Is Georgia a No-Fault State?
If you are involved in a car accident in Georgia, you will need to know your rights are and your options for seeking damages – especially if you are severely injured. Like most states, Georgia is an “at-fault” jurisdiction. So, to recover compensation, you will first turn to the liability auto insurance coverage of the party (or parties) who caused your accident. Then, you may turn to your own insurance coverage if, for instance, the at-fault driver has no insurance or has insurance that fails to cover all of your losses.
To learn more and discuss the specific facts of your case, contact us today at Adamson & Cleveland, LLC. With nearly four decades of combined legal experience, we can provide a knowledgeable assessment of your case and help you to explore all available options in your case. Call or reach us online now and get started with a free consultation.
What Is the Difference Between At-Fault and No-Fault States?
It is important to know the difference between “at-fault” and “no-fault” states. These terms mainly refer to how auto insurance works when car accidents happen. Let’s start with taking a look at no-fault jurisdictions.
In a no-fault jurisdiction, each driver must first turn to his or her own insurer for compensation after a crash, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. In no-fault states, drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This insurance will cover a certain amount of bodily injury-related damages, including medical expenses and lost income – but, typically, it will not cover pain and suffering. Generally, to bring a claim against another driver and pursue pain and suffering damages, a driver in a no-fault state must have damages or injuries which exceed a certain threshold.
On the other hand, in an at-fault jurisdiction such as Georgia, your first option after a crash would be to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s liability auto insurance provider. When filing this claim, a driver can seek a full recovery of all damages, including medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.
A driver who causes a crash is liable for the damages that result. Injured parties can bring forth a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer for compensation, or may file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault party.
How Do Auto Insurance Claims Work in Georgia?
In Georgia, drivers must carry liability auto insurance in at least the following minimum amounts:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person
- $50,000 for bodily injury per accident (if two or more person are hurts)
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
If you are involved in a crash, then you will pursue compensation by bringing a claim for damages against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance. You may bring a personal injury lawsuit before or after you file a claim with the insurer.
What happens if the other driver doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for the full extent of your injuries and other damages? What if the driver flees the scene and cannot be identified?
If an uninsured or hit-and-run driver causes your crash, then you may be eligible to file an uninsured motorist (UM) claim with your own insurer. This insurance would cover your losses just as an at-fault driver’s insurance would have covered them – up to the limit of the UM insurance you have purchased.
If the driver’s insurance fails to cover all of your losses, then you could file an underinsured motorist (UIM) claim with your own insurer. Georgia allows for two types of UIM coverage – traditional and new. With a traditional policy, your UIM insurance is offset by the at-fault driver’s insurance.
For example, if you have $25,000 in traditional UIM, and the at-fault driver has $25,000 in liability coverage, the two policies would effectively cancel out each other. You would have only $25,000 in total coverage available to you.
On the other hand, if you have $25,000 in new UIM, it would stack on top of the at-fault driver’s $25,000 in insurance. So, you would have up to $50,000 in coverage available to you.
Georgia does not require drivers to carry UM/UIM coverage. You can reject the coverage in writing. However, to protect yourself in the event of a crash, it’s highly recommended that you get this coverage – and in amounts above the minimum which Georgia law requires.
How Do You Prove Fault in a Car Accident Claim?
Before you can recover compensation in a car accident claim in Georgia, you will have to prove the fault of the party against whose insurance you are seeking damages. If you cannot prove fault in a car accident, then you will be unable to recover compensation. Some examples of fault that often leads to car crashes includes:
- Texting while driving
- Drunk and drug-impaired driving
- Fatigued driving
- Making unsafe turns and lane changes
- Failing to yield where the law requires it
In order to prove that the driver in question committed one of these negligent acts, and that negligence caused your crash and injuries, you will need to collect certain types of evidence. For instance, a driver’s cell phone records could establish that the driver was distracted, and due to that distraction, the driver failed to notice that your car was stopped at a red light. Accident scene photos, dash-cam footage, witness statements, black box data and breathalyzer results can also be helpful evidence when it comes to establishing fault in car accidents.
What Happens If You Share Fault in a Car Accident?
Georgia is a modified comparative fault state. If you contribute to your crash, you can still recover compensation, so long as your degree of fault is not equal to or greater than the fault of the other driver (or drivers). However, while recovery will be permitted, you can only hold the defendant liable for damages in proportion to their degree of fault. For example, if you are found to be 10 percent at fault for the accident, then you can only hold the other party liable for 90 percent of your total damages award. At Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, we can help you to challenge claims of fault made against you in order to protect your right to your full damages award.
Get Help from a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you have been injured in a car accident, you need an experienced Georgia car accident attorney on your side. In addition to helping you understand fault laws, our lawyers at Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, can work with the insurance companies and aggressively pursue all compensation that you are due. Contact us today at our Norcross or Athens location to schedule your free consultation and learn more about how we can assist you.
Kevin Adamson is a former college baseball player who brings a competitive spirit to personal injury trials and settlement negotiations. Kevin played baseball at LaGrange College and went on to earn his MBA from Lynchburg College and his J.D. from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. Since 2001, he has focused on personal injury law and secured numerous six- and seven-figure results for his clients. He is also a registered arbitrator and mediator with extensive experience handling contract negotiations for a variety of professional services, including athletic contracts. Kevin also owns his own airplane and makes frequent use of it for his law practice, which has taken him to 18 states.