After car accident in Georgia, the last thing you want to hear is that the other driver’s insurance won’t cover your costs — or, worse yet, that they are not insured at all. Because it is illegal to operate a vehicle without auto insurance in Georgia, most people assume that — in the event of an accident — their expenses should be paid for. Unfortunately, you may be surprised at just how many people drive without insurance or adequate insurance, throughout the United States and in Georgia.
According to recent data, about 13% of drivers in the United States are uninsured. That might not sound like much at first, but let’s put it in perspective. Statistically, one in eight drivers is uninsured. That means, for every eight drivers you pass on the road, at least one of them is likely driving without auto insurance. With numbers like that, the idea of getting in an auto accident in Georgia is even more frightening.
What To Do If An Uninsured Driver Hits You
After a car accident, most people assume that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will take care of all expenses. In a perfect world, that would absolutely happen. But unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Not only are there numerous uninsured motorists driving around, but you might also find that the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to pay for all of your damages.
Let’s say, for example, that your total damages—medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering—add up to $100,000, but the at-fault driver’s policy only had $25,000 available for bodily injury damages. In this case, you could get $25,000 from the negligent driver’s insurance company, but the insurance company would not have to pay the rest of your damages. So what can you do?
Fortunately, there are several options available to victims of car wrecks in Georgia. The other driver’s liability insurance is not the only possibility. Depending on your coverage and the circumstances of the crash, you might be able to get payment from:
Some of these may seem obvious, but others may surprise you. Let’s go through each of these payment options and how they might apply to your case.
Getting Payment Through Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)
Uninsured/under-insured motorist (UM) coverage isn’t included with every auto insurance policy, but every auto insurance company in Georgia must at least offer it. Basically, UM coverage is an added layer of protection in case you are involved in a hit-and-run accident or you are hit by someone who doesn’t carry enough coverage to pay for your damages.
Add-On Coverage v. Difference-in-Limits Coverage
There are two types of UM coverage: add-on and difference-in-limits. As its name implies, add-on coverage is added on to whatever limits of liability coverage the at-fault driver has available. So, as an example, let’s say that the at-fault driver has $25,000 in available liability coverage, and you have $100,000 in add-on UM coverage. Together, you will have a total of $125,000 in available insurance for your case.
Difference-in-limits coverage is reduced by the amount of available liability coverage. For example, if you have $100,000 in difference-in-limits coverage and the at-fault driver has $25,000 in liability coverage, you would have a total of $100,000 total to cover your damages — $25,000 from the at-fault driver and $75,000 from your own insurance company.
Even if you do not carry UM coverage for your own vehicle, you may still have access to it through another source. If you were driving someone else’s car, their UM coverage may apply to the accident. Or, if you have a relative residing with you who has UM coverage, you may be able to use their policy as well.
Using Med Pay After a Car Accident in Georgia
Medical payments coverage, commonly referred to as “med pay,” is a type of insurance you may have on your own insurance policy to pay your medical bills. Med pay provides coverage to the vehicle’s occupants, regardless of who is at fault. If your auto insurance policy includes med pay, you can use it as the primary source of payment for your medical costs — up to its limit. You may also use it in combination with your health insurance policy to cover your co-pays and deductibles. Any time you are in an accident while riding in someone else’s car, it is also important to find out if that car’s policy has med pay.
Using Health Insurance for Medical Bills After a Car Accident in Georgia
With or without med pay, you should always use your own health insurance plan as much as possible after an auto accident. It is not uncommon for hospitals and some other medical providers to refuse to bill health insurance companies. Instead, they may attempt to collect the full amount for your bills directly from your car accident settlement. You can avoid this hassle by ensuring that all of your medical providers have your health insurance information.
After an accident, some health insurance companies will try to claim that they are not responsible for your medical bills, especially if you are getting compensation through another payment source. However, this is not true. If you have health insurance, your insurance policy is there for you when you need it, to help pay for your medical costs. Always use your health insurance as much as possible when paying for medical needs after a car accident, especially if the other driver is uninsured or under-insured.
Using Your Collision Coverage to Repair Your Vehicle
If you’ve been in an accident with an uninsured driver, you may be wondering how you will pay your medical bills as well as paying to have your vehicle repaired. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you can use that UM/UIM to cover any property damage. You can also use your own policy’s collision coverage to pay for the damages to your vehicle, regardless of fault. You will likely have to pay for some of the damage to your vehicle, as you’ll need to meet your insurance policy’s deductible before your collision coverage pays for the rest.
If you’re trying to decide whether to use your uninsured motorist of collision coverage to repair any property, you’ll probably use the one with the lowest deductible. For example, if your uninsured motorist coverage has a $1,000 deductible and your collision coverage has a $500 deductible, your out-of-pocket expenses will be less with the collision coverage.
If you were hit by an underinsured driver, your insurance company will seek reimbursement from the other driver’s insurance company. This reimbursement process is called subrogation. If the other driver’s insurance company pays that reimbursement, your insurance company should refund you for your deductible. If your insurance company cannot get payment, you will at least not be responsible for any costs over and above your deductible.
Learn more in this video about what to do if an uninsured driver hits you:
About The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C.
Our team of personal injury lawyers in Marietta, GA works hard to find these different payment and reimbursement options for our clients. We pride ourselves on finding solutions and getting the best results possible for our clients. If you’ve been hurt or lost someone you love due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you may be owed significant compensation. Consultations are always free, and you can reach us online or at 404-594-5045.