Most states in the nation require registered automobile owners to carry a minimum level of automobile insurance. Georgia requires registered car owners to carry a minimum of $25,000.00 in automobile liability insurance, which would cover the bodily injuries to a single individual injured as a result of any accident caused by the negligence of the driver of that insured vehicle. Of course, an individual can contract with his or her respective insurance company to cover their insured vehicle for more than the $25,000.00 minimum. Effectively, the more insurance coverage available on the at fault vehicle, the more coverage there is available to cover the bodily injuries to any victim injured in a car accident involving the at fault vehicle.
Clients often ask me in car accident cases: “how much is my case worth?” My initial response is: that value is most often largely determined by the full amount of insurance available to cover your injuries. Yes, this means that even if one's injuries incur medical bills into the hundreds of the thousands, if there is only $25,000.00 available insurance coverage on the at fault vehicle, then the most that the insurance company of the at-fault party is legally bound to pay is that full $25,000.00. (We discuss the importance and impact of Uninsured Motorist/Uninsured Motorist Insurance in a later blog)
If, however, an insurance company has been placed on notice that an injured party has suffered injuries that extend beyond the policy limits, then the insurance company can be on the hook for a judgment in excess of those policy limits should a jury award damages greater than the policy limits at a subsequent trial. Say for example, a victim has $40,000.00 in medical bills and the at-fault party has a $25,000.00 automobile insurance policy limit. And lets say, the insurance fails to settle a claim after a request from the victim to receive the full $25,000.00 as compensation for his or her injuries. Then the insurance company could become liable for whatever the amount that jury verdict is, even if that amount is greater than the $25,000.00 policy limits. Georgia law also entitles a Plaintiff, in this case, to additional penalties for bad faith and attorneys fees after a jury verdict.
This may all seem a bit much to wrap your brain around if you are reading and learning about automobile policy limits for the first time. We are car accident lawyers in Gwinnett County ready to answer any question that you have about this topic or any other question that you may have if you or a loved one has been involved in a car Gwinnett car accident or a car accident anywhere in Georgia. Do not hesitate to give us a call today so that we can fight for your rights.