What Should I Do If I’m Hit by an Uninsured Driver?

A two vehicle motor vehicle accident with police on scene.

There are several things you should be aware of if you are hit by an uninsured driver. A driver may have an insurance card at the scene of a wreck but you have no way of knowing whether that insurance is expired, whether it applies to that particular vehicle, or whether that driver has permission to be driving that vehicle. So what should you do if you’re hit by an assumed uninsured driver?

Find out if the driver is, in fact, an uninsured driver.

Being hit by an uninsured driver could mean a handful of things.  There could be no insurance on the vehicle or the person that hit you may not be authorized to drive that vehicle. An attorney can determine whether the at-fault driver is uninsured by looking at the police report and sending a letter to the applicable insurance company to find out if that person is a proper driver.

Notify your own insurance company.

Most automobile insurance contracts require you to notify the insurer about any car accident within a reasonable time. If you do not comply with the terms of the insurance contract, your insurer may deny coverage.  If you have been hit by an uninsured driver, the uninsured motorist coverage of your policy would be utilized to cover any damages you suffered in the wreck.  If you are hurt by an uninsured driver, it is best to speak with an attorney because your own insurance company is going to defend that case against you, which puts you in a tricky position.

 Identify all insurance policies.

There are many different types of insurance policies and it is important to locate and share them all with your attorney.  Some insurance companies write specific policies for each vehicle in a household where as others write one policy that covers all vehicles in a home. 

Additionally, most all of your common insurance companies have what is known as resident relative coverage. This means that all relatives from the same household are entitled to use insurance policies from all other relatives in the same household, regardless of company.

 Treat your wreck like any other wreck.

Just like if you were hit by an insured driver, follow the same steps we suggest doing after any wreck.  Click here to read the 7 MOST IMPORTANT things to do after an accident

 If you are the victim of a hit and run, your case would be treated the same as if you were hit by an uninsured driver.  Your own insurance company is going to defend that case against you, so it is important to document as much as you can, take photos, look for witnesses, and seek medical treatment.

If you have been hit by an uninsured driver and would like to discuss your case for free, give us a call at 833-LEGAL-GA.

How to Deal With an Insurance Company After a Wreck

A man wearing a suit, crouched down, beside a silver car with frontend damage, writing in a notebook.

After being hit by another driver, we often wonder “How do I deal with an insurance company after this wreck?” Naturally, most people immediately call their insurance company to report the wreck. However, few people stop to think about what they should say or how speaking to an insurance company may affect any claim they need to bring for property damage or personal injuries. Following these simple steps will save car wreck victims a lot of time and money.

Call a Car Wreck Attorney

If you have been injured in a car wreck, call a car wreck attorney first.  A vast majority of our first time clients come to us frustrated and upset after attempting to manage the aftermath of a wreck themselves. They often feel jerked around with bills to pay, subjected to delay tactics and little support from the insurance companies.

In our experience, people aren’t litigious or “sue happy,” and don’t want to get a lawyer involved if it seems unnecessary at the time. However, a quick phone call to a trustworthy attorney can help you get clear on how to proceed after you’ve been injured in a wreck.  A free consultation offers you a road map on how to move forward and an honest attorney will tell you if you really need to hire someone at that point in time.

There are a lot of excellent personal injury attorneys that help car wreck victims but there are some bad apples too. Before you call an attorney, you may want to check out this video to get a good idea of what you should expect from a personal injury attorney:

Be Careful What You Tell the Insurance Company

After you’ve been in injured in a wreck, you will have a minimum of at least two claims with the insurance company — a property damage claim and a bodily injury claim. Both will be assigned to different adjustors and handled separately.  Be careful what you say to any adjustor.  Every conversation you have is likely going to be recorded and can be used against you to minimize other claims. For example, if you tell the property damage adjuster “I’m fine but I need my car fixed,” the insurance companies records will reflect that you are not injured. Worse, if the statement is recorded, the insurance company will use your statement against you if need to bring a personal injury claim at a later time.

Let the Insurance Company Move Your Vehicle

With property damage claims, it is important to communicate where the wrecked vehicle is and let the insurance company inspect and move the vehicle as soon as possible. This mitigates the damages and expenses that can accrue the longer your vehicle sits at a tow yard.

If your vehicle is likely a total loss, you should also start shopping around for a replacement vehicle pretty quickly. As soon as you are paid for your property damage claim, the insurance company will no longer pay for a rental vehicle (if you have and are using rental coverage).

