Car accidents are expensive. According to Forbes, the typical car accident costs around $20,000-25,000. And that’s just the average. Other victims will suffer more serious bodily injuries and incur larger medical bills. They might also be in so much pain they can’t possibly go into work. As experienced lawyers, we have seen many car accidents worth much more.
Sadly, too many Georgia motorists do not have insurance. They might pay just to register their car and then let coverage lapse, or they never register their vehicle in the first place. Innocent motorists on the road end up getting hurt—and then find out the at-fault driver is without coverage.
Contact Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys. You might make a claim on your uninsured motorist coverage, called UM insurance. We answer some critical questions below.
Does Georgia Require Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
OCGA 33-7-11(a)(1) requires that any insurer offering liability coverage must also offer uninsured motorist insurance (UM), with policy limits equal to your liability insurance. Currently, the minimum liability insurance is $25,000 per injured person, up to $50,000 when two or more are injured, and $25,000 for property damage.
You will have UM coverage equal to these limits unless you reject it in writing. It’s possible to request in writing different policy limits.
Motorists are wise to keep UM coverage. According to Value Penguin, about 1 in 8 Georgia drivers lack liability insurance—which is required by the state. And this number does not even include all the uninsured motorists coming into Georgia from Florida or Mississippi.
Most drivers in Georgia have UM coverage but double check by looking at your policy.
What Accidents Are Covered?
You can use UM insurance whenever you are hurt in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist. You can also use it for hit and run accidents, where the driver might have insurance but can’t be found.
UM insurance is not “no fault” insurance. Fault still matters. For this reason, you can’t be mostly to blame for the accident if you intend to tap UM benefits. Fault is often a tricky issue and might be in dispute, especially if you admitted to texting-and-driving right before the crash.
What UM Benefits Can You Receive?
You can use UM benefits to cover losses flowing from the accident:
- Medical care to treat your bodily injuries—You probably need to meet with a doctor, have diagnostic tests, and receive prescription medication. You might also need surgery, rehabilitation, or mental health counseling. We can seek compensation for all medical bills.
- Lost income or wages—Injured motorists often can’t work, and you should receive financial compensation for lost income.
- Pain and suffering—Bodily injuries reduce a person’s quality of life due to pain and limitations. We can seek financial compensation for these intangible losses.
- Property damage—The collision probably damaged your car, which needs some repairs so you can safely drive it again.
Unless you reject UM insurance, you should have $25,000 to pay financial compensation for your bodily injuries, and $25,000 for property damage.
Do You Need a Lawyer for a UM Claim?
You might. One misconception is that because you pay UM insurance premiums, you’ll easily get a claim approved. That’s simply not the case. Many people are shocked when their insurer outright rejects their claim following an accident.
Some common reasons for rejection include:
- Your insurer believes you are at fault. As mentioned above, UM coverage is still fault based. Your insurer might think you drove off the road because you were intoxicated or fell asleep, or else they think you ran a red light and caused a T-bone accident. They will reject your claim for compensation.
- Your insurer thinks you weren’t injured in a car accident. This insurance won’t cover someone hurt while walking out to their mailbox or injured in the gym. It covers car accidents. Your insurer might doubt whether you were really involved in a crash.
- Your insurer thinks your injuries are too minor. They might approve a claim but offer a low amount for a settlement. Often, they do this because they do not believe you are seriously injured.
Our car accident lawyers can help. We might need to negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company. First, we will collect evidence to show the accident happened as you claimed it did. The evidence will vary from case to case. We usually rely on our client’s memories and hopefully other witnesses. Did someone see you get hit by a hit-and-run motorist? That witness’ testimony would carry weight with the insurance company.
Second, we can also help document your injuries, physical pain, and emotional distress. For example, we might send you to a doctor for a second opinion and compile medical records like x-rays and MRI results.
Armed with this information, we can negotiate with your insurance company to get them to increase the amount of your settlement.
How Should You Respond to an Unfair Denial of Your Claim?
The first step should be to secure the services of our lawyers. We can analyze why your insurer rejected your claim and begin compiling evidence.
Insurance companies in Georgia must engage in good faith business practices. This means your insurer must:
- Promptly investigate any claim
- Pay out benefits when it’s obvious you qualify under the policy
- Explain why they rejected a claim
- Avoid making misrepresentations about the policy to you
If you are unfairly denied benefits, we might file a bad faith lawsuit against the insurance company for your damages, attorney’s fees, as well as penalties available under the law. Insurance companies are on notice that we will not tolerate unfair treatment of our clients.
Speak with a Car Accident Lawyer Today
Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys is proud of representing motorists injured in hit and runs and other accidents. We can step in and fight for meaningful compensation for your injuries. Never simply accept an insurance company’s denial of your claim. Call us today to schedule a free consultation at (404) 529-3476 to discuss whether we can help.