I often get phone calls from panicked at-fault drivers who have been served with a lawsuit after their insurance company did not settle the case with the person they hit. It is important to be aware of these things if you have been contacted by a person claiming they were injured in a car accident you caused or if you have been sued, you should follow these guidelines:
1) CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE: This applies even if there was hardly any damage at all. You do not want to give them an excuse not to defend and indemnify you.
2) FREE DEFENSE: All GA car insurance policies, even a minimum limits $25,000.00 policy, must provide you with a free lawyer if you are sued.
3) INDEMNIFICATION UP TO THE LIMITS YOU PURCHASED: The insurance carrier will indemnify you up to the policy limits amount. Indemnify means to compensate for loss or damage; to provide security for financial reimbursement to an individual in case of a specified loss incurred by the person. In the situation where you have minimum limits of $25,000.00, the insurance company will provide a lawyer to you at no cost under the “duty to defend” and you will get covered up to the limits. If you have a $50,000.00 policy and the jury awards $65,000.00, then $15,000 of the judgment will be entered against you after your insurance company pays out.
4) FIND OUT ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE BEING SUED FOR: If there is a claim against you or you are sued, make sure you find out from your insurance company: 1) what is the claimed injury, 2) what are the total medical bills and lost wages, 3) what does insurance company think the case is worth? 4) have they made any offers?
5) WRITE YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY A LETTER: If you have low limits, then write your insurance company a letter telling them that you expect them to pay the policy limits out if they have a chance to get you a release or a limited liability release. If your insurance company refuses to pay the policy limits out to protect you after the injured person’s lawyer demands the limits and there is a verdict for an amount over your limits (an excess verdict”, in some instances you can sue your insurance company for failing to protect you.
6) HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE: Your homeowner’s insurance does not play a role in debts you owe because of a car accident in Georgia.