Do Not Minimize Your Injuries

Keep in mind, some injuries can take time to manifest. You do not want to settle your case until you know the full extent of your injuries. It’s best to consult your doctor(s) in terms of your diagnosis, prognosis, and plan of treatment. Once you settle your claim with the insurance company, it is done.  You can never go back and get more money if you end up needing additional medical care or procedures related to your injuries from the wreck.

Keep in mind, insurance companies are for-profit corporations that maximize their profits by collecting premiums and paying out as little as possible on claims.  You will likely receive a quick settlement offer in hopes you’ll take it and be done, but these offers are typically less than the fair value of your case.  Your best bet is to call an attorney first, to help you deal with the insurance company after you’ve been in a wreck.

If you have been injured in a wreck, call Williams Elleby Howard & Easter today for a free consultation at 833-LEGAL-GA or (833-534-2542).

How COVID-19 Is Impacting Car Crash Injury Claims in Georgia

A closeup of a silver car that has rearended a black car.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way attorneys, insurers, and crash victims handle Georgia car crash claims. From the ability of victims to obtain medical care to how legal professionals handle claims, every area of the Georgia car crash claims process is different.

Fewer Vehicle Accidents

As car accident attorneys and fellow Georgia citizens, one of the changes we are following closely is how COVID-19 is impacting driving in Georgia. As COVID-19 infection rates began to rise in the Spring of 2020, significantly fewer cars and slightly fewer trucks were on the road.

On March 14, 2020, Governor Brian Kemp issued an executive order in which he declared a public health state of emergency in Georgia.  This order has been amended and renewed several times. Shortly after his initial order, Governor Kemp issued additional restrictions that limited public gatherings and closed many businesses that were not considered to be essential. Schools closed and many people began working from home. All of these factors caused Georgia, like many other states, to see a decrease in car accidents.

In the late summer months of 2020, schools began to open, many of the Governor’s restrictions were lifted, and employees began returning to in office work. As a result, Georgia began to see an increase in traffic rates and a corresponding increase in car crashes.

Lower Car Insurance Rates

Less driving and fewer accidents led to car insurance companies reducing rates. Many automatically reduced car insurance rates for a short period of time. However, many have now reverted back to regular rates. If you are driving significantly less than when you obtained your policy, you may be able to renegotiate for a permanent reduction in premiums, or find another insurance company that will give you a lower rate. It is worth making a few calls.

Harder to Find Medical Care

One of the significant downsides to COVID has been reduced access to in-person medical care. This has made it more difficult to keep up with routine preventative care and to find initial and ongoing care after a motor vehicle accident. If you’ve been in a Georgia car accident and are struggling to find the medical care you need, watch this video we put out to learn more:

Fortunately, as we learn more about how to safely open the economy back up, doctors are beginning to increase their availability again.

Licenses Issued Without Driving Test

In late April, Governor Kemp permitted drivers to obtain their driver’s licenses without an in-person driving test. As a result, nearly 20,000 licenses were issued to Georgia drivers without an in-person driving test. Subsequently, the governor announced that those who received a license without an in-person test would need to pass an in-person driving test to maintain their license.

Longer Drives

Although COVID-19 took many drivers off the road during the spring and early summer of 2020, we suspect that for the foreseeable future, it will change how people are driving. There are still fewer daily commuters on the road than there were before COVID-19, but there has been a resurgence in driving for vacation, business, and school related activities.

With flights limited, often expensive, and risky due to the close proximity of passengers, people are taking good old-fashioned road trips for their vacations. This trend will likely continue through the winter holiday season. Longer drives, especially in winter weather, carry risks, and we urge everyone to follow these tips for a safe and fun winter road trip in Georgia.

Delayed Georgia Jury Trials

As the risk of COVID-19 infection began to increase, Chief Justice Harold D. Melton, issued an Order that suspended all jury trials as of March 14, 2020. Chief Justice Melton’s order was issued, in part, to protect Georgia citizens and court personnel from a situation in which they would be forced into close proximity with one another.

An unfortunate drawback to the suspension of jury trials was the inevitable backlog of civil and criminal cases. Without juries to resolve disputes, many cases came to a standstill. Nevertheless, new cases were being filed and this caused tremendous stress and delay for Georgia litigants.

