Even if you were not at fault, its important to contact your own insurance company after an accident.The answer to this question is, “yes.” If you have been injured in an accident in Georgia, one of the first phone calls you should make is to your own auto insurance company. The company needs to be aware there was an accident – regardless of fault – at the earliest available opportunity.
The reason for alerting your own auto insurance carrier is to avoid any contractual disputes regarding proper notice. Failure to provide proper notice can actually destroy your valid claim in Georgia under certain circumstances. Here’s why:
Under Georgia law, auto accident victims have two years from the date of the accident to bring a claim against the at-fault driver. Notice is not an issue when contacting the at-fault driver and their insurance carrier, so long as its within the statute of limitations.
The problem for accident victims is when it turns out the at-fault driver is actually uninsured. This is often not immediately known after the accident. It could be several months after the collision before the at-fault driver’s insurance company contacts you or your attorney to alert you there is no coverage.
Hopefully, a driver in that situation as Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. This is optional coverage in Georgia that covers you in the event that you are injured by an uninsured driver. See the Jarrett & Price UM page for a full explanation about how this coverage works and why it is so important.
Uninsured Motorist coverage is your own insurance coverage. But it is covering damages caused by the at-fault party.
The problem with notice is that the UM policy is your own insurance coverage. There is a contract existing between you and the insurance carrier. Therefore, there are often additional notice requirements that must be med for the UM coverage to apply. If the notice requirements were not met, then no coverage will apply.
Here’s a common scenario: Jane is hit by an at-fault driver named John. Jane contacts John’s insurance carrier, Acme Insurance, immediately after the accident. A month later, Jane receives a letter from Acme stating that John was not actually covered at the time of the accident because he did not pay his premium on time just before the accident. Acme is denying coverage.
Thankfully, Jane pays her own insurance company, Safe Hands, for uninsured motorist coverage (UM) for exactly this type of situation. Her UM policy will cover her for the damages caused by John. However, there’s a problem. Safe Hands sends her a letter that under her contract with Safe Hands, she must notify Safe Hands she was in an accident within 24 hours of that accident for coverage to apply.
Jane, thinking there was valid coverage on John’s policy, failed to notify Acme within that time period and now she is left with NO COVERAGE to pay for her losses. This seems like a harsh penalty, but Georgia courts have upheld these type of notice provisions in UM policies before.
This is why having an attorney is so important to retain an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you are in an accident. Navigating Georgia insurance law is a complex maze that can perplex even the most experienced attorney. Finding all sources of coverage and ensuring that you
do not lose any coverage, are important roles for your attorney.
If you or a loved one have been in an accident, don’t face the insurance companies alone. Contact Jarrett & Price at (706) 770-6669 – (912) 999-2599 to speak to an attorney for a free consultation. We have office locations in Savannah, Georgia, covering all of southeast Georgia, including Chatham County, Liberty County, Long County, Effingham County, and Bryan Counties. We also have office locations in Clarkesville, Georgia, and Cleveland, Georgia, covering all of northeast Georgia in Habersham County, White County, Rabun County, Stephens County and Banks County.
Call today for a free consultation. All injury cases are taken on a contingency fee basis, so there are no up-front costs.