All automobile drivers in Georgia are required to purchase and maintain a minimum of $25,000 in liability coverage. The purpose of this requirement is to protect other drivers in the event of a wreck caused by the insured driver. Therefore, if you are in a wreck in which another driver is at fault, you should have a minimum of $25,000 available from the other driver’s insurance company to compensate you for your medical treatment, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages you may incur as a result of the other driver’s negligence.
The unfortunate reality is that victims of car wrecks often suffer more than $25,000 in damages. If the driver who hit you has only the $25,000 minimum limits, you will not be able to collect anything above that $25,000 policy unless you elect to pursue the other driver’s personal assets—a task which is extremely time-consuming, tedious, and almost always proves fruitless since drivers with minimum coverage usually do not have sufficient finances or assets to pay anything above their $25,000 insurance limits. Therefore, you may have no practical chance of being made whole for your damages—unless you have underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage (“UM” coverage).
UM coverage is a separate type of coverage you can purchase from your automobile liability insurer in addition to your liability coverage. UM coverage protects you in the event you are injured by another driver who has no insurance at all, or insufficient insurance to fully cover the amount of your damages. Take these examples:
Driver A is hit by Driver B. Driver B is found at fault for causing the wreck. Driver A suffers $40,000 in medical treatment, pain and suffering, and lost wages as a result of the wreck. Driver B has only the minimum liability policy limits of $25,000. Driver A collects the $25,000 from Driver B’s policy, but Driver A still has an additional $15,000 in damages for which he has not been compensated. Driver A has no UM coverage. Therefore, Driver A is unable to collect the remaining $15,000 and cannot be made whole for his injuries.
Now consider the same scenario as above, but this time, instead of having no UM coverage, Driver A has $50,000 in UM coverage. Driver A suffers $40,000 in damages. Driver B’s insurer pays the $25,000. Driver A may then pursue a claim against his own UM insurer for the remaining $15,000. Thus, driver A is made whole despite Driver B being “underinsured.”
In another example, we see how UM coverage operates to compensate an injured party where the at-fault driver has no insurance at all:
Driver A is hit by Driver B. Driver B is found at fault for causing the wreck. Driver A suffers $30,000 in medical treatment, pain and suffering, and lost wages as a result of the wreck. Driver B has no insurance at all. Driver A has no UM coverage. Therefore, Driver A is unable to collect anything at all for his injuries.
Now consider the same scenario as above, but this time, instead of having no UM coverage, Driver A has $50,000 in UM coverage. Driver A suffers $30,000 in damages. Driver B has no insurance. Driver A may then pursue a claim against his own UM insurer for all of the $30,000. Thus, driver A is made whole despite Driver B being “uninsured.”
You can see from these examples how critical UM coverage can be for victims of automobile wrecks. It is important to note that if you have UM coverage, you must collect the full amount of the at-fault driver’s insurance (this is called “exhausting the underlying limits”) before your own UM carrier has any legal obligation to pay anything on your UM claim. There are also complex rules and laws that must be closely and timely followed in order to preserve your right to pursue a claim under your UM coverage.
The attorneys at Apolinsky & Associates are highly experienced in these areas and routinely handle UM claims on behalf of our clients. Please contact us today if you have been injured in a car or trucking collision.
The foregoing answer is not legal advice and is merely a general overview. You are advised to consult a lawyer to address your specific situation. Feel free to send comments or questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org of Apolinsky & Associates, LLC. Image Credit.