In September of 2020, grand jury proceedings in Georgia resumed. Additionally, Chief Justice Melton is expected to sign an order on Saturday, October 10, 2020 that will allow jury trials to resume. It will take many months or even years for the case backlog to clear so any person with a car crash lawsuit in Georgia will need to be patient and expect it to take much longer than normal for their case to reach trial.

Need a Georgia Car Crash Attorney? Call Williams Elleby Howard & Easter Today

If you have been injured in a Georgia car crash and want to learn more about your options, contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter at 833-LEGALGA (534-2542) to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. We would love to help you navigate your situation during these uncertain times.

Do I Have to Provide Insurance Companies With My Medical Records?

Yellow folders with the words medical record on them and a stethoscope laying on top of the folders.

Automobile accidents happen in the blink of an eye, but the consequences of them, even when you are not at fault, last much longer. The physical and financial recovery from automobile accidents can take months to years. Dealing with insurance companies is often one of the more stressful parts of the experience.

As well-known Georgia personal injury attorneys, we often get asked whether insurance companies have to be allowed access to your medical records after an accident. The answer depends on which records they are seeking.

Insurance Companies Can Get Some Medical Records

If you’ve been in a Georgia motor vehicle accident with injuries and are seeking compensation for those injuries from your insurer, or another driver and their insurer, you will have to show documentation of your injury. Since your injury is at issue, insurance companies will be allowed some access to your medical records.

The purpose of permitting insurance companies access is to allow them to investigate the truth of your claim. The records they may review are those that could be relevant to your Georgia automobile accident claim. While insurance companies should be allowed to verify your claim, they’re known to overreach, get more of your medical records than they are entitled to, and try to use them against you.

Be Cautious of Medical Record Requests

Insurance companies hope to find some pre-existing injury in your medical records to point to as the cause of your injuries, rather than it resulting from the Georgia motor vehicle crash. For example, if you suffered a neck injury, an insurance company may try to blame it on a sports injury you suffered 10 years prior. They will look for anything in your medical records to support their position. Seemingly innocuous doctor’s visits from the past can be turned against you.

Insurance companies have tricky ways of getting these records, such as having you sign a medical record authorization form that is very broad or lacks proper HIPAA language, or requesting more records than they are legally entitled to in the hopes you will turn them over voluntarily because you don’t know you can deny the request. We recommend that you always consult with an attorney before granting an insurance company’s medical record request. An attorney can help you understand what requests are proper.  If any requests are not proper, the attorney can help you file the proper objectives and protect your medical privacy.

If you have been injured in a Georgia motor vehicle accident and are worried about pursuing your claims because of medical privacy concerns, contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter at 833-LEGALGA to set up a free consultation with one of our caring, experienced attorneys. We’d love to discuss your case, your rights, and your options.

Allstate and Bad Faith Insurance Claims in Georgia

Blue paper with a white rip in the center with the title, Bad faith insurance claims."

Many insurance companies have a well-earned reputation for being difficult to deal with. In our experience, Allstate is among the worst because it often drags out even the simplest of claims for months or even years longer than necessary. Serious negotiations are part of the claims process; however, there is an important line between negotiating in good faith versus bad faith. While many insurance companies walk a fine line between good and bad faith, Allstate has developed a reputation among Georgia lawyers for pushing those boundaries. This is especially true when Allstate’s insured causes a crash.

Duties of Automobile Insurers under Georgia Law

Georgia law imposes important duties on car insurance companies. If a claim is brought against you, most injured claimants will give your insurance company an opportunity to settle the claim within your policy limits. If the injured party has a lawyer, the claim will usually be sent to your insurance company in compliance with the terms of O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1. This statute lays out the basic requirements of a pre-suit settlement demand where the injured person’s attorney will give your insurer an opportunity to settle the claim and protect your personal assets.

When your insurance company receives an offer of settlement, it must put your interests ahead of its own. “[W]here a person injured by the insured offers to settle for a sum within the policy limits, and the insurer refuses the offer of settlement, the insurer may be liable to the insured to pay the verdict rendered against the insured even though the verdict exceeds the policy limits. The reason for this rule is that the insurer may not gamble with the funds of its insured by refusing to settle within the policy limits.” McCall v. Allstate Ins. Co., 251 Ga. 869, 870 (1984).

If an insurance company receives a legitimate settlement offer pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1 and refuses to pay, you will likely get sued. When the lawsuit results in a verdict and judgment that exceeds your policy limits, you are legally responsible for paying the amount that exceeds your policy limits. Your insurance company will be responsible for paying any amount within the liability limits of your policy.

