Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage Attorney in Atlanta, Georgia
Reach out for more information on how Atlanta uninsured motorist attorney Walter Gabriel finds different ways to get his clients access to UM coverage.
Only an experienced Atlanta uninsured motorist coverage attorney can explain your rights. Uninsured motorist coverage is truly a category of coverage that every driver should have. In fact, people are often surprised when they learn that they do not have uninsured motorist coverage when they respond that they have “full coverage.” The truth is, full coverage only encompasses auto insurance coverage that provides state minimums for liability coverage, comprehensive, and collision coverage.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11 governs Georgia’s laws on uninsured motorist coverage. It is a complicated and lengthy statute. Below is a breakdown of the main components of Georgia’s uninsured motorist statute:
Who Is Uninsured?
An uninsured automobile has no insurance applicable under the facts surrounding the occurrence. American Protection Ins. Co. v. Parker, 150 Ga. App. 732, 258 S.E.2d 540 (1979). In other words, this coverage applies when the driver who caused your personal injury did not have insurance, and this occurs under a number of scenarios:
At fault driver was uninsured.
Coverage Denial from At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company – Denial of coverage by a liability insurance carrier resulting from exhaustion of the available coverage by payment of other valid claims constitutes a “legal denial of coverage” under subdivision (b)(1)(D)(iii). Knight v. Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., 184 Ga. App. 312, 361 S.E.2d 190.
Hit and Run Driver who was Not Caught – When a hit and run occurs, this is treated by uninsured motorist insurers as when the at-fault driver did not have insurance coverage. Even though plaintiff knew the identity of the registered owner of the vehicle that hit him before he filed his lawsuit, because he did not see, and did not know, who was driving the vehicle at the time of the collision, he properly filed a “John Doe” action under the alternative language of the uninsured motorist statute. Finch v. Doe, 247 Ga. App. 298, 543 S.E.2d 105 (2000).
In these scenarios, if you have the coverage, you are able to get the uninsured motorist policy to cover your automobile repair bills if you have collision coverage, payment for medical bills if you have medpay or PIP, and payment for your medical bills, lost wages and your pain and suffering if you have uninsured motorist coverage. But your insurance company will not volunteer this information to you. This is why you need an experienced Atlanta uninsured motorist coverage attorney fighting for you.
Excess v. Reduced-by Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Excess or Add-On
Excess coverage, sometimes referred to in policies as “add-on” coverage, applies in addition to the limits of the at-fault driver’s coverage.
Take for example an at-fault driver who has $50,000 in liability coverage. If an injured person’s case value exceeds the $50,000 policy limits, then uninsured motorist coverage applies. If the injured person has $50,000 in excess uninsured motorist coverage, then this means that the injured person has a total of $100,000 in insurance coverage that is available to pursue.
Reduced by coverage applies if uninsured motorist coverage is more than the at-fault driver’s coverage. If a policy is “reduced by,” then the policy coverage is reduced by the limits of the at-fault driver’s coverage.
Take for example the same scenario above, where the at-fault driver has $50,000 in policy limits. If the injured person has $50,000 in uninsured motorist coverage, but the insurance policy is a “reduced-by” policy, then this means that the injured person has a total of only $50,000 in insurance coverage that is available to pursue. This is because courts hold that the $50,000 in uninsured motorist coverage is reduced by the $50,000 in liability limits, which means $0 is available in uninsured motorist coverage.
How to Get UM Coverage if it’s Not on Your Own Policy
What if you’re injured by a hit and run driver, or a driver who failed to obtain insurance coverage, and you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage? There are other ways to obtain uninsured motorist coverage. Atlanta uninsured motorist coverage attorney Walter Gabriel prepared the following list on different ways to get UM coverage:
If You’re a Driver or Passenger in A Vehicle that Has Uninsured Motorist Coverage
This applies in rideshare cases such as Lyft or Uber, who each have $1 million in uninsured motorist coverage for passengers who are transported for each company.
If Another Person’s UM Policy Names You
This is pretty straightforward. This often applies in cases such as when a parent’s uninsured motorist policy names a child for coverage.
