When you are involved in an automobile accident in Georgia, you will want the at-fault driver to have insurance; otherwise, you will have to try to collect payment from the driver personally. One of the first steps you should take is reporting the accident to your insurance company and to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Under Georgia law, an insurer is required to provide information regarding the types and amounts of insurance available to cover the accident. Determining what types of insurance or which policy are available to cover your personal injuries can be difficult, but is imperative when making a claim for injuries from a car wreck in Georgia.
The at-fault driver usually has car insurance that should cover property damage to your vehicle and personal injuries to you. The following types of insurance that the other driver could possibly have and be available to you when you’re injured in an accident are below:
Liability Insurance or Bodily Injury Policy: This is normally the policy that will cover the personal injuries that arose from the car accident, if the other driver is at-fault. The policy covers present and future medical expenses, lost wages, other economic losses, and present and future pain & suffering. Normally, an individual driver has a minimum of $25,000/$50,000 in coverage. What this means is that the policy covers up to $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injuries that the at-fault driver causes to other people. However, such policy limits could be much higher ($50,000/$100,000; $100,000/$300,000; $250,000/$500,000). Commercial policies issued for drivers of company cars tend to have much higher limits (ie, $1,000,000 in coverage).
The bodily injury policy is not a pay as you go type of policy. In other words, the insurer will not pay your medical bills as you incur them. Typically, you will obtain all of your medical treatment before you make a demand for payment because settlement under this policy is a final settlement; settling before you obtain all treatment or know the extent of your injuries would be premature. Thus, you would either pay for medical treatment out of pocket or have your health insurance company pay for your treatment as outlined in my article on paying for medical bills after a car accident in Georgia. Within your demand for payment under the bodily injury policy, you can also make claims for other related economic losses, such as lost wages from the inability to work due to your injuries.
Property Damage Policy: When the other driver is at fault s/he is responsible for paying for the damage to your vehicle. Thus, if s/he has automobile insurance, then the property damage policy, which is separate from the bodily injury policy, will cover such damage. Not only does this include repairing damage the vehicle itself, it could also include paying for the diminished value of the vehicle.
Personal Umbrella Policy: Many people have umbrella policies or excess policies that cover injuries from automobile accidents. An umbrella policy is applicable when the at-fault driver has is insufficient insurance under his/her bodily injury automobile policy to cover your injuries. For example, if you were injured in an automobile wreck due to the other driver’s negligence and incurred $500,000.00 in medical bills and the other driver only had $25,000.00 in bodily injury coverage under his auto policy, you could potentially seek coverage under his/her umbrella policy.
Commercial Liability Policy: If the at-fault driver is acting as an employee or agent of a company when s/he hits you, then the company’s insurance policy could cover your injuries.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Policy: Georgia drivers should all have uninsured/underinsured automobile insurance (“UM”) with a minimum coverage of $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident. Your UM policy kicks in when the at-fault driver has no insurance or when the at-fault driver has insufficient insurance to cover claims for your injuries. You must show that the at-fault driver has no insurance or that the at-fault driver’s insurance is exhausted before your UM coverage can be triggered.
Medical Payments Policy: Your automobile insurance policy could have a no-fault medical payments (medpay) policy that will cover your medical bills if you are involved in a car accident. Normally, medpay policies have lower limits of, say, $5,000.00 or $10,000.00.
Health Insurance Policy: Your health insurance policy covers medical treatment as outlined in your health care plan. Even if your medical treatment is related to a car accident, it should be covered through your health insurance. Often, if you do eventually recover under the at-fault driver’s liability policy, you may have to reimburse your health insurer; however, health insurance should cover medical treatment as your receive it.
The types of insurances outlined above are not an exhaustive list of insurance policies that may be available to you if you are injured in an automobile accident in Georgia. Insurance law is relatively complicated; and, it can become even more complicated when insurance companies begin to deny coverage or pay less than the full value of your claim. Thus, it is usually necessary to have a qualified personal injury attorney to assist you when you are involved in an auto accident in Georgia. If you have further questions about automobile insurance law in Georgia, please feel free to call our office at 404-593-2620 for a consultation.
About the Author Betty Nguyen Davis is an Atlanta attorney who solely focuses her practice on plaintiff’s personal injury work. Betty is consistently recognized by her peers as a top attorney in Georgia by Super Lawyers and Georgia Trend and is highly recommended by her clients as a aggressive and persistent, yet caring and accessible attorney.