Georgia Law requires an individual to carry a minimum amount of $25,000 of automobile liability insurance. Liability insurance covers you when you are in an automobile accident, and it is determined that you are the driver found to be “at-fault” or the driver found to be liable for the collision. Assuming you have the minimum liability coverage, this means that your insurance will pay up to $25,000 in damages to the other driver on your behalf. For any amount in excess of the $25,000, you would then be potentially personally liable. With the mounting cost of medical expenses it is advisable to carry more than the minimum coverage of $25,000 in order to protect your assets. A simple fracture of an arm or leg that requires surgery can easily have associated medical expenses of $50,000 to $60,000. As a result, many Georgia drivers carry more than the minimal required coverage. These individuals have taken steps to protect themselves from personal liability and to ensure that the medical expenses and pain and suffering damages of those persons to whom they are liable are fulfilled. While these drivers have taken steps to protect themselves from personal liability, many have not taken that additional step to protect themselves from uninsured or underinsured drivers. Statistics vary, but it is estimated that the national average for uninsured drivers of automobiles is 14%. This means that as you travel on your daily errands, 14% of the vehicles you are passing do not have even the required $25,000 worth of automobile insurance. The figure for Georgia drivers is slightly better at 13%, but our neighboring states of Alabama (25%), Mississippi (25%), and South Carolina (28%) are far worse. If you are unfortunate enough to be struck by one of these drivers, you must then turn to your own insurance in order to recover medical expenses and pain and suffering damages.
Unlike liability insurance, uninsured or underinsured automobile insurance is not mandatory in Georgia. It is up to the individual driver to elect whether or not he or she would like to obtain it. Surprisingly, a large number of our clients do not carry it. Compared to liability insurance, it is relatively inexpensive and will protect YOU from drivers that do not carry adequate insurance or do not carry any insurance at all. If you are struck by a driver and it is determined that he or she does not have insurance, if your policy provides for uninsured coverage, you may then turn to your own insurance company to pay your medical expenses and to reimburse you for any lost wages or other pain and suffering that you endured as a result of your injuries. For example, if the other driver carried the minimum coverage of $25,000 and your medical expenses were $100,000, provided you had underinsured motorist coverage in the amount of $100,000, you could then look to your own insurance to supplement the $25,000 of insurance provided by the other driver. In order to protect yourself from other drivers that carry limited coverage or no coverage at all, it is highly recommended that you carry a sufficient amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your policy. In most cases, it is relatively inexpensive and will not add a great deal of expense to your monthly premiums. It is also advisable to make sure that your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is equal to your liability coverage.
Additionally, if you have recently been in an accident with an uninsured driver and you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, please check your policy carefully. If you did not specifically in writing waive uninsured or underinsured coverage, you may have a legal argument that you are entitled to it. Check with your agent and/or insurer today and make sure you are carrying uninsured/underinsured automobile insurance on your vehicle.
If you have been injured in an automobile accident, truck collision, or motorcycle accident and you have questions regarding automobile insurance, please don’t hesitate to call us today at Gentry, Smith, Dettmering, Morgan, Schnatmeier & Collins. Please feel free to ask to speak to me, John S. Morgan, or one of my other law partners. You may reach us at 770-771-5097.