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Being involved in a automobile accident can be a jarring event. Understanding What Steps to take after an Auto Accident is important.
Usually the auto accident will come out of nowhere when you least expect. More often than not you are so frightened that you stop thinking for a period of time and you are operating on adrenaline.
Of course, that is entirely understandable, but it is also crucial that you know what to do immediately following an auto accident.
While it will be difficult to navigate the incident there are certain actions that you should take to protect yourself and any other parties involved in the auto accident in the State of Georgia.
First, Georgia law requires you to stop and pull over to a safe place and turn on your emergency flashers to alert approaching motorist that an accident has occurred. You immediately call local law enforcement if anyone is killed, if there is an injury or if there is property damage greater than $500.
Render aid to others involved in the accident if you are able to do so. Last, give your name, address, license plate number and insurance information and drivers license number to the other driver and be sure to get their information.
As a practical matter, if there are no obvious serious injury or death involved it is the responsibility of the driver involved in the accident or any other occupant that have a valid drivers license to remove the vehicles from the roadway onto the shoulder, emergency lane or median or any other safe place if the vehicle can be moved safely and the vehicle is operable.
If the vehicle is incapacitated as a result of the accident with apparent serious injury or death it may not be moved until law enforcement officers have made the necessary measurements and diagrams required for the initial accident investigation.
Remember you are absolutely required to stay at the scene of the accident until all of the requirements have been met.
1. Should I call the at fault driver's insurance company after and Auto Accident?
You should have received the name of the liability insurance company and the policy number at the scene of the incident. If the insurance company does not call you first, call them. It is the responsibility of the other driver to report the accident to his/her insurance company. If they fail to do so, report the claim as soon as possible to start the process of repairs to your vehicle.
2. After an Auto Accident - What if the at fault driver does not have auto insurance?
If the at fault driver does not have insurance you will look to your own car insurance policy. Look on your policy Declaration page to determine is you elected to purchase uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage.
If you have UM coverage as a policy provision, your insurance company must pay your property damage and any bodily injury damages.
If your policy only covers liability insurance, there will be no coverage for your damages.
If the other driver does not have insurance and your policy does not have “uninsured coverage” there is no insurance available to compensate you for your damages.
3. After an Auto Accident - Will my premiums go up if I make an Uninsured Motorist Claim on my Auto Insurance Policy?
No. State prohibits an insurer from taking adverse actions against you for utilizing the uninsured motorist provision of your policy. Specifically protects you by stating that “No insurer shall increase the automobile insurance rate or premium . . . nor cancel such coverage due solely to the payment of any claim under uninsured motorist coverage.”
4. After an Auto Accident - Is the owner of the vehicle held responsible for my injuries too?
There are circumstances in which the owner of a vehicle could be held vicariously liable for the acts of someone else.
The State of Georgia recognizes The Family Purpose Doctrine under which one who has the right and duty of control or power to control a motor vehicle can be held liable for another family member’s actions in a motor vehicle under certain circumstance. The doctrine applies to family members in the immediate household, not just children.
There are certain components that must be meet in order for this doctrine to apply.
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5. What if neither driver has Auto Insurance?
The only option is for you to file a law suit against the at fault driver to recover your damages from him/her personally. Once you get a judgment against the person you can sue the court to collect on the judgment. Unfortunately, most people are rarely successful recovering damages from individuals.
6. What if the at fault driver does not have enough Auto Insurance to compensate me for my injuries?
Georgia law requires all motorist to have a minimum of $25,000 liability coverage. If you damages exceed the minimum amount, and you have “underinsured motorist” coverage under own personal policy, your insurance company will pay depending on the type of “underinsured motorist” coverage you have and the policy limits.
7. Will my auto insurance company pay me if I’m injured after an Auto Accident?
It is generally not your auto insurance company responsibility to pay you for damages if the at fault driver has auto insurance at the time of the accident.
You insurance will compensate you for damages under the “uninsured motorist” coverage assuming you have purchased that coverage and the at fault driver is uninsured. Additionally, your automobile insurance will pay your medical bills for services received relative to the car accident if you have medical payment coverage as apart of your policy.
At the time you purchased auto insurance you should have been given an option to purchase medical payment coverage in varying increments (ie $500, $1000, $2000 etc) to pay for medical care if you were involved in a car accident.
Check the Declaration Page of your policy to determine whether you have medical payment coverage.
8. Is the at fault driver’s car insurance company required to pay off the note on my car after an Auto Accident?
Generally speaking, the at fault driver’s insurance company does not have to pay off the loan on your car.
It is a wide held common misconception that the insurance company must pay off your car in order to make you whole. The insurance company is only required to pay the fair market value of the vehicle. It is possible that a balance remains on the loan after property damage settlement is finalized.
Unless you have Gap coverage that will make up the short fall, you will be responsible for paying off any remaining balance.
9. Does the at fault driver’s insurance company have to provide me a rental car?
Once the other driver’s insurance company accepts liability for the accident you will be place in a rental car.
Access to a rental car will generally last during the time period in which your car in the shop being repaired. The insurance company will pay a specified daily rental amount toward the rental fee. If you elect to rent a vehicle with a daily rental rate above the specified rate, you will be responsible for the difference. If the vehicle is deemed a total loss, payment on the rental car stops immediately and you must return the vehicle or make arrangements to pay for the rental fee yourself.
It can sometimes take a while for the insurance company to conclude their investigation to determine whether their insured was indeed at fault.
10. Does the at fault driver have to pay my medical bills?
Typically your medical bills will be paid from settlement proceeds at the time the case settles or after you win at trial.
There are also several other available options to pay your medical bills:
Watch Part Two of this Video | Download the Checklist