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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 without adequate insurance, throughout the United States and in Georgia.
According to data from recent years, 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.
After a car accident, most people assume that the at-fault driver’s insurance company should 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 actually multiple avenues available to victims of car wrecks in Georgia. The other driver’s liability insurance is not the only option. Depending on your coverage and the circumstances of the crash, you might be able to get payment from:
- Uninsured/under-insured motorist insurance
- Medical payments coverage (commonly known as “med pay”)
- Health insurance
- Collision insurance
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/Under-Insured Motorist Coverage
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 for all policies. 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.
Conversely, difference-in-limits coverage is reduced by the amount of available liability coverage. Thus, if you have $100,000 in difference-in-limits coverage and the at-fault driver has $25,000 in liability coverage, you would have an additional $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. For example, if you were driving someone else’s car, their UM coverage will apply to the accident. Likewise, and this is something many people don’t know, 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” for short, is a type of insurance you may have on your own insurance policy to pay your medical bills. 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.
What is med pay? In short, medical payments coverage is essentially health insurance for people who are in a car accident in the car that is covered by the insurance policy. Med pay provides coverage to the vehicle’s occupants regardless of who is at fault. Med pay can be a valuable source of insurance to pay your medical bills. 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.
Applying Health Insurance to Medical Bills After an Auto Accident in Georgia
With or without med pay, you should always use your 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.
On this topic, we should address an issue around health insurance and car accidents. 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
An accident with an uninsured driver can not only leave you with questions about how to get your injuries covered, but it may also raise concerns about how you will get your car fixed. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, that coverage can be used as it will include property damages coverage. Additionally, your own policy’s collision coverage can be used to pay for the damage to your vehicle after a wreck, regardless of fault. If your policy includes collision coverage, you can use it to pay for your property damage claim after the accident. In this case, 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 have uninsured motorist coverage and collision coverage, you can use either one to pay the property damages resulting from an uninsured driver. The decision on which coverage to use may be dictated by which has the lowest deductible. For example, if your uninsured motorist coverage has a $1,000 deductible but the deductible on your collision coverage is only $500, you should probably use your collision coverage as your out of pocket costs will be less on the deductible.
If you were hit by an under-insured driver, your insurance company will seek reimbursement for your claim from the other driver’s insurance company. This process is called subrogation, and if the other driver’s insurance company pays that reimbursement, your insurance company should then reimburse 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.
Contact the Champion Firm for Help Now
At The Champion Firm, we love finding solutions like these for our clients. From sourcing all possible payments to proving fault and everything in between, 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 could be owed significant compensation. Consultations are always free, and you can reach us online or at 404-594-5045.
If you’re hurt in a pedestrian accident, the first thing that you should do is seek medical attention to make sure that you’re stabilized. Once any kind of emergency situation is passed, you really need to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. It’s very important to take a variety of steps right away, to protect your interest. One of them is to locate all potential sources of insurance. A lot of people don’t realize this, but if you’re in a pedestrian accident, you actually need to notify your own car insurance company. Your uninsured motorist coverage may provide coverage for you, in the event the person who hit either has no insurance, or not enough insurance to pay all of your damages.
Something else that’s very important is locating and preserving all available evidence, including taking statements from witnesses, so that we can prove who was at fault for causing your pedestrian accident.
If you’re injured by a hit-and-run driver, you need to talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible, because there are number of things that need to be done. One is gathering all the evidence, talking to witnesses, and documenting what happened. The second thing is identifying all sources of uninsured motorist coverage. When you’re in an accident with a hit-and-run driver, the hit-and-run driver is considered uninsured. He would be called a John Doe driver. We need to find all sources of uninsured motorist insurance.
That’s going to mean looking at the coverage that applies to the vehicle you’re in, any coverage that was issued in your name, or any coverage issued to any resident relatives. That’s something that’s very important. It must be done quickly, to make sure the proper insurance companies are notified in a timely manner.
If you’ve been injured in a golf cart accident, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible. Golf cart accident cases aren’t like your typical car accident case. With a car accident, there’s often no dispute about what insurance applies.
With a golf cart accident though, the question can get a little bit trickier. We actually had a case several years ago that we took all the way to the Georgia Court of Appeals, that involved the dispute about whether a golf cart driver’s homeowners insurance covered him while he was driving a golf cart, and seriously injured our client.
We were able to prove that the homeowners insurance did apply, and it allowed our client to obtain a very significant recovery. If you’ve had a golf cart accident, it’s very important that you talk to somebody who’s had that experience working on golf cart accident cases, and locating all the insurance that’s going to apply, and to be able to cover your damages.