In situations like this, all may not be lost. After a judgment in excess of your policy limits is entered against you, you may be able to bring a claim against your insurance company for the excess amount if your insurer refused to settle for an amount within your policy limits.

Bad Faith Automobile Insurance Claims in Georgia

Georgia allows for bad faith claims with multiple types of insurance policies. The most common type of “bad faith” claim is one that is brought after an insurer rejects a time limited offer of settlement that an attorney sends in compliance with O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1.

O.C.G.A § 9-11-67.1 settlement offers are sent to the insurer of a driver that caused a wreck. When an insurance company fails to use good faith in negotiating car accident claims, it can leave its insured open to substantial financial exposure and mental anguish.  The insurer also exposes its insured to protracted litigation, the time and expense of attending depositions, participating in discovery and attending trial, the emotional anguish of reliving the collision and harm caused, and other financial loss such diminished credit ratings.

Therefore, Georgia allows an insured to sue his or her own insurance company when it acts in bad faith during settlement negotiations. In order to succeed in a bad faith lawsuit against a liability insurance carrier, the insured will need to prove:

  1. The insurer failed to give equal consideration to the interests of its insured,
  2. The insurer failed to accord its insured the same faithful consideration it accords its own interest,
  3. The insurer refused to settle because of an arbitrary belief that the insured was not liable, or
  4. The insurer refused to entertain a settlement offer with no regard given the position of its insured.

See Southern General Ins. Co. v. Holt, 262 Ga. 267 (1992) and O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1.

If an insured is successful in his or her bad faith claim, special damages, general damages, punitive damages, and legal fees may be available.

There are also laws discouraging bad faith negotiations with uninsured motorist claims. Uninsured motorist policies protect you when the person that causes an accident lacks enough liability insurance to cover your damages. Under current Georgia law, bad faith penalties for claims against an uninsured motorist insurance carrier are not as severe as those available for liability claims. Yet, if the insurance company makes a frivolous or unfounded denial, they could open themselves up to penalties. If litigation is required to recover on a bad faith claim, the plaintiff could also recover the cost of their attorney fees. You should always seek the advice of a reputable Georgia lawyer if you are considering bringing any type of bad faith claim.

Allstate and Their Approach to Settlement

Allstate’s aggressive approach to avoiding responsibility on liability claims has come back to haunt them more than once. Few of these instances are as memorable as a 2017 decision in Madrigal v. Allstate.

In that case, there was substantial evidence that Allstate’s insured was responsible for an accident. When the third party sought the full policy limits of $100,000, Allstate rejected it outright. In the days that followed, Allstate developed additional information that pointed to their insured as responsible for the claim. This included an independent witness that contradicted their insured’s account of what happened.

Ultimately, a jury found Allstate’s actions to be in bad faith and returned a verdict for more than $14 million.

Duty of an Insured Cooperate with the Insurance Company

Although automobile insurers must work to protect their insureds, their insureds also have a duty to cooperate with their insurer. Most automobile insurance policies contain what is commonly referred to as a “cooperation clause.” The “cooperation clause” requires an insured to cooperate with his or her insurance company anytime the insurer investigates or defends any claim brought against its insured. Quite simply, you have a contractual duty to cooperate with your automobile insurance company after you cause a wreck. In this context, cooperation means that you must timely report any accident, give your insurer a recorded statement, and attend any necessary legal proceedings like a deposition or a trial.

If you willfully and intentionally refuse to cooperate with your insurer, the insurer may deny coverage for any civil claim brought against you.

How an Attorney Could Help

One important thing to consider in these cases is that insurance companies like Allstate treat their policyholders differently if they have competent legal representation. While an insurer might be willing to string you along, they are more likely to deal fairly if they know your attorney is ready to take action against a bad faith settlement offer. If you find yourself in this situation, contact the Georgia trial lawyers at Williams Elleby Howard & Easter by calling 833-LEGALGA or (833-534-2542).

Georgia Auto Insurance Laws

A man wearing a suit in the background with the words ARE YOU INSURED in the foreground.

In Georgia, car insurance is required. It is there to protect both drivers and passengers in the event of an accident.

Minimum Requirements

If you drive a car in Georgia, you must have automobile liability insurance for the minimum limits required by law to drive on public roads and highways. Liability coverage pays for any damages you may cause to another driver or their property while on the road.

