Have you been injured in a car accident in Atlanta where the person responsible didn’t have insurance? If so, getting compensation may be more complicated than you think. However, the skilled Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Hasner Law are here to help.
Our Atlanta law firm strives to make sure that drivers are able to collect compensation against both uninsured and underinsured motorists. Give us a call today for a free no-obligation consultation.
Overview of Uninsured Motorists in Georgia
As you may know, all drivers in Georgia must have automobile insurance to legally drive on state roadways. Further, there are certain minimum limits for liability that must be maintained. Specifically, a driver’s policy must cover bodily injuries at a level of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence. There must also be $25,000 in property damage coverage per occurrence.
Keep in mind that driving without liability insurance or with insufficient coverage is considered a misdemeanor. This offense is punished with fines up to $1,000 and a maximum of 12 months in jail. However, just because insurance is required does not mean that all drivers comply with this rule. In fact, studies have shown that around 12% of Georgia drivers do not have automobile coverage.
Now, there can be situations that complicate these matters even more. For example, it could be the case that the at-fault driver has a policy that complies with the minimum coverage limits, but this may not be enough to fully compensate you for your injuries.
Or, a motorist may be responsible for a collision and then flee the scene. Cases of insufficient coverage and those with hit-and-runs drivers can be particularly complex, so it’s best to reach out to a personal injury attorney if you are involved in either of these types of accidents.
Filing a Lawsuit Against the Uninsured Driver
With that in mind, in the event that a driver is uninsured, one option you have is to file a claim against the person directly. Note that some states are considered “no-fault” which means you must go through your own insurance and cannot sue the other driver. However, Georgia is not a no-fault state and does not follow these requirements.
That said, these cases proceed just like an ordinary personal injury or property damage lawsuit. If you are successful in your claim, you may be awarded money to pay for the damages to your car, your medical bills, any wages you lost, plus amounts that represent the pain and suffering you endured.
In limited cases, you may also be able to get what are known as punitive damages. These require the other driver to have behaved in some reckless manner, such as driving drunk. Bear in mind that these are not a standard award and require substantial evidence of wrongdoing. The damages can get quite large and would be above and beyond your ordinary compensation.
Now, it’s important to realize that collecting on these judgments may be difficult. Often drivers that do not carry insurance have few assets. This means that they are considered “judgment proof” under the law, and you will be unable to collect much (if any) of your award from them.
Likewise, hit-and-run cases can also provide a number of hurdles for injured drivers. If you can’t track down the motorist, there is no one to file suit against. This means that without a policy that covers scenarios like these you will not be able to receive any compensation.
How Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage Can Help
In order to better protect yourself, you may consider enrolling in uninsured motorist coverage (UM) or underinsured motorist coverage (UIM). Note that this is optional and not required by law. Further, keep in mind that you must have this insurance in place before the accident occurs in order to be covered.
That said, these types of policies provide a number of benefits. Specifically, they cover:
- Drivers without car insurance
- Drivers with insurance but not enough to cover damages
- Hit and run drivers that can’t be identified, or
- Unidentified, uninsured, or underinsured drivers that injure you while you are walking or cycling.
Now, there are two types of UM/UIM insurance that you may have, traditional and add-on. With traditional coverage, the policy will only pay up to your limits regardless of how much the underinsured motorist’s policy covers.
For example, let’s say that you have $100,000 in coverage and the other driver has a $50,000 at-fault limit. If the driver causes an accident that leaves you with $200,000 in damages, you would only be entitled to $100,000 under this policy. Here, $50,000 would be based on the other driver’s policy and $50,000 would come from your own uninsured coverage. You would then be on the hook for the remaining $100,000.
But, with add-on coverage, your policy will pay out up to its maximum regardless of the other driver’s limits. Using the same example from above, you would get $50,000 based on at-fault coverage from the other driver, plus $100,000 from your own uninsured policy limit. This would total $150,000 and you would be left with $50,000 to deal with out-of-pocket.
As you can see, auto insurance policies can be complicated and often difficult to understand. For that reason, you may consider reaching out to an experienced car accident attorney in Atlanta if you have questions regarding the extent of your coverage for these types of accidents.
Collision and Medical Payments Insurance
Another option that can help in these cases is collision insurance. Like uninsured/underinsured coverage, collision is optional. It provides the repair or replacement cost for your vehicle after a crash and applies regardless of who is deemed at fault for the accident.
There is also medical payments insurance (Med Pay coverage) that is available to drivers. This is sometimes referred to as personal insurance protection (PIP) and is a type of optional coverage that can pay for things like medical bills and funeral expenses following an accident. It offers coverage to both drivers and passengers and acts similar to health insurance. Medical payments insurance is considered no-fault and is limited to only car accidents.
Challenges With Uninsured Motorist Claims
While having one or more of these policy options in place may give you peace of mind, you could encounter difficulties with your insurance company after an accident. This is because insurers rarely prioritize the interests of their policyholders. Instead, they are eager to settle the claim as quickly and cheaply as possible. For this reason, if you feel that you are not getting offered the compensation you deserve, reach out to a qualified attorney for assistance.
How Can an Attorney Help When The Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
As you can see, these types of cases can be complex. However, at Hasner Law, we are here to help. Our law firm has extensive experience with automobile accident claims and we know how to handle tough negotiations with insurance companies. In fact, our lawyers have been doing this for more than 80 years combined.
We will fully investigate your claim and determine who should and can be held financially responsible for your injuries. If necessary, we will file suit against the responsible party directly and take steps to make sure that you collect on any judgment amount that is owed to you.
It’s important to not feel pressured to settle these matters too quickly. Calculating damages in a car accident case can be complicated, particularly as long-term injuries may not manifest themselves right away. You want to make sure that all of your medical bills and rehabilitation costs are covered.
In cases where an insurance company does not take your claim seriously, we will handle this process for you. If necessary, we will bring the matter to trial.
Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers Today
Don’t delay – you only have a limited amount of time in which to file a claim. This is referred to as the statute of limitations and it seriously impacts your ability to receive compensation. The timeframe is two-years for injuries and four-years for property damage. Failure to file by the deadline can result in you losing your right to insurance coverage.
Even if you are not at risk of missing the deadline, there is a good reason to move forward with these matters as soon as possible. This is because the longer you wait after you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver, the more difficult it becomes to gather the evidence necessary to establish your claim. Call us today for a free consultation and learn more.