What Happens When Car Accident Claim Exceeds Insurance Limits

what happens when car accident claim exceeds insurance limits

What happens when a car accident claim exceeds insurance limits? Liability insurance policy limits are something many people do not understand when they are purchasing insurance for themselves and filing a claim after an accident.

When you are purchasing your policy, it may be tempting to save money and only buy what is required by Georgia law. But declining coverage can mean you are left vulnerable after an accident. Even if you are the most careful driver and an accident is not your fault, not having uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury insurance and property damage insurance can mean the financial burden of an accident falls on you. If your injuries are serious, not having enough auto insurance can be devastating.

At The Graham Firm, we want to equip our Georgia neighbors with information and knowledge, so that they can be legally protected in a situation where an accident occurs. Today we will review car accident claim basics, and discuss the unfortunate but all-too-common scenario of the cost of serious injuries exceeding available car accident policy limits.

What Is An Auto Accident Claim?

An auto accident claim is a request for financial compensation after an accident. This can be filed with your own insurance company, or another at-fault driver's insurance company. Claims can be for car repairs, medical costs, lost wages, and other damages, along with pain and suffering. A claim can escalate into a personal injury lawsuit, filed in court if a fair settlement is not reached. It is always best to speak with a personal injury lawyer before filing a claim. A lawyer can give you valuable advice on what to say, what not to say, and how to preserve critical evidence.

Understanding Insurance Policy Limits In Georgia

When you are involved in an auto accident or motorcycle accident that wasn't your fault, the other driver's auto insurance coverage can pay you for your bodily injury - and compensate you for your medical expenses, lost earnings due to being unable to work, and general pain and suffering. How much you can recover will be determined based on your medical bills and how your injuries will affect you - with a catch. Every insurance policy has coverage limits - which is the maximum amount the insurance company will cover for a personal injury claim. When higher levels of insurance are available - for example, a one million dollar liability insurance policy - obtaining policy limits can be a satisfactory settlement. When minimum policy limits are available, a policy limits settlement can be frustrating and unfortunate.

In Georgia, every driver is required to have at least a minimum amount of bodily injury liability insurance. The minimum limits of liability insurance required under Georgia law are:

  • Bodily Injury Liability - $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident
  • Property Damage Liability - $25,000 per incident.

Any injury beyond a minor strain or sprain can result in financial damages that far exceed these claims. According to Healthcare.gov, the average cost of a 3-day hospital stay is around $30,000. Many people who suffer serious injuries require lengthy hospital stays and ever longer stays in rehabilitation facilities. Injuries that cause permanent physical disability can financially impact you for the rest of your life.


understanding insurance policy limits in georgia


What Happens When Car Accident Claim Exceeds Insurance Limits

For Georgia personal injury attorneys, one of the most heartbreaking scenarios is a catastrophic accident resulting in devastating injuries or a wrongful death followed by the discovery that minimum insurance coverage - or no insurance coverage- was available. This is essentially a double heartache. The individual or family must endure the major accident followed by the financial blow of minimal or zero compensation to alleviate medical bills, being unable to work, and loss of future earning capacity and income.

It is possible to file a lawsuit for damages that exceed policy limits, but this is not always successful. If the individual does not have assets or money to compensate you, you may not see a penny. You should speak with your lawyer about your unique and individual situation.

Another scenario to consider is the possibility of having an accident with a driver with no insurance. According to Bankrate.com, about 12% of Georgia drivers do not have insurance. This means that if you are in a collision with another motorist in Georgia, there is a 12% chance that they will not have any car insurance coverage at all. If you and a car full of passengers were injured, this could be devastating physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally.

The Importance Of Having Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Although you cannot control who hits you in a car accident, you do have control over the potential financial outcome. Purchasing an uninsured insurance policy is valuable protection should you be hit by a car by an uninsured/underinsured driver or a hit-and-run. In our opinion, no driver should go without it. If you cannot afford to come out of pocket for medical bills and vehicle replacement, uninsured motorist coverage is a must. Additionally, if you have a high net worth, your insurance agent may recommend higher levels of insurance to protect your financial interests. It may be tempting to decline these "premium" options when you are purchasing insurance. However, you should always consider the risks, costs, and benefits of not covering yourself.

what to do if you are in a car accident

When To Contact An Attorney For Help With A Car Accident Claim

Time is of the essence following a catastrophic accident and what happens when a car accident claim exceeds insurance limits can depend on your specific actions after an accident. After a car accident, motorcycle accident, truck collision, or other accident in Georgia, contact a lawyer at The Graham Firm as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights and options to file a claim. Do not accept any compensation offer or denial without first speaking with a qualified and competent Georgia personal injury lawyer.

How To Find The Right Personal Injury Lawyer For You and Your Case

Because personal injury lawyers handle claims on a contingency fee basis, accident victims can hire the best representation with no upfront fees or costs. The Graham Firm offers a free consultation to answer your questions. If we represent you, we will only be paid if and when we recover money for you. Contact us today to arrange a case evaluation with one of our lawyers.