The minimum limits of liability required under Georgia law are:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person in an accident;
  • $50,000 for bodily injury or death of multiple people in an accident; and
  • $25,000 for property destruction of others in an accident.

Acceptable proof of Georgia liability insurance coverage:

  • Proof of insurance, filed by your insurance company, in the Department of Revenue’s database.
  • Rental agreement for a vehicle that is being rented.
  • Bill of Sale dated within 30 days of the date the vehicle was purchased and a valid insurance binder page.
  • A valid Self-Insured Insurance Card and a Certificate of Self-Insurance.
  • Valid Insurance policy information card for Georgia International Registration Plan.

Optional Coverage

If you can afford it, it is recommended that you also purchase additional coverage beyond the liability insurance. While additional coverage is not required by state law, it may be  required by the bank or finance company if there is a loan on the vehicle or if the vehicle is being leased. Additional coverage provides you with extra protection in the event of not only a collision but other non-accident related damages to your car.

Here are the most common types of optional kinds of insurance:

  • Collision Insurance: This covers you in the case of collision with other vehicles.
  • Comprehensive Insurance: This covers your car for non-accident related damages such as theft, vandalism, and fire damage.
  • Uninsured Driver InsuranceThis covers you if you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Showing Proof of Auto Insurance

You should keep a copy of your insurance policy card and registration in your vehicle. You must also be registered in the Georgia Electronic Insurance Compliance System (GEICS). This is used by law enforcement during traffic stops. Your insurance provider is responsible for registering you with GEICS.

Here are some common instances where you might need to show proof of auto insurance:

  • At the DMV when renewing, reinstating, and changing license plates.
  • At the request of a police officer during a traffic stop.
  • After an accident.

The Penalty for Driving Without Insurance

Driving a vehicle while the registration is suspended, revoked, or canceled is a criminal offense.

By law, the Georgia Department of Revenue must:

  • Suspend or revoke the registration of any vehicle that does not have continuous Georgia Liability insurance coverage.
  • Fine the vehicle owner/lessee $25 for any lapse of coverage while the vehicle is actively registered.
  • Fine the vehicle owner/lessee up to $160 in addition to the $25 fine if the lapse of coverage fine is not paid within 30 days and
  • Refuse to renew or reinstate vehicle registration for any of the following:
    • Fines have not been paid
    • An unresolved lapse of coverage
    • The vehicle is not insured

For More Information, Contact Our Georgia Car Accident Attorneys

If you have been in a car accident and you feel like you are owed compensation from an insurance company, contact  Williams Elleby Howard & Easter to schedule a free consultation by calling 833-LEGALGA.

What to Do When the Other Insurance Company Calls

Blurry image of a man in a suit in the background pointing toward a collection of insurance associated words in the foreground.

If you’ve been in an accident recently, the odds are good that a representative of the other person’s insurance company has contacted you. They will often call within a matter of hours of the accident happening, and they’ll often ask for a recorded statement.

The other insurance company isn’t asking for a statement just to make sure they have everything they need to pay for your damages, though. When an insurance company contacts you for a statement, they are hoping you will slip up and say something incriminating or even take responsibility for the accident.

The Other Insurance Company Isn’t On Your Side

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the frequency of bodily injury claims filed under auto liability insurance has steadily increased over the last five years. It’s no surprise, then, that these insurance companies will take steps to avoid paying out on any claim they can avoid. In most cases, these insurance companies will strive to:

  • Deny claims entirely when possible, or
  • Settle claims for pennies on the dollar

The most significant risk in discussing the case with the other insurance company is hurting the strength of your own claim. The insurance adjuster on the other end of the phone call is trained to use your words against you, and they are prepared to use your own words against you even if the accident wasn’t your fault. In some cases, the other insurance will compare your recorded statement to what you said to police in the accident report. If there are even minor discrepancies, the insurance company may use that as an excuse to deny the claim. And if your injury claim goes to trial, the insurance companies’ attorney can use your recorded statement to point out inconsistencies in your sworn testimony.

The truth is, there isn’t a good reason to speak with an adjuster for the other insurance company. Thankfully, you are under no obligation to speak with them at all. There are no real benefits to giving them a statement, but there are plenty of risks involved.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

The best step you can take to protecting your personal injury claim is to discuss your case with an experienced injury attorney right away. An attorney can guide you on how to respond to the other insurance company as well as your own. Don’t forget; while your own insurance company is supposed to be on your side, they could end up siding against you or denying your claim as well. The only way to have an experienced professional looking out for your interests is to hire a personal injury attorney.