Children of parents who are drivers or passengers in a vehicle that the parents do not own may claim their parents’ UM coverage if their parents name them on their policy. This applies regardless of whether the child is an adolescent, teenager, or adult.
Your Employer’s Uninsured Motorist Policy
In many cases, a vehicle provided by your employer may provide you with uninsured motorist coverage. Georgia courts have issued several favorable rulings when determining applicability of UM coverage. Also, O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11 mandates coverage even when the employer’s policy’s does not list the subject vehicle.
Take for example Doe v. Rampley, where the decedent, an insured under the employer’s UM policy, was driving a truck furnished by his employer. It did not matter to the Court that the vehicle was owned by a third party, and that the vehicle was not listed as a covered vehicle under the policy. What the Court did factor, however, was that the employee was driving a vehicle that was furnished by his employer. Doe also held that the coverage attaches to the insured regardless of his location, insofar as the injured person need not be in the insured automobile. Wagner v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Ins. Co. cited Doe v. Rampley and agreed with Hinton in its holding that “uninsured motorist statutes are remedial in nature and must be broadly construed to accomplish the legislative purpose.”
Also, in White v. Metro. c. Ins. Co., 266 Ga. 371, 373 (467 SE2d 333) (1996), the Georgia Supreme Court held that UM coverage for an injury caused by an uninsured motorist could not be excluded, although the vehicle occupied by the injured person was owned by another company and had been deleted from the insured’s automobile policy. White v. Metro. c. Ins. Co., 266 Ga. 371, 373 (467 SE2d 333) (1996) (Emphasis added).
If You Reside in The Same Household with A Relative Who Has UM Coverage
In determining whether a relative is a resident of the named insured’s household, a court generally considers both the language of the insurance policy and the aggregate details of the family’s living arrangements. Daniel v. Allstate Ins. Co., 290 Ga. App. 898.
Georgia’s resident relative UM provisions can apply to your case in a number of ways:
This rule applies to spouses who live in the same household, even when one is not on the other’s UM policy.
Siblings may also avail themselves of the resident relative rule.
It is even possible for adult stepchildren to avail themselves of the resident relative rule for getting uninsured motorist coverage. Boston v. Allstate Ins. Co., 218 Ga. App. 726.
In the context of extended family, “the husband is related by affinity to the blood relatives of the wife, and the wife is likewise related to the blood relatives of the husband. Rutledge v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 249 Ga. App. 361. Furthermore, uninsured motorist coverage applies not only to the owner of an insured automobile but to his spouse and relatives of either if they live in his household. It covers them while riding in the insured car, or in any other automobile or while pedestrians if the injury is caused by an uninsured motorist. American Protection Ins. Co. v. Parker, 150 Ga. App. 732, 258 S.E.2d 540 (1979).
The named insured and, while resident of the same household, the spouse of any such named insured and relatives of either” are insured persons even where the “insured automobile” is not in any way involved in the insured’s injuries. Gulf Am. Fire & Cas. Co. v. McNeal, 115 Ga. App. 286, 154 S.E.2d 411 (1967).
Two important caveats follow with every scenario involving the resident relative rule:
Relatives Are Not Covered Unless They Are Residents of The Same Household, and The Resident Is Not Covered Unless the Resident Is a Relative.
The clause, “resident of the same household,” does not apply to a relative, however close, living elsewhere, nor to a resident of the same household who is not a member of the family. Cotton States Mut. Ins. Co. v. McEachern, 135 Ga. App. 628, 218 S.E.2d 645 (1975).
Courts Do Not Require Permanent Residence of The Relative in Question.
Evidence that the insured’s stepson intended to live in his stepfather’s house until his divorce was final created a question of fact as to whether he was a “resident relative” at the time of the accident; neither the policy language at issue nor state law required the stepson to live with his stepfather permanently in order to qualify. Boston v. Allstate Ins. Co., 218 Ga. App. 726, 463 S.E.2d 155 (1995).
Find out if uninsured motorist coverage applies to your case. Call 404-549-6742 or submit a case evaluation form online to request a free consultation with an experienced Atlanta uninsured motorist coverage attorney at the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel.
