If you have friends or family living in different parts of the country, you may have heard them talk about no-fault car insurance. It sounds intriguing, although the truth is this type of coverage is often misunderstood.
Living in Georgia, you might wonder if you have no-fault car insurance or if your coverage operates according to other rules.
There are twelve no-fault insurance states, including Florida and Kentucky. However, Georgia is not a no-fault state. We have different rules for how car accidents are handled.
Here’s what you need to know.
It’s Important to Know Who’s At Fault in an Accident
When there is a car accident, no one meant to get into a crash. However, one of the parties likely caused it by making a mistake or getting distracted.
For instance, someone who ran a red light and then hit another vehicle would be at fault for that accident. Someone who was driving normally and hit by a drunk driver who crossed the center line would not be at fault — the drunk driver would be.
Sometimes both parties are somewhat at fault. Maybe one person turned left and didn’t see a car coming, but the other driver was looking at their cell phone and not paying attention. In that case, each driver would be assigned partial fault.
Who Assigns Fault?
Who decides which party is at fault? Generally, the insurance companies for each driver will review the facts of the case and decide. If the two companies don’t agree, they will go into mediation with each other.
If there is a court case about the accident, the court may be responsible for deciding who is at fault, along with determining any contested damages.
The At-Fault Driver Pays for Damages From the Accident
If one driver is determined to be 100% at fault, that driver is responsible for 100% of the injuries and damage that occurred in the accident. Generally, that means the insurance company will pay up to the limits of the insurance policy.
In a no-fault state, some of the damages you can claim are limited, and you file for payment with your own insurance company unless the claim is very severe. In that case, you would file with the other insurer.
However, you can claim a variety of damages in Georgia, such as:
- Medical bills for injuries
- Property damage for your vehicle and items inside it
- Physical rehabilitation
- Lost wages if you miss work due to the accident
- The cost of any prescription drugs you need to buy due to the crash
- Pain and suffering
If the decision was that both parties were at fault, the damages from the accident are divided based on percentage responsibility. For instance, if you were 25% at fault, 25% of the damages are your responsibility, and 75% belong to the other party.
Having Proper Auto Insurance Coverage
It’s important to choose proper auto insurance coverage limits so that your assets are protected. Remember, if you don’t have enough Georgia car insurance, the other person can sue you. That can cost you your future wages and any assets you’ve spent years saving up.
The state minimum coverage for insurance in Georgia is:
- Bodily injury liability: $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident
- Property damage liability: $25,000 per accident
These limits are not very high, and while the insurance is inexpensive, it doesn’t help you pay for more serious accidents. Be sure to get a quote on higher coverage limits, such as $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for injuries, and $100,000 for property damage. If you have a good driving record, this increase may not cost that much!
If you cause an accident and need to repair your vehicle, or if your car is stolen or vandalized, you’ll need additional coverage for the insurance company to help with those costs. The coverage you’re looking for is called Comprehensive and Collision, which together is often referred to as “full coverage.”
Filing an Auto Insurance Claim in Georgia
If you’ve been in an accident, there are several essential steps to take to protect yourself legally and help the insurance company with the claim.
First, never admit fault. Even if you feel you were at fault, let the authorities and insurance companies determine those things. The other person may have partial responsibility too.
Second, make sure the police come and do a police report. If they don’t, the accident will be your word against the other driver, and they can claim anything. It will be impossible to prove the truth.
You can also help by taking pictures of the scene and damage, talking to witnesses, and writing down everything that happened so you don’t forget any details.
Finally, report the claim to your insurance company right away. They can get things started with their investigation, determination of fault, and applying coverage.
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim?
Your insurance company will have its own rules regarding how soon you need to file a claim with them to receive coverage. If you are making a claim against the other driver, you legally have two years to sue for injuries and four years to sue for property damage.
Time moves more quickly than you expect, so file as soon as you can. Calling the day of the accident, if you’re able, is a good idea.