Discuss Your Options With a Kennesaw, GA, Injury Attorney

If you have questions about your Georgia personal injury claim, contact a personal injury attorney. It is critical that you understand your legal rights, and the best chance at protecting your claim is by hiring the experienced attorneys. If you would like more information, contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, at 833-LEGALGA today for your free case evaluation.

Tips to Help Parents Recover for Medical Bills Incurred on Behalf of Their Minor Child

emergency center sign for children's hospital

There are few things parents fear more than their children suffering serious injuries. But as much as parents try to keep their children safe, accidents are bound to occur from time to time. Under Georgia law, parents have a right to seek compensation for medical expenses if their child is injured due to the negligence of someone else. Parents can also seek compensation on behalf of their child for pain and suffering. To recover compensation for medical bills incurred on behalf of a minor child, parents should ensure that they understand their rights, plead their case properly, and adhere to the statute of limitations for tort claims.

Parents Have a Right to Recover for Medical Bills

As mentioned, parents have a legal right to recover for medical bills if their child is injured due to someone else’s negligence. Other parties may also have a right to recover if they paid the medical bills in question and were acting as a guardian over the child. Parents should know that they have “standing,” or legal authority, to bring claims of their own for medical bills, as well as on behalf of their child for harms the child suffered.

Legal Standards Are Different for Children

Many children are injured because they are doing something unsafe, like wandering onto a neighbor’s property without invitation and getting hurt playing with a dangerous object. If an adult did something like this, they would likely not be entitled to compensation because they would be deemed at-fault in causing their own harm. But the legal standards governing the conduct of children are relaxed and there is a higher standard of care owed to children. For instance, a neighbor may not have any duty to prevent you from falling into their pool, but they do have a duty to keep a fence around their yard to prevent a toddler from doing the same. Similarly, companies have no duty to make products free of risks that are open and obvious to consumers, but they do have a duty to make products free of any obvious risks if they are marketing products to children.

Georgia’s Statute of Limitations

If your child has been injured due to a wrongful act, it is crucial to remember that under the Georgia statute of limitations a tort claim brought to recover for medical bills must generally be brought within two years of the date of the accident. Once the statute of limitations period has run, a parent’s claim for compensation for medical bills will be barred completely. However, a child’s own claim for pain and suffering damages can be made either by the parents or when the child turns 18 years old.

Distinguishing Medical Bills From Other Damages

It is important for parents or guardians bringing a claim on behalf of a minor to recognize that although they are entitled to compensation for medical bills, damages awarded for things like pain and suffering are solely the property of the child. Parents receiving money from a settlement or award on behalf of their child have a duty to only use that money if it is for the benefit of the child.

Georgia also has laws in place to ensure that the proceeds from these settlements or awards are safeguarded properly and go toward the benefit of the child. Under the Official Code of Georgia Title 29 Chapter 3 Section 3, settlements of more than $15,000 must be approved by the court. When a child receives an award of more than $15,000 from a personal injury claim, the parents must also be bonded as conservators to safeguard the money until the child turns 18. If an award is less than $15,000, the law simply states that parents “shall thereafter hold and use all or part of the personal property for the benefit of the minor and shall be accountable for the personal property.”

If Your Child Has Suffered an Injury, Contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, to Schedule a Free Consultation

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, are dedicated to getting justice for injury victims throughout the state of Georgia. If you would like to discuss your case or would like more information, contact Joel Williams today by calling 833-LEGALGA.

When Should I File My Personal Injury Claim?

file personal injury claim

Following a personal injury, people often know that they have a legal right to compensation, but it can be difficult to know how to proceed. If you have been injured in an accident, you should consult with an attorney to understand your legal rights and options. Filing a claim for compensation is one such option, and knowing when to file is important. 

So when should a personal injury claim be filed? The short answer is that you should not file your personal injury claim right away. It takes time to figure out the true value of a case and to investigate who all of the possible responsible parties might be. And even if you have a good case, it is important to consider whether it is worth the time and expense to bring a claim given the defendant’s ability to pay. 

If a lawsuit is viable, the most important thing to keep in mind is that statute of limitations for your claim. The statute of limitations establishes a set time period within which a claim must be made or else it will be barred. The statute of limitations for tort claims in Georgia is found in the Official Georgia Code Title 9 Chapter 3 Section 33, which states: “actions for injuries to the person shall be brought within two years after the right of action accrues.” An action “accrues” when a victim knows that they have been injured by the defendant’s conduct. Therefore, in most personal injury cases, the two-year limitations period begins as soon as the accident occurs. 

