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Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured Motorist Coverage Attorney – Role Explained

Read below or contact us 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

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, then you can avail yourself of UM 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, then you can apply that UM coverage to your case.

This is pretty straightforward. This often applies in cases such as when a parent’s uninsured motorist policy names a child for coverage, or when the child is in another person’s vehicle when the automobile accident occurs.

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.

If you reside in the same household with a relative who has UM coverage, then you can avail yourself of 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.

Your Employer’s Uninsured Motorist Policy May Provide You With UM Coverage

If 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).

Contact an Experienced Atlanta Uninsured Motorist Coverage Attorney for a Free and Confidential Consultation

Here at the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC, we have extensive experience handling a range of personal injury claims, including uninsured motorist coverage disputes.

Contact Atlanta uninsured motorist coverage attorney Walter Gabriel to find out if you have a case. Call 404-549-6742 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.