Understanding Georgia uninsured or underinsured motorists law can be difficult. If you’ve been in an accident with a motorist who is not fully covered, our Atlanta UM/UIM lawyer can help.
Georgia law requires drivers to carry minimum amounts of liability auto insurance. This coverage pays for bodily injury and property damage that a driver causes in an accident. So, when you are injured in a crash, your first option for a recovery should be to turn to the other driver’s liability coverage.
However, what options are available to you if the at-fault driver has no auto insurance or lacks enough coverage to pay for all of your losses? What if the other driver flees the scene in a hit-and-run accident? Or what if you are hit by a driver while walking across the street as a pedestrian?
If you have purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, you may be able to pursue a claim with your own insurance company.
James M. Poe, P.C., can help you to navigate the challenging issues that may arise as you pursue such a claim. Our goal is to make sure that all of the potential sources for recovery are carefully examined after a car crash. Contact us today to learn more.
What Does UM/UIM Cover?
Under Georgia law, drivers must carry liability coverage in the following minimum amounts:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $25,000 per accident for property damage.
However, according to the Insurance Research Council, an estimated 9-to-11 percent of Georgia drivers either never had it, or allowed their coverage to drop, leaving them without coverage. And even those with insurance may only carry these minimum amounts. If you are involved in a serious auto accident with multiple occupants in your vehicle or if multiple vehicles are involved, then it is likely that your losses will far exceed those limits.
How the Georgia Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists Law Can Help You
This is where UM/UIM coverage can be helpful. Georgia law requires insurance companies to make UM/UIM available when you purchase your insurance. So, unless you have rejected this coverage in writing, you may have it and not even realize it. You should check the “Declarations” page of your insurance policy. You can also ask attorneys Jim and Matt Poe to review it for you.
UM/UIM coverage can provide vital protection. It typically applies if you are hurt in an accident involving:
- A driver who has no insurance
- A driver who has insurance but there is not enough to compensate all of those who have been injured
- A hit-and-run driver where the at-fault driver cannot be identified
- A driver who hits you while you are walking or cycling.
The policy should normally provide UM/UIM coverage to you and the following:
- Your spouse (if living in the same household)
- Relatives of you and your spouse (children, step-children) residing in your household
- Anyone who is using your insured vehicle with your express or implied consent
- A guest who is riding as a passenger in your insured vehicle.
How Much UM/UIM Coverage Should You Have?
A lawyer from our firm can also review your policy to determine how much UM/UIM coverage is available to you. You may have a provision that allows you to “stack” your coverage. This can provide access to more funds to help accomplish full compensation for your injuries.
In Georgia, there are two types of UM/UIM coverage:
- Non-stacking – This is also called “traditional” or “reduction” coverage. You can turn to this coverage only if your UM/UIM coverage exceeds the at-fault driver’s liability limits. If so, the amount of UM/UIM coverage available to you is reduced, or “offset,” by that liability insurance. For example: The at-fault driver has $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage. You have $25,000 in UM/UIM coverage. Subtract the liability ($25,000) from the UM/UIM coverage ($25,000). The result: You have $0 available in UM/UIM coverage because this product only guaranteed that the tortfeasor would have coverage for $25,000 of damage. So, even if your bodily injury losses exceeded $25,000, you would not be able to turn to your UM/UIM policy.
- However: If you had $100,000 in traditional non-stacking UM/UIM coverage, then you would subtract the tortfeasor’s coverage ($25,000) from the UM/UIM ($100,000). The result: You would have $75,000 in available coverage from purchasing this policy.Note: With traditional coverage, the full amount of $100,000 UM/UIM would be available to you if the at-fault driver had no insurance or if one of the circumstances was where the tortfeasor was unidentifiable or where their coverage had been reduced or exhausted by other claims.
- Stacking – This is also called “add-on” or “excess” coverage. It means that this amount is always potentially available above and beyond whatever coverage the negligent person had.
- For example: If the at-fault driver had $25,000 in liability coverage and you had $25,000 in stackable UM/UIM coverage, then if your losses exceed the driver’s liability limits, you would be able to “stack” your UM/UIM on top of his coverage to be able to collect up to $50,000 if you had such an injury.
Contact an Atlanta UM/UIM Lawyer
It is important to seek legal help immediately after a car accident. An attorney can help you to deal with all insurance companies involved in your case, including the at-fault driver’s liability insurer and your own UM/UIM provider. UM/UIM policies may have special reporting requirements to give them notice of potential claims. It is very important that these notices are sent in timely and appropriate fashion.
At James M. Poe, P.C., we have extensive experience with representing personal injury victims in Atlanta and across Georgia. We know how to guide a case carefully through the UM/UIM claims process while making sure our client’s rights are fully protected. Simply contact us today by phone or online to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can assist you.
- New Study Reveals a Declining Trend in the Percentage of Uninsured Motorists, Insurance Research Council
- Senate Bill 276, Georgia General Assembly
- Georgia Code (O.C.G.A. §§ 33-7-11 and 33-24-41.1)