In Georgia, most car accident cases are solved through an insurance claim process. If this process works out, no lawsuit is generally necessary. However, drivers do have the right to sue each other over an accident, and to go after each other’s personal finances to get the money they are owed. If this happens to you, there are ways to fight it—and to potentially get your insurance policy to take care of the matter.
The 3 Most Common Reasons for a Car Accident Lawsuit in Georgia
Georgia requires all drivers to carry insurance on their vehicles. This law is designed to do away with the need for expensive lawsuits. Because of this, if you caused an accident, the other driver should seek their compensation from your insurance policy. (If the accident wasn’t your fault, and the other driver caused it, then it’s the other way around: you have a right to recover money from their insurance.) Most of the time, people only file a lawsuit if this system fails.
This leads to three common circumstances where we see one driver sue another:
- You don’t have insurance. If you don’t have car insurance, or didn’t at the time of the accident, then the other driver has no way to recover their costs without suing you. This is a very common cause of a car accident lawsuit.
- Your insurance isn’t enough. Georgia only requires that you carry $50,000 in bodily injury insurance (with at least $25,000 per victim), and $25,000 in property insurance. The property damages to a vehicle rarely go over the $25,000 mark, but the medical cost of injuries can easily sail over the $50,000 limit. If this happens, your insurance won’t pay the other driver the full amount they need, and they may choose to sue you.
- The process took too long. Many drivers will try the insurance claim process first, but if it doesn’t get them results, they will turn to a lawsuit. This is especially true if a legal deadline is looming. In Georgia, car accident victims only have 2 years to sue in most cases, so as the two-year mark approaches they may choose to file a lawsuit “just in case.” A lawsuit is also a way to get your attention, and they might be hoping it will convince you to put pressure on your insurance company to act faster.
Of course, these aren’t the only reasons people sue. Sometimes people are vindictive after an accident, or they may have hired a very aggressive attorney who urged them to sue to maximize the pressure on you. You can still defend yourself.
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What should I do if I am being sued for a car accident?
Be calm. These lawsuits are common and they are often resolved through insurance or with a settlement you can live with. Just because you are being sued doesn’t mean you’ll have to pay.
At the same time, you need to take it seriously. Lawsuits move quickly, and if you do not respond to the lawsuit, or put together a poor defense, you could end up losing a lot of money. If you are being sued, it is imperative that you speak to a lawyer. You should not face this kind of threat without professional legal guidance.
A good lawyer will explore several options for resolving the lawsuit:
- Pressuring your insurer to pay. Your insurer has a legal duty to you. If they are stalling or refusing to pay, it gives the other party no other option but to sue. By putting legal pressure on the insurer, you could end up with a win-win for both you and the driver suing you.
- Exploring uninsured motorist insurance. If you don’t have car insurance, the other driver may still be covered under their own uninsured motorist insurance or a medical payment insurance plan. Your lawyer can explore other options for getting them their money.
- Fighting the case. Just because the other driver says you’re at fault doesn’t mean you are. Your lawyer will reconstruct the case and find out exactly who was at fault—or if fault was shared. If the other driver is even partly at fault for the accident, you will owe them a lot less money. And if they were at least 50% at fault, you don’t owe them anything.
Have you been in a car accident? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.