Operating a vehicle without having auto insurance is illegal. However, the minimum amount ($25,000) is often too little to cover injuries from a serious auto accident. And, some Georgia motorists may drive while uninsured. If you’re involved in a car accident that was caused by someone who is driving without insurance or too little insurance, how do you get compensation for your injuries?
The solution could lie in the Georgia uninsured motorist statute. Here’s a look at the state laws regarding auto insurance, the difficulties in using uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM), and the reasons to consider hiring an Atlanta car accident attorney to help with your claim.
Georgia’s Car Insurance Requirements
Under the law, motorists must have auto insurance. Anyone who gets behind the wheel is expected to hold the minimum amount of coverage—which, in Georgia, is 25/50/25. In other words, drivers are required to meet the state’s minimum liability limits as follows:
- $25,000 in coverage for accident injuries to one person,
- $50,000 in coverage for all injury claims for a single accident, and
- $25,000 in coverage for property damage in an accident.
However, the coverage an at fault driver has may not be enough to offset all the costs incurred in a car accident. And that’s where the Georgia uninsured motorist statute comes in.
How Uninsured Motorist Coverage Works
The Georgia uninsured motorist statute requires auto insurance providers to offer UM/UIM coverage. The amount is generally equal to the liability limits of the policy. So if you have 25/50/25 liability coverage, your insurer must offer uninsured motorist coverage with the same 25/50/25 limits.
While the uninsured motorist coverage is offered, you are not required to accept this coverage. But, you should because it is crucial if you get in an accident with a person who has low limits. You can purchase UM/UIM coverage that is higher or lower than your liability limits, or you can opt-out (that means, decline the coverage).
If you’re involved in a car accident, you may need to confirm that you have the coverage and the limits of your policy. You’ll also likely need to check to see which type of coverage you have. There are two types of UM/UIM coverage: Add-on and reduced-by.
Add-on coverage is the default under the current Georgia uninsured motorist statute. If the other driver has a policy limit of $25,000 and you have $50,000 in UM/UIM coverage, the amount available to compensate you for your injuries would be the total of both policies’ limits, or $75,000. Your coverage “adds on” to the other driver’s coverage.
Reduced-by coverage can also provide you with funds for damages incurred in a car accident, but only up to the difference in the amount of bodily injury insurance between you and the at-fault driver. So in the scenario above, reduced-by coverage would give you a total of only $50,000 potential compensation—the value of the other driver’s policy plus the difference between their policy and your UM/UIM coverage. Your coverage is “reduced by” the other driver’s coverage.
What if the at-fault driver has no auto insurance? In that case, whether you have add-on or reduced-by UM/UIM coverage won’t make a difference—you’ll be covered up to the limits of your policy.
Using Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Georgia
If you have UM/UIM coverage and are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, you’ll need to make a claim with your insurance provider. When it comes to using uninsured motorist coverage in Georgia, you may find that your insurance company takes the following positions, depending on the facts and circumstances of your case.
- Denies that the other driver was at fault for the car accident;
- Claims that your injuries weren’t caused by the collision; or
- Argues that you haven’t sustained injuries serious enough to qualify for compensation.
Consulting with experienced Atlanta car accident attorneys—like the team at Weatherby Law Firm, P.C.—is the best approach when dealing with uninsured motorists coverage. Our team of legal professionals has extensive experience with personal injury, car accidents, and insurance coverage. We can review your policy, negotiate with your insurer, and help you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Do you have questions about the Georgia uninsured motorist statute? Or were you in a collision and want expert assistance getting the damages you deserve? Either way, Weatherby Law Firm, P.C. is here to help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with an Atlanta car accident attorney today.