Contact an Experienced Atlanta Uninsured Motorist Coverage Attorney for a Free and Confidential Consultation
Contact Atlanta uninsured motorist coverage attorney Walter Gabriel to find out if you have a case. Call or submit a case evaluation form online to request a free and confidential consultation with a skilled Atlanta personal injury lawyer at the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC today.
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Atlanta Uninsured Motorist Coverage Attorney
If you were in an accident with an uninsured motorist, you may still be able to collect compensation for your losses. The experienced personal injury lawyers at the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel can help. In Georgia, it’s estimated that 12% of drivers are not insured. And, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts, drivers often don’t have insurance because they can’t afford it.
If you were hit by an uninsured driver, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance company under your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. You may also be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
How an Uninsured Motorist Accident Lawyer Can Help
An uninsured motorist accident lawyer can help you understand your legal options and get the compensation you deserve.
Here are some ways an attorney can help:
Investigate the accident and gather evidence, including eyewitness testimony, to build a strong case
Handle all communication with the insurance company, so you can focus on your recovery
Determine the full value of your losses, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more
Negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company or take your case to trial if necessary
The personal injury lawyers at the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel have been helping accident victims in Atlanta for years. He has the experience and resources to get you the best possible outcome in your case.
Contact us today for a FREE consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. He does not charge a fee unless he wins your case.
If You Were Injured in a Car Accident and the Driver Had No Insurance, What Should You Do?
If you or a loved one has been injured in any car accident, you should take the following steps:
Call the police or law enforcement and have them make a report. This will serve as a record of the accident.
Exchange information with the other driver, if you can. Do not engage or quarrel with the driver. Just get the facts. Sometimes drivers don’t have insurance because they don’t have a license.
Take as many photos as possible and write down the names and numbers of any witnesses.
Do NOT make a recorded statement to any insurance company, including your own, without first consulting a personal injury attorney.
An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to guide you through the process and ensure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries. If you try to handle the case on your own, the insurance company may take advantage of you and offer you a low settlement. Don’t let this happen – get an attorney involved from the start.
What Is the Law in Georgia for Uninsured Motorist (UM) & Under-Insured Motorist (UIM) Insurance Policies?
The state of Georgia requires all drivers to carry auto insurance. Unfortunately, the insurance requirement is quite low. Drivers are required to carry a minimum of $25,000 for Bodily Injury Liability of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per occurrence, and Property Damage liability of $25,000 per occurrence.
Anyone who has been injured in an auto accident knows that $25,000 doesn’t go far when paying for a moderate or severe injury. Unfortunately, that’s the law. This means if you break your leg and the medical bills are $50,000, the under-insured driver’s policy will pay out $25,000 to you.
Purchasing Additional UM Coverage
As a driver, it’s important to be prepared for anything that may happen on the road. One of the best ways to do this is to purchase additional auto insurance coverage for uninsured motorists and under-insured motorists (UM).
If you’re involved in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your damages, you could be left holding the bill. A personal injury attorney can assist in a claim against the driver, even if he appears to have little or no assets. Give a car accident attorneys a call, and let’s look at your options.
If the Insurance Company Says Their Client Is only Insured for A Limited Amount, Should You Take Their Offer?
The insurance company might say that their client is only insured for a limited amount, but you should never agree to a settlement without consulting a personal injury attorney first. Once you agree to take the settlement, you are closing the door on getting any more money for this accident. Often, people take a settlement before they understand the full extent of their injuries. There might also be other policies you can recover from, but you might not be aware of them at the time.
If the Driver Who Hit You Is in Jail, Can You Still Collect Compensation?
If the driver who hit you is in jail, you can still file a personal injury claim against him. In fact, drivers who break the law are potentially liable to pay additional damages, called punitive damages—which are meant to punish the offender.
Punitive damages are not available in every state, but if they are an option in your state, you may be able to collect them if the driver who hit you was breaking the law at the time of the accident. For example, if the driver was speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol, he or she may be subject to punitive damages. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a driver who is in jail, you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your rights and options.
If You Have Uninsured/under-Insured Coverage, Can You Just Contact Your Own Insurance Company, Rather than Go Through a Lawyer?
