An uninsured driver is a hazard to all road users. It is easy to recover damages in most car accidents once a party is found liable. You file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer and negotiate a settlement. An Atlanta car accident lawyer can help you recover a fair amount of compensation in Atlanta crashes.
However, things become a bit complicated when you are in a wreck involving an uninsured or underinsured driver. This is because the other driver does not carry any insurance, or has insufficient auto insurance. This limits your options for seeking damages. You will need to explore other options to cover your crash-related losses.
Georgia Auto Insurance Requirements
Georgia laws require all motorists operating a vehicle within the state to carry auto insurance. The minimum auto insurance requirements, as per the Office of Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire, include:
- Bodily injury liability coverage of up to $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Property damage liability coverage of up to $25,000 per accident
You may additionally purchase physical damage insurance that is collision-specific or comprehensive. However, this is an optional coverage that you are not legally required to carry.
Legal Penalties for an Underinsured or Uninsured Driver
As noted above, a minimum amount of auto insurance is a legal requirement for all Georgia motorists. You must carry proof or evidence of insurance coverage when operating a vehicle. Failure to meet the minimum auto insurance requirements is a criminal offense. The first offense is a misdemeanor that carries significant penalties. These include a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail term of up to 12 months. The actual fine and jail sentence may depend on the nature of the offense and other circumstances.
What Can You Do After Accidents Involving an Uninsured Driver?
Despite the legal requirements, many drivers continue to operate without auto insurance. According to a 2019 estimate by the Insurance Information Institute, nearly 12.4% of all motorists in Georgia are uninsured.
In most car crashes, your first option is to file a claim for damages with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. For an uninsured driver, you can’t avail this option. Here are some other options you may explore to cover the crash-related damages.
File a Claim With Your Own Insurer
You first option is to file a claim with your own insurance company. You may be able to recover damages if you carry collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, or uninsured motorist coverage. These coverage options are available as a part of your auto insurance.
If you have underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, your insurer must cover your losses. If the other driver is underinsured, you can recover some damages through a third-party claim. Your insurance company then makes up for the remaining amount.
File a Lawsuit
Your second option is to file a lawsuit when the negligent driver doesn’t have sufficient auto insurance. A court then decides whether or not you are entitled to damages. The court also determines the actual amount of damages.
It is important to note that this is not always a viable option. The litigation involved in a lawsuit requires a significant amount of time and effort. You also end up spending some of your own money during the legal process. Even if you are successful, you don’t receive any damages if the at-fault driver has no valuable assets.
A qualified lawyer can help you investigate the financial standing and assets of the other party. You can then file a lawsuit if the negligent party has sufficient assets to cover your crash-related losses.
Identity Another Liable Party
Is the at-fault driver also the owner of the vehicle? Or is it a rental or rideshare vehicle that has caused the crash? In many cases, you can identify another liable party in a car crash. An owner may be held vicariously responsible for a crash caused by another uninsured driver. A trucking company may be held accountable for damages in a truck accident. The availability of this particular option depends on the unique circumstances of an accident.
How Can an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer Help?
If you have suffered injuries and other losses in an Atlanta crash involving an uninsured driver, we can help you. Here at the Greene Legal Group, we help you explore all your options for recovering a fair amount of damages. We aim to get you the compensation you deserve for your crash-related losses. Call us today to discuss your Atlanta car crash claim with our lawyers.