How Can I Protect Myself If I Am In An Accident With An Uninsured Driver?

This question is very common. Nearly 12% of all Georgia drivers do not have car insurance coverage.  This means that if you are involved in an accident, there is a 1 in 8 chance that the other driver will be someone who does not have proper insurance to cover the expenses that result from the accident.

What does the law require?

Georgia law requires that all drivers have the following coverage for their vehicles:

  • Bodily injury liability: $25,000 per person | $50,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability: $25,000 per person

This means that if you are involved in an auto accident, it is likely that the at-fault driver’s policy will only be able to cover up to $25,000 of your medical expenses. If you had 3 passengers in your vehicle and all 4 of you suffered injuries as a result of the at-fault driver’s negligence, it is possible that there is only $50,000 to cover everyone’s medical expenses.

Can The Uninsured Or Underinsured Motorist Be Made To Pay?

It can be very difficult to collect a debt for medical expenses, lost wages, or property damages from an uninsured or underinsured driver. Such costs would have to be paid out of the at-fault driver’s own pocket, and it is unlikely that someone who cannot afford proper auto insurance could cover those expenses. They might even file for bankruptcy to avoid having to pay.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

One of the easiest ways to protect yourself in accident against someone who does not have car insurance is to have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage through your own insurance company. This type of coverage is typically listed as “UM/UIM” on your policy, and it provides insurance that the uninsured/underinsured at-fault driver should have had.

If you have UM/UIM coverage as part of your own policy, then you could file a claim with your own insurance company to cover any medical expenses, lost wages, or property damage costs that the at-fault driver’s insurance policy is not able to cover. Too often, however, we analyze a client’s insurance policy and see that the UM/UIM coverage has been expressly rejected. In that case, your options for recovering the expenses are limited to the at-fault driver’s policy and his or her personal assets.

Added-On vs. Reduced Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage

Ensuring that your own car insurance policy includes UM/UIM coverage is not the final step. Georgia drivers have two options when choosing UM/UIM coverage: added-on or reduced. What does this mean?

The “added-on UM/UIM coverage” (also known as stacking or excess coverage) means that your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage will be added to any at-fault liability coverage that the other driver has.

  • For example: if the at-fault driver has a $25,000 policy and you have an added-on UM/UIM policy for $100,000, then you can potentially receive up to $125,000 to cover your expenses.

The “reduced UM/UIM coverage” (also known as non-stacking or traditional coverage) means that your UM/UIM coverage is reduced by the at-fault liability coverage that the other driver has.

  • For example: if the at-fault driver has a $25,000 policy and you have a reduced UM/UIM policy for $100,000, then you can potentially only receive up to $75,000 to cover your expenses.

Be sure to review your own car insurance policy today and call the Don Turner Legal Team at (770) 594-1777 if you have any questions.

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