If you have uninsured/under-insured coverage, you may be able to contact your own insurance company, rather than go through a lawyer. However, it is still advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney who has experience dealing with insurance companies. An attorney can help you take a look at your policy and work with your insurer to make sure you get the best possible settlement.
Remember that an insurance company always wants to settle for the least amount of money quickly. You may not even know the full extent of your injuries when you are presented with their best offer. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced advocate on your side who can fight for a fair settlement.
Why Should You Consult with An Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney if You Were Injured by An Uninsured Motorist?
You have been injured by an uninsured motorist. That means you are dealing with someone who is vastly irresponsible. No one should be driving without the proper coverage. Even with your own UM coverage, you will be dealing with your own insurance company. A longtime personal injury attorney is painfully aware that insurance carriers’ first loyalty is to the company, not the client. Arm yourself with the guidance of an Atlanta personal injury attorney before you go up against these opponents.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can investigate whether other assets can be pursued, such as the driver’s employer if they were on the job at the time of the accident. You need an advocate on your side who knows how to deal with these situations.
Call the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel today for a free consultation. He will review your case and give you an honest evaluation of your chances of success. There is no obligation, and he only get paid if he recovers compensation for you. Don’t go up against the insurance companies alone – call us today.
What Type of Compensation Can You Receive?
In all personal injury accident claims, you are eligible to receive payments for all reasonable and necessary medical costs resulting from the accident, including future costs. If you lose time off work, you are eligible for lost wages and income if properly documented. And you are eligible for pain and suffering damages.
You can receive compensation for a variety of damages if you were injured in a car accident. This includes damage to your vehicle, medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. If you lost a loved one in the accident, you may also be able to file a wrongful death claim. Speak with an experienced car accident attorney to learn more about the types of compensation you may be entitled to.
Will Your Insurance Rates Increase if You File an Uninsured Motorist (UIM) Claim?
No, your insurance rates will not increase if you file an uninsured motorist (UIM) claim. This is because, under Georgia law, your insurance company cannot raise your rates for filing a UIM claim if the accident was not your fault. You have paid your premium to cover such a situation, so you should not have to worry about your rates increasing. If you have any questions about your specific situation, please contact the office to speak with an experienced attorney.
How Much Do Attorney Fees Cost?
If you’re working with a plaintiff attorney on a contingency basis, you can expect to pay a fee of 33-40% of your total recovery. If there is no settlement, the firm will cover the costs. This arrangement allows people who may not have the resources to pay upfront fees to still access legal representation.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
Many accident victims in Atlanta make the mistake of not consulting a car accident lawyer after a collision. Worrying about high legal fees is one reason they don’t hire Atlanta car accident attorneys. Some victims may feel they are well-versed with both federal and Georgia state laws, deeming themselves fit to represent their interests in and out of court.
If you have been hit by an uninsured driver, seek legal counsel from an experienced uninsured motorist accident lawyer. Remember, auto accident laws are complicated. It may take you years to understand them. Let Walter Gabriel’s experience work for you so that you can focus on your recovery.
Additionally, insurance companies are not always on your side. Their adjusters are skilled at finding ways to minimize the amount they must pay you. An experienced car accident lawyer will even the playing field and ensure you get the full and fair compensation you deserve.
Finally, if you go to court, having a lawyer by your side significantly increases your chances of winning your case and receiving the maximum compensation possible. So, if you have been in a car accident, don’t wait to seek legal counsel. The sooner you do, the better your chances of getting the outcome you deserve.
Do I Have a Negligence Case Against an Uninsured Driver?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by an uninsured driver, you may be wondering if you have any legal recourse. The answer depends on a few factors, but you may be able to file a negligence lawsuit against the driver.
To succeed in a negligence case, you will need to prove that the driver owed you a duty of reasonable care, that they breached that duty, and that their breach caused an accident that resulted in your injuries. If you can prove all these things, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries.
Georgia courts have interpreted the duty of reasonable care to mean avoiding any behavior that needlessly endangers the safety of others. This means that anyone who breaks a traffic rule or drives in an unsafe manner could be found negligent if they cause an accident. If you believe you have a case against an uninsured driver, it’s important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and get the compensation you deserve.