Welcome to 2023! It’s another new year filled with hope and promise. As you set your goals and priorities for the next 12 months, we strongly recommend that you reevaluate your auto insurance coverage. As a personal injury law firm, we are seeing more and more drivers carrying minimum coverage and the effect it has when they are involved in an accident. We want to make sure you are protected by having the right auto insurance coverage.
We get it – insurance coverage can be expensive and many think, “that will never happen to me.” However, Georgia’s roads are among the most dangerous in the country. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, in 2020, motor vehicle crashes were the second leading cause of injury deaths and the second leading cause of hospitalizations and ER visits in the state. Also, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that Georgia ranked fourth in the country for the highest amount of traffic fatalities. The bottom line – accidents happen frequently in Georgia. And these accidents can result in serious injuries or worse.
As a law firm that deals with this daily, we implore you to review your coverage and add Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage if you don’t have it. UM coverage protects you and your family – not the other driver. We’ll explain further below but first, let’s cover the basics.
Georgia is an “at-fault” state. In short, this means that whoever is at fault for causing a car accident is responsible and liable for any injuries to others and/or property damages (e.g., damages to vehicles or other items). As such, the at-fault person’s auto insurance policy will cover these damages.
Georgia law requires that all drivers carry auto insurance and that each policy contains a minimum amount of coverage for liability. Accordingly, these amounts are:
The coverage outlined above represents the bare requirements under Georgia law. Drivers have the option to buy higher levels of liability insurance, and we recommend that you purchase as much liability insurance as you can afford. Unfortunately, most Georgia drivers only carry the minimum amount of coverage or no coverage at all. This is why it is extremely important that you have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage.
As previously stated, all Georgia drivers must insure their automobiles. Unfortunately, not everyone follows the law. Those that do follow the law, more often than not, have only minimum coverage. This is where UM coverage comes into play. For example, if you find yourself injured from an auto accident and the at-fault driver only has $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage but you have medical bills far greater than $25,000, there is a huge gap in the money available to pay your bills and the amount owed. If you have UM insurance, that money is available to you to cover the difference.
UM insurance protects you, your family, and your passengers if injured by a negligent driver who has low policy limits (as described above) or no insurance at all. Let me repeat: UM insurance that you purchase is to protect you and your family. While Georgia law does not require it, we strongly recommend that you purchase Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist insurance.
Besides the required insurance (Bodily Injury Liability and Property Damage Liability) and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist insurance, Georgia drivers have the option to purchase additional coverage. For example, you can add Physical Damage coverage to your policy. There are two types of Physical Damage coverage – Comprehensive and Collision.
As the term suggests, Collision insurance covers damage to your automobile resulting from a collision. Comprehensive insurance covers non-collision damage to your automobile such as vandalism or theft. While Physical Damage coverage is not required by law, an auto leasing company or a bank may require it as terms of your vehicle’s financing. But regardless of whether your lender requires it, you NEED Comprehensive and Collision coverage. Odds are that your car will get damaged at some point. Without Comprehensive and Collision coverage, you will likely have to pay for the damage or buy a replacement vehicle yourself.
Auto accidents happen and can have a devastating impact on your life whether you are the victim or you are at fault. Not only do people experience life-altering injuries, but they can also face financial hardship from which they may be unable to recover. For these reasons, auto insurance is critically important and is the only tool that can really protect you. Please take the beginning of the new year to review your auto policy and take the steps necessary to get the protection you and your family deserve.
Bryan Baer, principal and founding partner of The Baer Law Firm, has over 20 years of experience litigating catastrophic injury and medical malpractice cases. He has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for his clients, earning his membership in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Bryan has earned a Super Lawyer designation since 2016 as well as Georgia Trends Legal Elite. He has also received a Top 40 Under 40 designation from The National Trial Lawyers in 2014 and is one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.