I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage in Georgia. In 11 years of practicing as an injury lawyer, I have found that the people that cause the most devastating injuries in automobile collisions tend to be uninsured and underinsured drivers. Bad drivers tend to have a lot of speeding tickets and prior collisions and cannot afford decent coverage. As a result, the at fault driver did not have enough liability insurance to repay my clients for the medical bills they incurred and the injuries they sustained.
Most drivers in Georgia operate with the minimum mandatory limits of $25,000.00. That may seem like a lot of money but that’s only if you have not been to the hospital recently. For example, in Metro Atlanta, the typical ambulance ride costs $600.00, the Emergency room visit is at least $800, X-Rays cost around $250, an MRI is $1100, a CT scan can cost $2000 and so on. Even a modest trip to the emergency room usually costs around $2,000.00. Then there can be mountains of bills from physical therapy and medications. In short, even a simple auto accident case with sprained muscles that requires an ER visit and physical therapy can leave a person with over $5,000.00 in bills. If there are any broken bones, the value of the case in front of a jury quickly grows to over $25,000.00.
Now imagine you have been in an accident in Roswell, Georgia and a driver has totaled your car by negligently failed to leave enough following distance. You have gone to the hospital and learned that you have a herniated disc in your neck that is going to need surgery. The total cost for your medical expenses will be well over $45,000.00 which does not even include the amount of income you will lose for missing work during surgery and recovery. You make contact with the at-fault driver’s insurance company and learn that the driver only had $25,000.00 in coverage and is not a wealthy person. Reality is that there may be no recovery for you beyond the $25,000.00. As your grandmother told you, you cannot get blood from a stone.
That is where Georgia Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist insurance coverages play a critical role. I suggest that everyone carry at least $100,000.00 in liability and $100,000.00 in Uninsured Motorist coverage. In Georgia (for the time being, there are big changes afoot in the legislature) if the situation described above occurred, you could collect the $25,000.00 from the at-fault driver and then another $75,000.00 from your own insurance company. In essence, the UM coverage “pretends” to be the insurance for the at fault driver. You are buying insurance that protects you from drivers with low end policies. And guess what coverages most bad drivers have? Yep, that’s right, they have minimum limits policies because they get into frequent accidents and cannot afford more coverage. The bottom line is you cannot afford to go without the coverage. I insist that my clients increase their coverage to at least 100/300 after they meet with me. Although it does not work retroactively, you would be shocked how many people have other crashes in the years to come.