A common theme on the billboards and TV advertisements of personal injury law firms is that car accident lawyers promise to help you stand up for your rights and get the money to which you are entitled after a car accident. If you look more closely, you will realize that these commercial messages usually do not include the word “lawsuit.” In other words, the stereotype that personal injury lawyers spend their days looking for people to sue falls apart before you even read all the way to the end of a billboard.
In many cases, personal injury attorneys are able to help clients get the money they need after a car accident without ever interacting with a judge or an employee of the court. This is because driving a car is risky enough that car insurance is ubiquitous, and the law even requires drivers to carry certain types of insurance. Despite this, getting the insurance companies to pay you as much money as you need and as much as you have a right to receive is no simple task. A Riverdale car accident lawyer can help you deal with insurance companies so that you can get an adequate insurance settlement as quickly and with as little stress as possible.
What Does the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Cover?
If you have ever been sick enough to require medical treatment, you have probably thought, “Thank goodness I have health insurance.” With car accidents, it is not quite that simple. The car insurance that all Georgia drivers must carry is liability insurance. This means that it pays for the vehicle damage and bodily injuries that you cause. In other words, if you are at fault for the accident, then it is the other driver’s good fortune that you carry the insurance coverage that the law requires you to carry.
After an accident, the logical thing to do is to file a claim with your insurance company, but most likely, your insurance company will not be the one paying. Instead, your insurance company will communicate with the other driver’s insurance company, and the payment for your claim will come from the other driver’s insurance. The best-case scenario is that you do not bear any fault for the accident, and the at-fault driver’s insurance pays for all your vehicle repairs and, if you got injured, for all of your accident-related medical bills.
Does Your Own Insurance Cover Your Accident-Related Medical Bills?
In Georgia, drivers have the option to buy medical payments insurance, also known as MedPay, but the law does not require it. It is a good idea to buy MedPay insurance, but you cannot apply it retroactively to accidents that occurred before you bought the MedPay policy. MedPay insurance covers the bills related to the treatment of your own injuries after an accident. Therefore, it covers all kinds of medical bills, including doctor’s office visits, hospital stays, emergency room visits, prescription drugs, physical therapy, and medical devices. It does not, however, cover any lost income if you must miss work because of your injuries. Some employers offer short-term disability benefits, so if you have this coverage through your job, it can provide you with at least a portion of your salary until you are able to return to work.
What if You Were Partially at Fault for the Accident?
Georgia law acknowledges that, in most cases, it takes two to cause a collision. Therefore, Georgia follows the rule of modified comparative negligence. This means that if you were partially at fault for the accident, the other driver’s insurance will pay your claim, but it will only cover (100-X)% of your accident-related financial losses, with X being the percentage of fault you bear for the accident. For example, if Alex is 10% at fault for the accident, and Billie is 90% at fault, then Billie’s insurance company will pay Alex a settlement that will cover 90% of the cost of his vehicle repairs and medical bills.
The “modified” part of modified comparative negligence means that the rule where you can still get a settlement only applies if the accident was less than 50% your fault. In the above scenario, Billie, who was 90% at fault for the accident, cannot file a claim with Alex’s company, even if her vehicle repairs and medical bills stemming from the accident cost more than Alex’s. If she has MedPay insurance, though, she can file a claim with her own MedPay insurance policy.
What if the Insurance Payout is Not Enough?
The minimum liability insurance requirements in Georgia are $25,000 in property damage per accident and the lesser of $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident in bodily injury. Just because your medical bills add up to less than $25,000, it does not mean that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will write you a check that covers all your medical bills with no questions asked. Insurance companies are in the business of finding any excuse to pay you less. Sure, they will pay for the emergency room visit, but if you are still having back pain several months after the accident, it must be because you are no spring chicken and not because of the accident.
If an insurance company offers you an inadequate settlement, do not sign the settlement offer letter because if you do, you are officially acknowledging that the settlement amount is appropriate. Instead, you should have a personal injury attorney negotiate with the insurance company to get you a better settlement. Talk of lawsuits only begins when your injuries are so severe that the medical bills are more than $25,000; injuries like these often require a prolonged absence from work, so plaintiffs in car accident lawsuits often also request damages for lost income.
Contact 770 Good Law About Car Accident Cases
If you need help getting your car accident insurance claim paid, you need a car accident lawyer. Contact 770 Good Law, the Law Office of H. Q. Alex Nguyen and Associates, LLC, in Riverdale, Georgia, to discuss your case.