Stephen Hasner | Car Accidents | November 27, 2019
Most states have what’s known as “no-fault” insurance rules. Simply put, this means that car accident victims have to seek compensation from their own insurance provider first, regardless of who is at fault for an accident. If damages exceed what the victims’ insurer will pay, additional compensation can be sought from the at-fault party and their insurer.
Georgia is not one of those states. That means that after an accident, you can immediately seek compensation from an at-fault driver’s insurance company. As a result, things can get complicated when the at-fault party does not have insurance.
What happens when you get into an accident with an uninsured driver in Atlanta? Can you still recover compensation for things like replacing damaged property, medical bills, and lost wages, even though the at-fault driver didn’t have insurance? Here’s what you need to know.
What Car Insurance Coverage Is Required in Georgia?
If you live in Georgia and own a car, the state requires you to purchase a car insurance policy. It doesn’t matter if you drive the car regularly or not. Insurance is mandatory.
Minimum Car Insurance Requirements
Under state laws, drivers have to carry the following minimum coverage:
- Bodily Injury Liability: $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident, and
- Property Damage Liability: $25,000 per accident.
Unfortunately, not everyone follows this important rule. In fact, approximately 12 percent of all drivers in Georgia are uninsured.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Georgia knows that not everyone buys a car insurance policy. That’s why insurance companies in Georgia are required to offer something called “Uninsured Motorist Coverage.” Uninsured Motorist Coverage, or UIM, can be used to cover the costs of an accident with someone who doesn’t have car insurance. You’re not legally required to purchase UIM, but you will have to decline the coverage in writing if you don’t want it.
How to Get Money After An Accident Involving an Uninsured Driver
There are three ways to potentially get money after a car accident involving an uninsured driver.
1. File a Claim With Your Insurance Company
Did you purchase uninsured motorist coverage? You can file a claim with your insurance company to recover those benefits. You’ll be able to recover benefits up to your policy maximum. So, if you purchased $25,000 in UIM, you can potentially get $25,000 in benefits.
If the driver was totally uninsured, you can recover up to your policy maximum. If the other driver was underinsured, you can recover the difference between what their insurer will pay and your damages, up to your policy maximum.
What if the costs of your car accident injuries exceed your policy limits? If that happens, you might have to consider legal action against the at-fault driver and/or other negligent third parties.
2. File a Lawsuit Against the Uninsured Driver
When you buy a car insurance policy, the benefits are available to compensate for damage caused by an accident. When a driver is at fault, your insurance policy can protect them from liability in a lawsuit. When a driver doesn’t have insurance, there’s no layer of protection. That driver can be sued for the harm and damage they’ve caused.
If you get into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against them. It’s important to consider that you might not be able to recover damages, even if you win your case. The at-fault driver might not have the assets or cash to satisfy a jury award. In that case, you might have to consider other courses of action.
3. File Claims Against Other At-Fault Parties
Make sure that your accident is investigated. Why? It’s important that you identify all liable parties. This way, you can seek compensation from anyone who contributed to your accident. Under Georgia’s comparative negligence rules, liability is apportioned to anyone who shares fault.
For example, let’s say that the uninsured driver is 50 percent responsible for your accident. An investigation reveals that your vehicle’s brakes were defective and contributed to the crash. So, the vehicle manufacturer is allocated 50 percent of the blame. That means the manufacturer is on the hook for half of your damages. Even if you can’t get much from the uninsured driver, you can still secure meaningful compensation from the car manufacturer. A comprehensive approach to your injury case can help to yield positive results.