Do you have questions about the Georgia law regarding Uninsured Motorist insurance coverage? Call our legal team at The Angell Law Firm to schedule a consultation.
Suppose you are in a motor vehicle accident that is another driver’s fault. In that case, you can file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance provider, seeking compensation for your damages. The State of Georgia requires car owners to carry bodily injury and property damage liability insurance.
However, some motorists who cause accidents often don’t have insurance. A driver in a car that caused an accident will also sometimes flee the scene, which means you would have no one to hold liable.
To remedy these situations, Georgia law requires insurance providers to offer Uninsured Motorist coverage. However, the law does not require car owners to purchase it.
In this article, our team at The Angell Law Firm discusses whether you can waive uninsured motorist coverage in Atlanta.
Underinsured and Uninsured Motorists
An uninsured driver is a road user who, unlawfully, doesn’t carry property and bodily injury liability insurance. An uninsured motorist can also be someone whose insurance provider denied them coverage due to insufficient evidence of liability.
On the other hand, an underinsured driver carries insurance, but their policy isn’t high enough to cover all the economic and non-economic damages of the injured party.
Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage provides relief to injured parties after car accidents due to uninsured drivers’ negligent conduct. If the at-fault party is underinsured, this coverage will pay the difference between the injured party’s damages and the underinsured driver’s coverage.
Minimum Liability Coverage According to Georgia Law
Suppose you sustain personal injuries, vehicle damage, and other economic losses, such as medical bills, in a car accident that is someone else’s fault. In this case, the at-fault driver’s liability coverage should be your primary option for compensation.
Under Georgia law, all drivers must carry liability coverage meeting the following minimums:
- Bodily Injury Liability – $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident
- Property Damage Liability – $25,000 per incident
A driver whose liability coverage adheres to these minimums meets the legal requirement in Georgia. However, in severe accidents involving multiple vehicles and road users, these coverages might not be enough to compensate the you and other injured parties for your damages.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage: What You Need to Know
In most cases, uninsured drivers don’t have the financial means to compensate injured parties for their damages. UM coverage also applies to hit-and-accidents where the responsible party is unidentified.If you don’t carry UM coverage, any damages you sustain in an accident might go uncovered, even if you were not at fault.
Severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries and cardiac arrest, require expensive treatments. Permanent disabilities can affect your income earning abilities. If you don’t receive compensation for these damages, they can permanently affect your financial health.
The state does not require road users to carry Uninsured Motorist coverage. However, the coverage is available to you as a road user, regardless of whether you are a motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian.
Also, the coverage extends to the policyholder’s household members, including their spouse and children.
For example, suppose you as the policyholder are commuting with your spouse when an uninsured driver hits you. In this case, your UM coverage might compensate both you and your spouse for your injuries and medical bills.
A person who drives your insured vehicle with your implied or express consent might also enjoy UM coverage under your policy. The same goes for a guest who is your passenger.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Two Types of Coverage
In Georgia, two types of uninsured motorist coverage exist:
- Non-stacking coverage: “Reduction” coverage is available if your UM coverage is higher than the at-fault driver’s liability insurance limits. In this case, the UM payout will equal your UM coverage minus the at-fault party’s liability coverage.
For example, if you have $60,000 in non-stacking UM coverage and the at-fault party’s coverage amounts to $25,000, you have $35,000 available in UM coverage. Similarly, if the at-fault driver is uninsured, the entire $60,000 will be available to you as UM coverage.
If your non-stack UM coverage is equal to the at-fault driver’s liability coverage, you don’t have access to a UM payout.
- Stacking coverage: “Add-on” UM coverage is available to you beyond the at-fault driver’s liability coverage. In other words, you can “stack” the other party’s liability coverage and your UM coverage to cover your damages.
For example, suppose your UM coverage is $50,000, and the at-fault party’s liability coverage is $25,000. In this case, you can claim a compensation amount of up to $75,000.
Relying on Health Insurance Coverage
In many cases, Georgia drivers waive Uninsured Motorist coverage because they assume that their health insurance will cover their medical expenses after an accident. While it is true that your health insurance might cover some of your medical treatments after a car accident, you would still need to pay your health deductible and copays. These expenses can amount to hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars under some policies.
Also, your health insurance only covers your medical-related expenses. After a car accident, you might need to pursue compensation for vehicle damage. If your injury resulted in a disability that keeps you from working, you might also need to claim lost wages.
Under the Georgia Uninsured Motorist coverage law, you can cover these damages and reduce the accident’s impact on your financial situation.
Be Sure to Seek Legal Help After an Accident Involving an Uninsured Driver
Many Georgia drivers may have Uninsured Motorist coverage and not know that they carry it. Read the declarations page of your insurance policy to find out. If you decide you do not want it, you can waive your uninsured motorist coverage in writing.
If you want to file an insurance claim for damages after a car accident, our legal team at The Angell Law Firm can help provide you with a personalized legal solution to protect your interests. Call us today at 770-217-4954 to schedule an initial consultation and free case evaluation at one of our offices: in Atlanta or Toccoa, GA, Charleston or Greenville, SC, or Destin, FL.
Bryce is considered a highly esteemed trial lawyer and a passionate client advocate amongst his peers in the Atlanta legal community. Never afraid to go the extra mile for his clients, Bryce Angell works tirelessly to ensure that each client’s personal injury case gets the attention that it deserves.