I have handled over 1,000 cases through the years and one of the more frustrating scenarios involves having to explain to a client with a major injury like a cervical or lumbar disc herniation that the at fault driver only has minimum limits. As I have explained in my discussion on Georgia Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance, this is one of the major reasons why clients should carry $100,000 in UM insurance at a minimum. That said, many clients come to me after the crash and they only carried $25,000.00 in UM themselves. Herniated Disc cases in Georgia are worth more than $100,000.00 in most cases so the issue of available insurance coverages is a critical one for case evaluation.
For crashes that occurred prior to January 1, 2009 (when Georgia law changed) or for people that buy non-stacking UM coverage, the challenge became getting past the at fault driver’s $25,000.00 limits.
One argument that is gaining traction is the argument that if the client has to reimburse an outside party such as Medicare, Federal Workers Compensation Liens, Medical Liens etc., then to the extent that a check has to be written to those entities out of the recovery from the at fault driver, because those liens are not subject to the Georgia “made whole doctrine”, that dollar amount may be recovered against the Uninsured Motorist Coverage above and beyond the at fault driver’s limits. Toomer v. Allstate 292 Ga.App. 60 (2008) Toomer makes it clear that the argument is viable for Medicare liens and Federal Workers Comp claims, but it is still unclear if the Court of Appeals will apply the same logic to Medical Liens and Health Insurance Reimbursement Claims.
It will be interesting to see if Medical Liens and ERISA Self Funded Health Insurance Reimbursement claims will also qualify to allow older claims to dip into the uninsured motorist coverage that would otherwise be in the shadow of the torfeasor under the Bohannon decision. I will post updates as the issues are ruled on.
One thing is key to remember though. If you are having numbness and tingling into your hands you may have a disc herniation and an lawyer can help answer your questions about how to handle the case. A lawyer knows herniated disc cases require special expertise to be properly prosecuted. Please feel free to email or call for more information.