Insurance Claims 

In some cases, a personal injury victim can be fairly compensated by making a claim directly to the insurer of the responsible party. Often, insurance companies will attempt to offer as little as possible to claimants and will take advantage of claimants that do not fully understand the value of their case. It is a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney before accepting any offer from an insurance company. 


If an insurance company rejects a claim or refuses to pay an acceptable amount, or if a responsible party didn’t have insurance to begin with, a personal injury victim’s only option may be to file a lawsuit. It is often possible to negotiate a settlement before filing a lawsuit. A demand letter from an experienced personal injury attorney coupled with effective negotiation can sometimes result in a defendant offering a reasonable settlement before a lawsuit is filed to avoid the expense and risk of trial. 

Never Forget About the Statute of Limitations for Georgia Injury Lawsuits 

The most important thing for personal injury victims to remember is that they must file their claim before the statute of limitations period expires. Because it takes time to prepare a lawsuit to be filed, personal injury victims should hire an attorney to begin working on their case well in advance of this date. Once the statute of limitations period has expired, a claim is completely barred. 

For More Information, Contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, Today 

If you have been injured in an accident, Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, is here to help. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, represents personal injury claimants throughout the state of Georgia in all types of personal injury cases, including auto accidents, products liability, premises liability, medical malpractice, and wrongful death cases. To schedule a free consultation, contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, today by calling 833-LEGALGA.

Commissioner Silent as Car Insurance Rates Soar

rise car insurance rates

In recent years, auto insurance rates have been soaring in Georgia. One reason rates have been going up is that accidents are on the rise in Georgia. Another reason is that there is nothing to stop insurance companies from hiking up rates. Georgia used to regulate auto insurance rates so that insurers could only raise rates when given prior approval from the state to do so.

But in 2008, the Georgia legislature passed a bill deregulating the auto insurance industry. Today, insurance companies in Georgia can raise rates freely when they decide to.

Deregulation was supposed to increase competition and allow free market forces to drive prices down. But this didn’t happen. Instead, auto insurance rates have steadily risen in Georgia each year since. In 2016, Georgia saw the highest increase in personal auto insurance rates in the entire country. Overall, Georgia auto insurance premiums are the twelfth highest in the country.

Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgen has done little to address the rising rates. As a senator in 2008, Hudgen was the chairman of the Georgia Senate Insurance Committee and supported deregulation. His stance against regulating the insurance industry, coupled with the fact that he has accepted large campaign contributions from the insurance companies, has led many to wonder whether he is really looking out for Georgia consumers.

Insurance Companies Say Premiums Reflect Increase in Traffic and Accidents

Commissioner Hudgen and the insurance industry argue that rate hikes simply reflect the increasing risk of car accidents on Georgia roadways. There is pretty good evidence to back this claim up. According to the Georgia Office of Highway Safety, the number of auto crashes increased in Georgia for four consecutive years between 2011 and 2015. There were a record 385,221 accidents in 2015 (data for 2016 is not yet available.) Costs per claim are also on the rise.

Robert Hartwig, a risk management expert, told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution “it is certainly not the case that the private passenger auto insurers are earning a rate of return that in some way could be considered excessive or unreasonable.” Whether or not this is the case, the increasing risk of car accidents on Georgia roadways is at least one big reason that rates have been increasing.

Despite Cost, Personal Auto Insurance is Essential for Drivers

Rising insurance rates reflect the growing danger of Georgia roadways. Higher insurance costs also encourage some drivers to go without auto insurance. Uninsured motorists present a big problem for Georgia accident victims.

If you are thinking about driving without insurance to save money, don’t do it. Despite the costs, it is critical to have insurance coverage. Auto insurance is legally required and you can lose your license for driving without insurance. Drivers should also make sure their plan includes uninsured motorist coverage. If you are driving without insurance, it puts you at great risk legally and financially.

For More Information, Contact the Kennesaw Personal Injury Attorneys at Williams Elleby Howard & Easter

The Kennesaw ,Ga personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, are dedicated to helping auto accident victims get the compensation they deserve. If you would like more information about this issue, or if you have been in an accident and would like to discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, at 833-LEGALGA today.