In Georgia as in every other state, drivers must carry minimum amounts of auto insurance for the event of an accident. How does Georgia view fault in an accident? The short answer: Georgia is not a no-fault state. This means that someone has to determine the at-fault party after an accident. This can widely affect the legal process after a car accident.
Understanding Insurance Coverage
In Georgia, drivers must carry the minimum amount of $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per driver, and $50,000 per accident. Drivers must also carry at least $25,000 per occurrence in property damage liability.
When an individual opts to only purchase the minimum amount of coverage, it means the insurance company is liable for paying $25,000 of medical care for an injured person if he or she is at fault. This is also true in cases of wrongful death due to an accident. Georgia also does not require physical damage insurance. Most banks require it to finance a car, even though the state does not.
Of the 50 states, only 12 do not follow no-fault insurance laws. Georgia is one of those 12. No-fault insurance means that each driver files a claim with his or her own personal injury protection (PIP) policy for the full amount. Then, the driver who is not at fault or is less at fault can only sue the at-fault driver for the rest of the damages above what the PIP covers. However, Georgia does not abide by those rules.
Any injured party in the state of Georgia may sue the other driver for the full amount of damages, regardless of PIP. Medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more all fall under damages. Because Georgia is an at-fault state, both the risk and the reward are higher with damage settlements related to car accidents.
Another thing that is true of Georgia and the 12 other states that do not follow no-fault rules is the modified comparative fault rule. This rule prohibits a driver found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident (i.e., at fault) from pursuing damages from the other driver. In four states (not including Georgia), drivers who are even 99% at fault can sue the other party.
With Georgia’s laws, the first step in any case involving a car accident is determining who is mostly at fault, and thus which insurance company is liable. In most cases, this part of the process is a deliberation between attorneys from the two insurance companies. It is a very important part of the litigation, because both companies fight hard to pay less on their client’s behalf.
After liability is established drivers can file a claim. Often, the plaintiff is pursuing damages from their own insurance provider who has allegedly not compensated them for the full value of their damages. In other cases, the plaintiff pursues damages from the other driver’s insurance company for their own medical expenses and pain and suffering. This phase of the process is best handled by an attorney who will fight hard for the plaintiff’s best interest. More often than not the first settlement offer is far too low to cover all medical expenses, property repairs or replacement and emotional pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident, it is always wise to seek legal assistance. When you hire an attorney, you know that you have someone representing your interests, not the interests of the insurance companies.