No one wants to think about being in an automobile accident in Georgia, but a little forethought can go a long way to helping you should you find yourself in such a situation. Automobile insurance comes into play in some Georgia vehicular accidents, especially when physical injuries occur and/or there is major damage to one of the vehicles involved. But what should you do if the other driver involved in your accident doesn’t have automobile insurance?
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), as of 2015, 12 percent of Georgia’s motorists were uninsured. This percentage falls just under the national average of 13 percent. Georgia has special laws regarding uninsured or underinsured motorists, which become relevant when you are involved in an accident in which the other driver doesn’t have automobile insurance.
Georgia’s Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists Law
Under the terms of Georgia’s uninsured/underinsured motorists law, if you are involved in an accident in which the other driver is at fault but does not have insurance, you can use your own additional insurance coverage to pay for your costs. This is a complicated area that Butler Law Firm’s attorneys can assist you in understanding. The uninsured/underinsured motorists law in Georgia can apply if:
- You are involved in an accident in which the other driver does not have his or her own insurance
- You are hit by a vehicle while riding your bicycle or as a pedestrian
- You are hit by a driver who flees the scene of the accident and is not found
You are hit by a driver who has insurance but not enough to compensate injuries to everyone involved in the accident
Georgia’s uninsured/underinsured motorists law will cover not only you, as the driver of the other vehicle, but others involved in the accident including:
- Your spouse who lives with you
- Relatives of you or your spouse who live with you
- A guest who is a passenger in your car
- Anyone who is driving your insured vehicle with your consent
How to Deal with an Uninsured Driver
Being involved in an auto accident is frustrating enough, but it’s even worse when the other driver is uninsured. Now, because the driver failed to be responsible, you have to suffer as a result. However, if you were involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, there may be several options available to you to cover the property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering you endured. An experienced Atlanta car accident lawyer from the Butler Law Firm can discuss your options during a free initial consultation.
Georgia’s Minimum Insurance Requirements
Georgia is a fault state, meaning that the driver who is found at fault for an accident is responsible for paying for the damages stemming from his or her negligence. Georgia law requires that every owner of a motor vehicle in the state maintain liability insurance to cover damages that he or she causes in the following amounts:
- Bodily injury liability – $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Property damage liability – $25,000 per accident
Insurance companies must offer motorists the right to purchase uninsured motorist coverage. A vehicle owner can reject this coverage, but the rejection must be in writing.
If a driver fails to maintain the minimum liability coverage, he or she can be charged with a misdemeanor and face a fine up to $1,000 and a year in jail. He or she can also lose driving privileges for 60 to 90 days.
Options for Covering Your Damages
If an uninsured driver caused your car accident, you may have several options to cover your financial losses, such as:
Uninsured or Underinsured Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you are hit by a driver who does not have any liability insurance. It provides compensation for the damage to your vehicle and injuries to you and your passengers. It is part of your own insurance policy.
Underinsured motorist coverage protects you in the event that you are hit by a driver who causes damages that exceed his or her liability limit.
You may have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage that pays for your injuries and those of your passengers, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. You can make a claim under your PIP coverage for medical expenses, lost wages, and funeral expenses, if applicable.
If you have “full coverage,” you can make a claim against the collision portion of your insurance policy. Your insurance company can take care of your damages and then pursue reimbursement from the at-fault party. You will have to pay your deductible, but the insurance company may be able to refund this amount to you later.
You may be able to cover your medical expenses by using your own health insurance.
Sue the At-Fault Driver
If you are injured because of the negligent actions of another driver, you have a right to sue the driver for the full amount of your financial damages. However, if the driver was not responsible enough to carry minimum liability coverage, he or she may not have sufficient assets to cover your damages. Talk to an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer to determine if this option is worthwhile.
Look for Other Defendants
There may be other parties that may share in liability for the accident. For example, a third vehicle may have been involved. The driver may have been working at the time of the accident and the employer may be liable. An experienced Georgia auto accident lawyer can explore other options for recovery.
If you’ve been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, an experienced Atlanta car accident lawyer from the Butler Law Firm may be able to help. Call for a free consultation.
Turn to Your Insurance Coverage for Assistance
Unfortunately, you will most likely need to turn to your own insurance for help to cover the cost of the damages, medical bills, and more. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist car insurance coverage and the accident is determined to be that driver’s fault, this coverage may kick in to help you.
Typically, filing a claim with your insurance company against that driver when you have no medical bills, very little damage, and minimal losses is the best route.
In this situation, your insurance will likely assist with the minimal costs and damages that were a result of your minor car accident in Georgia.
File an Uninsured Driver Claim Through a Reputable Attorney
In other situations, it’s vital to take legal action with a reputable, experienced Georgia attorney.
If your vehicle has significant damage, your medical bills are high, and you’re dealing with pain, suffering, or other losses stemming from the crash, it can be necessary to file a lawsuit against the uninsured driver to guarantee they’ll in some way, shape, or form be responsible to pay for the damages.
Your ability to file a lawsuit will vary depending on where you live. If you live in a no-fault car insurance state, filing a lawsuit isn’t always an option unless you have suffered serious injuries or have incurred medical bills over a certain, set amount.
Luckily, Georgia is not a no-fault car insurance state, which means that when you work with a reputable, hardworking, experienced attorney who is prepared to build your case, your odds are typically much higher that you will win your case.
Unfortunately, most people who drive without insurance or are underinsured won’t have significant assets or income—even if you’re successful in proving that the other, uninsured or underinsured driver was at fault for the accident. And oftentimes, that means trying to collect from that uninsured driver can be a losing battle. But, when you work with an experienced attorney who has the knowledge to guide you through the process while taking your case and building it for trial, you have a much better chance of collecting what’s owed.
Contact an Experienced Georgia Attorney Near You
If you’ve been in an accident—whether the other driver has insurance or not—it’s vital that you seek help from a car accident attorney in Georgia who’s not only experienced at working with cases involving uninsured people, but also who believes in ethics, honesty, and producing top-quality legal work.