Why Does My Lawyer Need My Auto Insurance Information To Handle My Car Wreck Case?
Below is a transcript of the podcast
This is Ann Margaret Perkins with Perkins Law Firm and I’d like to welcome you to another episode of our podcast. Today the topic that I’m going to be talking about is why does my lawyer need my automobile information when somebody else caused this wreck and my injuries. I totally understand that it seems crazy that your insurance should get dragged into this situation. But it may be the most important insurance in your entire claim.
I want to explain why it’s important and it’s not that anybody is trying to run your rates up. It’s just to make sure that you are provided access to everything that may be able to provide your recovery. The first source of recovery in any claim is hopefully that of the at fault party. And if they have insurance and they have plenty of insurance then you know your insurance is never going to be accessed. But if they are either uninsured or if they have limits of coverage which are less than what is necessary to compensate you for your injuries then your automobile insurance may be the only other source of recovery you have. And I say it may be the only other source because the idea of actually trying to collect something from individuals personally who have caused a wreck, is very difficult to do. One, you have to go to court and get a judgment. And then secondly they actually have to have the funds to be able to pay that judgment.
As a practical matter, it’s usually the insurance that’s out there that’s going to be available to pay you for your injury. We’ve all heard of the nightmare situation where the person who hits you is driving a car that they don’t even have insurance on. Well then, you’re uninsured motorist coverage is available to compensate you. Let’s say that they only carry in GA the minimum insurance limits that the person has to have is $25000 per person. That is really not a lot in this day and age when a trip to the emergency room can easily be $5000. You know anymore it can be, depending on where you have it, $1000 – $3000. You can end up with $15,000 f in medical expenses very quickly. So $25000 is really not enough to compensate somebody. And if you have uninsured motorist coverage available, then that may make the difference in you getting fair compensation and not getting fair compensation.
It’s not just your personal uninsured motorist (UM) coverage that they provide coverage to you. In Georgia, it’s also the uninsured motorist insurance that belongs to any resident relative of your household. If you live with your mom and she has a policy with State Farm and your dad and he has a policy with Allstate and your brother and he has a policy of Geico and your sister and she has a policy with progressive and you have a policy with The General, then actually all five of those policies, if you have your UM on those policies, provide you coverage. Sometimes it’s very touchy with family members. They’re like “No I don’t want you involved in my insurance company” and I have had that come up with clients. I’m certainly not going to force you to do it. It’s not my place to do that. But I will make you aware that if we fail to at least put these insurance companies on notice of a potential plan then it may mean that they can avoid coverage altogether.
What we do initially is not going in and looking for payment from all these people. What we do is we send them a notice that says “Hey my client has been involved in a wreck. It’s possible that he or she may have an uninsured motorist claim with your company and we just want you to know we’re putting you on notice early enough that you can’t avoid coverage if we have to make a claim.” In less than half the cases I would say my client ends up having to make a UM claim, but in the half that needed to it made a big difference in whether or not they got anything close to fair compensation. So we are going to put them on notice to preserve your right to proceed against them if you need to do that. Unfortunately, there have been some cases in Georgia where insurance companies have like a 60-day notice requirement. If you don’t put them on those 60 days of the wreck then they can avoid coverage. You don’t want to end up in that circumstance. There’s really nothing worse than knowing that you had it, you paid for it and then you lost it because you didn’t do something as simple as putting them on notice. So we’re going to get that information, we’re going to put those people on notice and it’s going to be there in the event that you need it.
Now I’ve had clients like a father whose son lived with him. The father’s claims clearly exceeded the liability limits that the at fault party had. I explained to the father you need to make this UM Claim. And he said “You know my son is really going to be angry with me if I don’t talk with him about it. And I just I can’t do that.” I didn’t think that was very nice at the time, but their personal relationship is not mine to the govern. I understand that and honor that but you just need to understand what you’re walking away from. And he did. So it’s a personal decision and I’ll give you all your options and then you can decide what you want to do about it. But that’s why we asked for that information. It really is necessary, not some trick on my part to try to do something.
The last thing I want to say on this topic is that there’s a statute in Georgia that says that an insurer may not increase your rights because of a UM claim. Now we tell folks if an insurance company wants to increase your rates, they’re going to find a way. But there is some protection under the law, specifically, that they’re not supposed to be able to raise your rights. And my experience over 25 years of doing this is that they that you UM Claims don’t cause increased premium. But I really don’t think that’s a concern for people who really need access to that coverage. If you want any more information about type cases we handle there’s a lot on our Web site. And that injuryispersonal.com com. We handle personal injury and wrongful death cases and happy to talk with you anytime we can be of assistance. Thanks again for listening today.