Who Pays for the Damages to My Car After an Accident?
Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience, and it’s normal to have lots of questions. One of the most common questions is, Who will pay for the damages to my car after an accident?
If your car has been damaged in an accident, it is important to understand Georgia laws and know how liability for the damages is determined. The Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC can provide assistance through the insurance claims process to help you get the compensation you deserve for your damaged vehicle. Attorney Walter Gabriel has offices throughout the state of Georgia, including several in Atlanta, one in Dunwoody, and one in Alexandria, Louisiana.
Georgia Is a Fault State
Georgia law follows a fault-based system, meaning that responsibility for the damages rests with the driver who caused the accident. This means that if you were involved in an accident where you were not at fault and you sustained damage to your vehicle, you must file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. They are responsible for covering any costs associated with repairing your vehicle.
However, filing an insurance claim is not the only option you have for recovering car repair expenses and other damages. There are also some situations in which it may be appropriate to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver:
The driver does not have enough insurance to pay for all the damages you have sustained; or
The driver does not have any insurance at all.
In any of these situations, suing the at-fault driver may be the only viable option to obtain adequate compensation for your damages and losses.
Auto Insurance Requirements in Georgia
In order to register and operate a motor vehicle in Georgia, motorists must have liability insurance coverage that meets the minimum requirements established by law. According to the Office of Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire, minimum insurance requirements for liability insurance in Georgia include:
Bodily injury liability insurance coverage of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident; and
Property damage liability insurance coverage of at least $25,000.
Additionally, some lenders and leasing companies require borrowers to carry comprehensive and collision coverage on financed/leased vehicles. It is important to understand what type of auto insurance policy you have so that you know your rights after an accident.
Physical Damage Insurance in Georgia
Motorists in Georgia also have the option of purchasing physical damage insurance, which helps pay for damages or losses to their vehicle. Georgia recognizes “comprehensive” and “collision” physical damage insurance:
Comprehensive insurance pays for car repairs caused by vandalism, theft, fire-related losses, and anything other than collisions; and
Collision insurance pays for car repairs caused by vehicle collisions.
Although Georgia law does not require motorists to carry any of these two types of physical damage coverage, many lenders or leasing companies do. Thus, you may have comprehensive or collision coverage as part of your insurance policy if your vehicle is financed or leased.
Options for Covering the Repair Expenses
There are several options for covering the repair expenses after an accident in Georgia. Under Georgia law, you can file a property damage claim separately from a personal injury claim. Thus, even if you have not been injured, you can still obtain compensation for the damages to your car by filing a property damage claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company. That’s the first option.
However, if the other driver does not have enough (or any) insurance to cover your repair expenses, it may be more appropriate to file a lawsuit. That’s the second option. The third option is available to those who have physical damage coverage as part of their insurance policy. If that’s the case, the motorist can file a claim under their own physical damage coverage to obtain compensation, even if the other driver is at fault for the accident.
The Amount That’s Covered Is Based on the Value of Your Car
In some cases, it may be more cost-effective for an insurance company to pay the estimated value of your vehicle rather than actually repairing it. This typically happens when a vehicle has been severely damaged (or totaled) and its estimated value is less than what it would cost to make repairs.
Insurance companies use various methods for determining a vehicle’s estimated value so they can make an informed decision about whether it should be repaired or replaced. However, you might want to contact a knowledgeable attorney and ask them for an independent valuation.
Can You Get a Rental After a Car Accident?
In most cases, yes. If you are able to file a claim against another driver’s insurance company, then you may be eligible for a rental car reimbursement while your vehicle is being repaired. Be sure to review the insurance policy before taking advantage of this option as there may be certain restrictions that apply depending on the coverage.
Discuss Your Unique Situation With an Attorney
If you have been involved in an automobile accident in Georgia and are wondering who will pay for damage done to your car, Attorney Walter Gabriel can help. Each situation is unique, which is why you might want to consult with an experienced attorney before making any decisions about how to best move forward with your claim. Reach out to The Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC to schedule a free and confidential consultation today.