Many motorists do not actually realize that driving is a financial risk every time they get behind the wheel.
The number of uninsured and under-insured drivers on the national highways is astounding. Many consumer agencies estimate that approximately 15% of the licensed driving population drives with no auto insurance at all. Known in the insurance industry as “going naked,” the numbers of uninsured drivers are extremely high in certain areas of the country and extremely low in others.
Even within a specific state, percentages of uninsured drivers are exponentially higher in the economically depressed regions of the state, while being the opposite in areas of higher income populations.
Most drivers are compliant according to state law, but many of those are still carrying legal coverage minimums for bodily injury and property damage, and many states like Georgia have a very low coverage requirement. This combination means that being involved in a collision of any type can be an expensive problem for any driver.
Is Your State a “No Fault” Car Insurance State?
There are two types of doctrines used by states when settling auto accidents. While some states are purely “tort” states where a negligent driver who is at fault is responsible for compensating the injured victim, other states such as Georgia are “no fault” states.
Note: if you wonder what is tort law – read more in our blog post.
This means that an injured accident victim must look to their own auto insurance company for initial coverage. How much coverage you carry in a no-fault state is dependent on what policy you choose when purchasing insurance, so carrying the minimum 15/30/10 may not always be sufficient.
This legal condition will also put the injured driver in an adversarial situation with their own insurance company in some situations, so having an experienced personal injury auto accident attorney can ensure that all of your legal rights to compensation and coverage are recognized.
It is easy to accrue a medical bill of $15,000 in any level of accident, so the risk of financial hardship and lost assets is heightened when you only carry the state minimum coverage.
Do You Have Uninsured or Under-insured Coverage Protection?
Some drivers are adamant when it comes to purchasing uninsured or under-insured auto insurance protection, but the truth is that insurance companies are not required to inform drivers that the rider option is available.
Savvy insurance purchasers will always ask for this coverage, and it can be a major advantage in an accident when you are hit by an uninsured or under-insured driver. In Georgia, this is specifically important because of the low insurance coverage requirements. However, the court verifies when an accident is classified with this coverage and it normally takes an attorney to ensure the coverage will apply. The potential for accidents involving under-insured drivers in Georgia is as high as uninsured.
Can You Pursue Additional Compensation?
The short answer to this question is yes, but it may be reduced when comparative negligence is assessed by the court. Georgia is also a comparative negligence state, which means that you may be partially at fault when the second phase of the case is applied.
This percentage determination is anything but an exact science, as negligence is determined in percentage of fault. After your personal no-fault injury coverage is exhausted you can still sue the other driver.
If they have no assets as well as no insurance, then the court can issue a payment order for the primarily negligent driver. Of course, this will clearly complicate your case and having a solid personal injury attorney can help immensely with processing this legal action.
Also remember that no-fault PIP coverage from your personal policy only includes bodily injury, meaning a negligent driver may still be liable for property damage to your vehicle.
It is clear to see that the high number of drivers on the highway who risk the lives of others with little or no auto insurance coverage leaves other drivers in peril. Regardless of the reasons that certain areas have a high rate of uninsured drivers, it is always important to reassess your personal insurance coverage and update your policy every time you renew it.
And if you are in an accident involving an uninsured driver, call Singleton Law Firm in Alpharetta at (770) 889-6010.