When I worked for insurance companies, I was the lawyer that the insurance carrier would hire to defend the policy holder who had been sued and even though I practice exclusively on the plaintiff’s side now, I still field phone calls from panicked consumers. If you have been contacted by a person claiming injury in a car accident in Georgia or if you have been sued, you should follow these five guidelines.
1) Always contact your car insurance company immediately if there was any damage at all. You do not want to give them an excuse not to defend and indemnify you.
2) All car insurance policies, even a minimum limits $25,000.00 policy, will provide you with a free lawyer in the event you are sued .
3) The insurance carrier will indemnify you up to the policy limits amount. Let’s assume you caused a crash and the person broke their leg and you get sued over it. In the situation where you have minimum limits, the insurance company will provide a lawyer to you at no cost under the “duty to defend” and you will get indemnity up to the limits. If you have a $25,000.00 policy and the jury awards $35,000.00, then $10,000 of the judgment will be entered against you after your insurance company pays out. Not a good situation so…..
4) If there is a claim against you or you are sued, make sure you find out from your insurance company: a) what is the claimed injury, b) what are the gross medical bills and lost wages, c) what is the insurance company’s assessment of the verdict d) how do they plan to protect you? If you do not have much coverage, then write your insurance company a letter making it clear 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.
5) Your homeowner’s insurance does not play a role in debts you owe because of a car accident in Georgia.
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.