A few years ago a woman I know was in a pretty rough car accident. Two days after she had major surgery and less than a week after the accident, the other party called her. He was uninjured, he assured her, and he wanted to see how she was faring. When asked about his own welfare, he said, “Oh I’m fine, don’t you worry about me. I was back out on the tractor the next day.”
Imagine her surprise, then, when she was served with a paperwork a couple of months later: She was now a defendant in an accident-related lawsuit. Noting the amount of damages the plaintiff was seeking, she felt sick.
Not everyone is aware of this, but all insurance companies come with a legal team at their disposal. Some even have representation several bodies deep and raring to go. Sometimes all it takes for a case to go to court is a few dollars more -literally- than an insurance company is willing to pay.
I’m going to share six things with you that anyone involved in a Georgia car accident needs to know, in case you end up facing a lawsuit.
- Always contact your car insurance company immediately after a wreck, most especially if there was damage. Follow their advice. This protects you in the case that you are sued or have to sue later down the line; don’t give an insurance company reason to not defend and indemnify you.
- All car insurance policies, even minimum limits policies, will provide you with a free lawyer in the event that you are sued. If you receive any legal notices or correspondence from the other party’s attorney, immediately call your insurance provider….preferably your local agent.
- Your insurance company will indemnify you up to the policy’s limit amount. In a lawsuit where the policy has minimum limits, the insurer will provide an attorney at no cost under their “duty to defend.” Any amounts that are awarded to a plaintiff over and above your policy amount will be entered against you after insurance payouts. In a lawsuit where the policy has minimum limits, the insurer will provide an attorney at no cost under their “duty to defend.” Any amounts that are awarded to a plaintiff over and above your policy amount will be entered against you after insurance payouts.
- If there is a claim against you or you’re sued, make sure you find out from your insurance company:
- What are the claimed injuries?
- What are the gross medical bills and lost wages?
- What is the insurance company’s assessment of the case?
- How does your insurance company plan to protect you?
If you don’t have much coverage, you need to write your insurance company a letter. In the letter you need to clearly state that you expect them to pay to policy limits if there is a chance that will get you a release or limited liability release.
- In Georgia, your homeowner’s insurance has nothing to do with debts you owe as a result of a Georgia car wreck.
- In some cases, if your insurance company refuses to pay up to policy limits after an injured party’s lawyer demands the limits and there is an excess verdict in your resulting court case, you can sue your insurer for failing to protect you.
The woman I mentioned before? She ended up winning her lawsuit and now says that she learned a powerful lesson from the whole experience: Insurance companies are concerned with numbers and numbers only. She wasn’t a client sitting at that table, she was profit or loss and she was a statistical number that the insurance company got to plug into its yearly data.
If you start to feel like your best interests aren’t being served by your insurance company and their counsel, you need to contact an experienced Atlanta accident and injury attorney to assist you.