People frequently wonder whether they should let their own insurance company know about a car accident that was not their fault. The answer is absolutely, unequivocally, 100% yes. You should always let your own insurance company know about any car accident, regardless of who you think is at fault. The reason for this is simple. Your insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company, and in that contract you have agreed to notify your insurance company after an accident. This notice must be given in a timely manner. Most policies say the notice should be given as soon as reasonably practicable or within a certain number of days. At this point you may be wondering what the consequences would be if you don’t notify your insurance company. After all, if the other driver is at fault, shouldn’t their insurance company pay for everything? Not so fast. There are number of scenarios that could arise that could require you to use your own insurance.
First, it may turn out the driver who caused the accident is uninsured. Estimates are that as many as 12% of Georgia motorists are uninsured. If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver you may need to use your own uninsured motorist coverage.
Second, even if the other driver has insurance, he or she may be underinsured. In other words, they may not have enough insurance to coverage all of your damages. Under Georgia law, the definition of an uninsured driver includes an underinsured driver. If you have an accident with an underinsured driver, your own uninsured motorist insurance may kick in to cover any damages that exceed the amount of insurance the other driver has.
Third, you may have medical payments coverage you need to use. Medical payments coverage is like health insurance for you if you are involved in a car accident. It can be used to pay your medical bills, and it applies regardless of who is at fault.
Fourth, although you may think liability is clear, the other insurance company may dispute it or attempt to apportion some of the blame to you. This could lead to a delay in getting your car repaired or replaced, which could cause a huge inconvenience for you. You may have collision coverage under your own insurance policy that can be used to pay for your property damages. This type of coverage is no fault, which means that you can use it regardless of who is at fault.
In conclusion, you should always notify your own insurance company after a car accident, even if you think the accident was not your fault. You may need to have access to a variety of coverages under your own policy, and if you don’t notify your insurance company in a timely manner you may lose access to these valuable sources of insurance.
A lot of people ask me if they’ve been in an auto accident, whether they should hire a lawyer or whether they should represent themselves and go it alone. It’s possible you could get a good result if you represent yourself, but there’s no guarantee. You’re never going to know if you got the best possible result because the chances are you don’t know what all of your rights are. You don’t know all of the damages that you’re entitled to collect.
Just like if somebody was trying to sell their house, they may try and go it alone because they want to save money on the commission and not hire a realtor. At the end of the day, they can make a serious mistake that could cost them thousands of dollars.
The same holds true in an auto accident case. You might not be aware of certain insurance that may apply for your accident. You may not be aware of the damages you’re entitled to collect. You may not be aware of how to properly evaluate the value of your case.
The only way that you can do that is by having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. That’s the service that we provide.
If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, there’s a number of things that need to be looked at. The first is there somebody else that’s responsible for the driver’s negligence? Maybe the driver was drunk and a restaurant or bar over-served them alcohol. We may be able to pursue a claim against that dining establishment. It’s also possible that maybe someone negligently entrusted the car to the driver who then caused the accident. That’s something that needs to be looked at.
But another thing is what’s called uninsured motorist insurance, and that’s coverage that’s available to you and any occupants in your vehicle in the event the driver doesn’t have insurance, or not enough insurance to pay all your medical bills.
If you’ve had a car accident, the first thing that you should make sure that you do is at least talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. There’s a number of important steps that need to be taken immediately after an accident. One of those is to make sure that you’re getting the proper medical treatment and that that treatment is being paid for by the proper sources, whether its health insurance or medical payments coverage.
If you don’t have health insurance, a lawyer can help you get set up with a doctor that will see you and defer payment until after a settlement.
Another important thing that’s often overlooked is making sure that the proper insurance companies are notified. If certain companies aren’t notified within a proper period of time after an accident, they may try and deny coverage and say that they weren’t timely notified. That could cause you to lose the right to a very valuable source of coverage for your injuries.
If you’ve had an accident, we would welcome the opportunity to provide you with a free consultation so that you can make an informed decision on whether you need to hire a lawyer.
If you are involved in a car accident with a company-owned vehicle you may have a claim against the company itself. Under Georgia law, anytime an employee is involved in an accident while working for their employer, that employer is generally responsible for the damages that they cause. If there is a company-owned vehicle we want to look at what that person was doing at the time of the accident, and were they working at the time, or were they off duty? We want to look at it and see whether the company has an insurance policy on the vehicle that may provide coverage for the loss.
We also want to look at it and see whether there is any available uninsured motorist coverage for you if you were involved in the accident, which is something we always look at any time there’s a motor vehicle collision.
If you’re involved in a trucking accident case, it’s very important that you hire an attorney. Trucking accident cases are some of the most serious accidents out there because they are so large, and they can inflict a tremendous amount of damage. It’s very important to get an attorney involved early in the process, because the attorney needs to work on proving your case.
Any time there’s an accident with a big truck, the trucking company is getting to work right away doing everything they can to try and defeat your claim. You need somebody on your side who’s going to be able to prove your claim and to gather the necessary evidence, who’s going to have access to experts, who may be able to help you prove your case down the road, so that you’re not left at the end of the day without any ability to prove who was at fault.