are involved in the crash. The losses can quickly exceed the limits on a policy with the bare minimum coverage. If the person is uninsured, they may have little or nothing to compensate the victims if the collision is their fault.
Fortunately, drivers who carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UI/UM) on their insurance policy can protect themselves in the event of a crash. While this coverage exists to compensate drivers and passengers who are hurt in a collision with a financially irresponsible driver, it is not always easy to get the full amount you need from your policy.
With the help of an experienced uninsured/underinsured motorist attorney like those at Spaulding Injury Law, you could get the maximum amount of compensation under your policy. Contact us by phone, fill out a contact form, or chat with us live on our website to discuss your legal options during a free consultation.
What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Generally, when you are in an accident, and it is the other driver’s fault, then their auto insurance will compensate you for your medical bills, damage to your property, and other losses.
When an uninsured motorist hits you – or you are the victim of a hit-and-run driver – you may find that you have to pay out of your own pocket.
To avoid this, you can add uninsured motorist coverage to your auto insurance policy, which may (depending on your policy) cover:
- Uninsured Motorist Property Damage: This would cover damage to your vehicle.
- Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury: This coverage pays the medical bills that you incur as a result of the crash. In some cases, it can also extend to passengers in the car.
Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required in Georgia?
Uninsured motorist coverage is not required in the state of Georgia. Even though it is not required, it is wise to add the coverage to your policy. It can save you from paying out-of-pocket for costly vehicle damage and medical bills.
Georgia uninsured motorist laws do require companies to offer the coverage, so it may already be included in your policy unless you have explicitly rejected the coverage in writing.
What Is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
If an underinsured motorist hits you, it is possible that they have a policy that cannot cover the full cost of damage to your car or your medical bills. Having underinsured motorist coverage on your policy can help to cover the gap that the other person’s insurance cannot meet.
Minimum coverage in Georgia amounts to:
- $25,000 per person if they are injured in the wreck
- $25,000 per accident for vehicle damages
- $50,000 total for bodily injury in a collision
Many Georgia drivers only carry these minimum coverage amounts, which may not pay for all of your medical bills if you are severely injured, or if there are multiple people and vehicles involved in the accident. UIM coverage is intended to supplement the at-fault driver’s coverage to help cover more of your losses.
Is Underinsured Motorist Coverage Required in Georgia?
Just like uninsured motorist coverage, you are not required to carry underinsured motorist coverage in Georgia. If you decide to add it to your policy, it may be bundled together with uninsured driver coverage. Check with your insurance agent to learn more and to negotiate the best rates for these types of coverage.
Why You Need UM/UIM Coverage
UM/UIM coverage is a necessity if you want to protect yourself as much as possible while you are out on the road.
These coverages come in handy for many reasons, including:
- If you are in a hit-and-run accident and the other driver cannot be identified, you can use your policy to help with vehicle damage or injuries.
- Uninsured drivers more than likely will not have the financial resources to pay out-of-pocket for any injuries or damage they cause as a result of the accident.
- Minimum insurance coverage likely will not pay for everything that you will need after an accident.
- If you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver while walking or cycling, you could file a claim against your auto insurance policy.
- The coverage will apply to you, your spouse, children, or anyone using your vehicle with your express permission.
Collision insurance only covers damage to your car, so if you are wondering if you need UM/UIM coverage even with collision coverage, the answer is yes.
The coverage provided by collision insurance will not cover any of your medical bills or doctor visits as a result of the accident, and you could be looking at large bills to pay back without the assistance of UM/UIM coverage.
What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt in an Accident with an Uninsured Driver
Once the police arrive, they can take witness statements and determine who was at fault. Georgia is a fault state, so some responsibility must be assigned after any crash. Our state also uses the modified comparative negligence doctrine, which means you have to prove that you are less than 50 percent responsible for the accident to be declared not-at-fault. The officers who respond to the scene will often perform a preliminary investigation and will create an accident report. In certain circumstances, they will issue citations or arrest a driver if it is warranted.
Police reports also make it easier to go through the claims process with your insurance company.
Here are some other dos and don’ts to keep in mind if you get in an accident with an uninsured driver:
DO NOT — Accept any money from them. They may try to offer you money on the spot to avoid getting anyone else involved, but you will not yet know how much money you need to fix your car or have personal injuries assessed. Wait to find out exactly how much damage has been done before you ever accept any payment.
DO — Obtain their contact information. Do not just write down their address and phone number, as they could give you false information. Record the license plate number and the VIN number of their vehicle as well.
DO NOT — Admit fault. After a crash, never admit fault, even if you feel you might have made an error. Don’t make any statements that could be construed as an apology, including saying sorry for the damage to someone’s vehicle or injuries they’ve suffered. Any comments like these could be used to diminish your case.
DO — Get additional details. You will want to note the make, model, and year of their vehicle, as well as the time and place the accident happened. You will feel frazzled at that time and may have trouble remembering everything later. You also need to write down the responding officer’s name and badge number in case you need to get in touch with them.
What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt in an Accident with an Underinsured Driver
If you are involved in an accident with a driver who does have insurance, you should still follow the same steps as with an uninsured driver. Do not accept money from them, call the police, and get all the details you need to file with your insurance company.
You may not find out until after the fact that they are underinsured, so you will need all the possible contact information for them that you can get. Again, a police report is essential in this case to help determine fault.
Once you find out that their insurance will not pay enough to cover the damage to your vehicle or your medical bills, you do have the right to file a lawsuit against them personally. However, most people do not have the assets to cover a judgment even if you are able to obtain one.
In most cases, the best option is to pursue a claim with your auto policy’s UIM coverage.
Why You Need a Lawyer Even When Dealing with Your Insurer
After an auto accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you should reach out to an experienced uninsured motorist accident attorney right away. Even though you will be dealing with your own insurance company, it is crucial to have qualified legal representation on your side. This is because the insurance company is still a business, and businesses have a duty to their shareholders to make as much money as possible. This often means denying or underpaying claims, even for their own policyholders.
With an uninsured/underinsured attorney working for you, you won’t have to battle insurance company representatives by yourself. Your attorney will handle all the legal legwork, including investigating the crash, reviewing your policy, building a strong claim, and negotiating for the fair amount that you’re owed based on the coverage you’ve purchased.
Frequently Asked Questions About Uninsured Motorist Accidents
At our Atlanta law firm, we often are asked questions about uninsured motorist accidents and details about insurance coverage, including: