When you’re seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may not be in any position to deal with the insurance company. Of course, you’ll need to submit your claim within a few days after the crash. However, it’s a good idea to at least meet with an Athens car accident attorney before you do that.
Here, we’ll explain how our accident lawyers in Athens negotiate with the insurance carrier. We’ll also explain what happens if you end up needing to file suit.
All Drivers in Georgia Are Required to Carry Auto Insurance
Just like every other state, Georgia requires that all drivers carry insurance. It doesn’t matter whether you drive a car, truck, or motorcycle. You need to maintain insurance. If you don’t, you’ll not only face criminal penalties, but you also risk facing personal liability if you get into an accident.
If you do end up getting into an accident, whichever driver caused the crash will be held liable. As long as they have insurance, there’s a good chance their insurance carrier will pay any claims that come due.
There Are Minimum Coverage Levels Motorists Must Maintain
Under Georgia law, all motorists must maintain certain minimum coverage amounts. When you purchase your insurance policy, you’ll have the option of selecting these minimum amounts. Or you can opt for additional coverage.
The minimum coverage levels in Georgia are as follows:
- Bodily Injury – You must carry a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident.
- Property Damage – The minimum amount you must carry is $25,000 per incident.
In addition to the mandatory coverage limits, you can also pay for additional coverage under your policy. For example, collision coverage will pay for any damage to your vehicle, regardless of who was at fault.
You should also pay for uninsured motorists’ coverage in case the person who hits you doesn’t have insurance.
The First Thing Your Accident Lawyer in Athens Will Do is File Your Insurance Claim
One of the first things your Athens car accident attorney will do after the crash is file your insurance claim. If the other driver caused the crash, their insurance policy should cover any losses you suffer.
This may include anything from your medical bills to lost wages. It should also compensate you for any lost future income you’ll experience as well as damages for pain and suffering.
Most Car Accident Insurance Claims Are Paid Right Away
Despite what many people think, most insurance claims are paid. This is especially true for smaller claims. It doesn’t make sense for the insurance company to pay thousands of dollars to defend a small claim.
However, there are times when the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim doesn’t believe they should pay. They may doubt that their client caused the crash. Or they may see that you have a history of filing auto insurance claims.
Your Claim Could Be Denied, Delayed, or Underpaid
Depending on the facts surrounding your accident, your claim may be denied. It can also be delayed or paid in part. If any of these things happen, you need to let your accident lawyer in Athens know right away.
If your attorney believes the facts support your claim, they can file an appeal. If this isn’t successful, you always have the option of filing a lawsuit against the other driver.
Worst Case, Your Athens Car Accident Attorney Can Sue the Other Driver
If you decide that legal action is the best way to go, your Athens car accident attorney will file suit. The question is who they will name in your lawsuit.
As much as you may want to sue the insurance company directly, you don’t have that option in Georgia. You must file your lawsuit against the other driver and then their insurance carrier will assign someone to represent them in court.
You Cannot Sue the Insurance Carrier Directly in Georgia
Many of our clients are surprised to learn that you cannot sue the defendant’s insurance company directly. You must first sue the other driver personally for damages. Once they are served, they will notify their insurance carrier that they’re being sued.
The insurance carrier is then required to represent them. Typically, they’ll reach back out to your Athens car accident attorney and try to negotiate a settlement. Ideally, they’ll come to terms without the need to take further legal action.
Your Accident Lawyer in Athens Will Settle with the Insurance Company, Not the Driver
You may worry that, if you sue the other driver directly, you’ll be limited in the damages you can recover. After all, if the only way to collect your damages is to pursue their assets, your hands may be tied. This is especially true if they don’t own any lucrative assets.
The good news is that your accident lawyer in Athens will be collecting damages from the insurance company. The only way they’ll settle is if the settlement amount is within their client’s policy limits.
It Can Be Confusing to Handle This All by Yourself
You can see now how difficult it would be to handle this all by yourself. There is no law that says you need to hire an Athens car accident attorney. You have every right to handle things on your own.
However, your odds of having your claim paid increase if you retain an accident lawyer in Athens. Not only do they have the necessary knowledge and experience, but they know how the insurance companies operate.
That’s Why We Suggest You Retain a Skilled Athens Car Accident Driver
Nobody should have to deal with the insurance company in the days and weeks following their car accident. You need to focus on recovering from your injuries. That’s why we suggest you call our seasoned accident lawyers in Athens before you do anything else.
The insurance company is hoping that you won’t hire an Athens car accident attorney. They assume they’ll be able to get away with denying your claim or underpaying it if you handle it yourself.
We do offer all new clients a free, initial consultation. Since the consultation is free of charge, you have nothing to lose.