When someone is involved in a Georgia car accident and needs to go after their Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist insurance, immediate notice is required. If you fail to put them on notice, your entire claim can be denied. Insurance companies are for-profit corporations, and they rely on taking in more money in premiums each month than they pay out in claims. One of the key defenses to UM claims is the argument that the insured failed to give notice of a crash. This often happens because the person injured was in another vehicle and simply did not realize they might one day need access to their UM insurance. The insurance companies are vicious when it comes to enforcing this provision.
Most policies require immediate notice or notice within 60 days of the crash. When an insurance claim is denied, a personal injury lawsuit has to be filed in an attempt to compel the insurance company to honor the contractual agreement contained in the policy.
It is important for Georgia accident victims to understand the language in their insurance policy, and to comply with any requirements after an accident. If a plaintiff fails to comply with the requirements of their policy, the insurance company may have grounds to deny the claim. A recent car accident case in the Court of Appeals illustrates the difficulties an accident victim may encounter if these requirements are not precisely followed.
In this appeals case, the trial court’s decision to throw the case out was overturned on the argument that the insured did not know that her injury was serious and might need the UM coverage.
The Facts of the Case
In April 2015, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident with another motorist whom she claimed to be at fault for the collision. A week or two after the accident, the plaintiff sought medical treatment from a neurologist. However, despite treatment, her symptoms persisted, and she was unable to return to work.
In April 2016, the plaintiff first provided notice of the claim to her own insurance company. The policy against which the claim was filed provided that “no legal action may be brought against the company concerning any of the coverages provided until the insured has fully complied with all the terms of the policy.” One term of the policy was that the insured must provide immediate notice of the claim to the insurance company.
The plaintiff’s insurance company disputed her claim, arguing that the plaintiff had failed to precisely comply with the terms of the policy because she did not immediately notify them of the pending claim against the at-fault driver. The trial court agreed with the insurance company, and the plaintiff’s case was dismissed. The plaintiff then appealed to a higher court.
On appeal, the court considered several issues. First, the court agreed with the insurance company that immediate notice of any claim was required under the policy language and that the plaintiff failed to provide such notice by waiting almost a year. However, that did not end the court’s inquiry. The court then went on to discuss whether the plaintiff’s failure to provide immediate notice was excused. The court explained that, although ignorance of an insurance policy’s requirements cannot excuse a failure to comply, a plaintiff’s lack of knowledge concerning the seriousness of her injuries may justify her failing to provide immediate notice.
Here, the court noted that the plaintiff’s evidence suggested that she may not have known about the seriousness of her injuries until after learning that the treatment she obtained failed to remedy her symptoms. Thus, the court held that a jury should determine whether the plaintiff was excused from providing immediate notice and that the case should not have been dismissed. Thus, the court reversed the lower court’s decision and ordered that the case proceed to trial for resolution.
Are You Involved in an Insurance Dispute?
If you are currently dealing with a difficult insurance company after being involved in a serious Georgia car accident, you should contact Attorney Christopher Simon. Attorney Simon is a dedicated Georgia personal injury lawyer with decades of experience handling a wide range of cases, including those involving reluctant insurance companies. Call 404-259-7635 to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Simon to discuss your case. Calling is free, and you will not be billed unless we are able to help get you the compensation you deserve.
Georgia Appellate Court Discusses Recreational-Use Statute in Recent Premises Liability Case, Atlanta Injury Attorney Blog, published May 22, 2018
East Cobb Car Accident Verdict Reversed Based on Judge’s Failure to Instruct Georgia Jury on Defendant’s Lack-of-Knowledge Defense, Atlanta Injury Attorney Blog, published May 28, 2018