How to Protect You and Your Family from Financial Ruin before an Automobile Accident Happens
SIX MILLION GEORGIANSwere involved in an automobile accident from 2000-2006. On average that is 2,394 people per day, or one person involved in a car crash every 36 seconds on Georgia roadways. On average from 2000-2006 almost 5 people died per day on Georgia roadways.
Odds are that you or someone you know has been involved in a car wreck. So how do you financially protect you and your family if tragedy strikes? Most people are under the mistaken assumption that if they are injured in a car accident that all of their medical bills will be covered and they will get full compensation for all that they have been through. THIS IS FALSE!! Monetary recovery in a personal injury case is primarily tied to the amount of insurance coverage available, the more insurance available, the more likely that you will receive full compensation for your injuries.
When we meet with an injured person or his or her family to talk about a case, it is often too late to talk about insurance coverage. Most people are unaware of their insurance coverage until after the wreck has occurred. By understanding three basic areas of insurance coverage, our hope is that you can avoid financial ruin if tragedy strikes. This guide is by no means meant to be exhaustive of every type of coverage that you can buy. We strongly encourage you to discuss your insurance options with a licensed insurance agent, but make sure you discuss the following three main areas.
MAIN TYPES OF COVERAGE FOR PROTECTION IN AN AUTO ACCIDENT
LIABILITY INSURANCE – Mandatory – Minimum Coverage
Georgia Law only requires that the owner of a vehicle maintain liability coverage in the amount of $25,000/$50,000. Georgia law does not require any other type of coverage for personal injury. So what is liability coverage and what do the numbers mean? Liability coverage protects you in the event that you are at fault and injure someone else. The insurance company will pay up to $25,000.00 for any one person that is injured and no more than a total amount of $50,000.00 for all people injured. This includes any medical bills and lost wages. $25,000.00 may sound like a lot of money, but medical treatment can be extremely expensive. If someone has suffered a severe injury, it is not uncommon for initial medical bills to exceed this $25,000.00 limit.
What happens if the other person’s injuries exceed $25,000.00? You can be personally responsible for the difference. This means that if you own a car or a house, any of your assets can be exposed. So you need to increase your liability coverage. It does not cost double to double the amount of coverage. Let’s say that you are paying $500.00 a year for a minimum limits policy. It will not cost $1000.00 to double your coverage; it may increase to $600.00.
If the minimum limits in Georgia for liability are $25,000.00 how do you protect yourself is someone else is at fault for causing the wreck?
UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE – Optional Coverage
This optional insurance protects you if someone injures you and does not have adequate coverage or any coverage at all. Your insurance company will pay for your injuries in the event that someone else is at fault. Best way to explain this is by an example. Let’s say that someone hits you and causes severe injuries. Let’s say that your personal injury claim is worth $100,000.00. If the person that hits you only has $25,000 in liability coverage and you do not have any uninsured motorist coverage, then if the person does not have any assets, the most that you will likely recover is $25,000 for a claim that is worth $100,000.00. So how do you protect yourself in this situation? Purchase uninsured motorist coverage. If you had uninsured motorist coverage in the amount of $100,000.00 then you would be able to collect $25,000.00 from the other party and an additional $75,000.00 from your insurance company to total $100,000.00 to compensate you for your injuries. 
Most people say that it does not seem fair that your insurance company has to pay for what the other person caused. That may very well be true, but it is better to have your insurance company pay than for you to have to pay it yourself. It is not a perfect system, but it is the best option we have. You can take some consolation in the fact that your insurance company will then have the right to go after the at fault party for what it paid out.
MEDICAL EXPENSE COVERAGE – Optional Coverage
Operates like health insurance if you are injured in your car, regardless of who is at fault. The only drawback with medical expense coverage is that it typically only provides a small amount of coverage usually ranging from $1,000.00 to $5,000.00. Another example: You are driving on the road and take your eyes off the roadway and run into a ditch. You are injured and incur medical bills. You are clearly at fault for causing the wreck so how can you make sure that your medical bills are paid? If you have medical expense coverage then you can make the claim to have your medical bills paid through your own medical expense coverage even though you may have been at fault for the accident. Medical expense coverage also applies to anyone who may have been injured in your car as well. Again, while it is not a perfect solution, it can help if you have sustained an injury and the wreck was not the fault of someone else.
A personal injury claim can be financially devastating if you do not have proper insurance to cover you in the event of a loss. Insurance laws can be extremely complex. This brief guide is merely meant to help you better understand insurance laws and start a conversation with your licensed insurance agent about the needs of you and your family. At Henningsen Injury Attorneys, P.C. we stand willing and able to help you or anyone you know who may have been injured. Whether it be due to an automobile accident, truck accident, work place injury, slip and fall, or any other type of accident, we have the resources to make sure that you are fully and fairly compensated for all that you or your loved one has been through. Either through an out of court settlement, or if the matter has to be tried before a jury, we stand willing to make sure that you get the compensation that you deserve.