Any car accident is challenging. There are medical concerns, repairs to be considered, and what seems like mountains of red tape to be overcome just to get your claim settled. When your Georgia accident involves another driver who happens to be from another state, your challenges seem to triple.
If you’ve been in an accident with an out-of-state driver, you may have a new and different set of hoops to jump through. Where do you file a claim? Do you need to travel to another state to get your money? Chances are you have some pressing questions to which you have no easy answers.
In this article, we will provide you with some basic information to give you a clearer picture of how these matters are handled. We’ll answer some of the questions you’re bound to have and we’ll show how, in spite of the confusion dealing with another state’s laws and insurance rules, your case may be resolved with a full and fair settlement or verdict in the end.
- How are accident claims different from state to state?
- Do I have to hire a lawyer to settle an out-of-state insurance claim?
- Will I have to go to court?
- Is the at-fault driver subject to Georgia Laws?
- How can I be sure I’m getting everything I need from the settlement?
How are accident claims different from state to state?
A Georgia accident claim that involves one or more drivers from more than one state can be more complicated to handle since there may be issues of venue and jurisdiction (who to sue and where), differences in the procedural laws, statutes of limitation, and in the laws controlling the insurance contractsand possibly even liability requirements.
It is obviously also more difficult and expensive to investigate a driver or company from another state, to deal with their insurance company or claims department, and to file and serve a lawsuit (when necessary) on persons and companies in distant states.
Do I have to hire a lawyer to settle a claim against an out-of-state driver?
No. However, for the reasons listed above, among others, your most effective settlement option is probably to allow a lawyer to act on your behalf.
In the beginning, accidents involving out-of-state drivers are not much different than claims against local, Georgia drivers. Of course you’ll report the accident to your own insurance carrier. This is one of your first responsibilities after an accident. (You can find an auto accident checklist here.).
Beyond that, however, because your accident is caused by a driver from another state, things can get more difficult. Likely, you will be dealing with an insurance adjuster from the home-area of the at-fault driver who may make it more difficult on you, knowing that it will be harder for you to know which laws do and do not apply to its driver and that you may not be ready, willing and able to file a lawsuit against the its insured driver. When an adjuster has little or no fear that its at-fault driver can or will be sued, you are less likely to receive a fair offer
I shouldn’t have to pay for my hospital bills, should I?
By law in Georgia, the at-fault driver is liable for your injuries, whether they are from Georgia or another state. How this process may actually take place may depend on the types and nature of insurance available. Be cautioned, however that in the beginning, it may be that your own health or auto insurance will pay for your medical bills and will ask to be repaid by the at-fault insurance company later through subrogation. (Read more about subrogation here.). If you don’t have any medical insurance or another way to pay for your medical care, consult with your injury attorney. Most experienced Georgia personal injury law firms have ways of helping you find and obtain appropriate medical care.
Will I have to go to court?
Most personal injury cases wind-up in an out of court settlement. In fact, negotiation between your lawyer and the defendant’s insurance carrier is almost always the way settlements are arrived at –most settlements are reached before a lawsuit is ever filed with the court. In total, 80-90 percent of injury cases are resolved through settlement, either before or after suit is filed.
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can review the specifics of your accident, where and how it occurred, and will advise you about the proper location to file a claim or lawsuit. Your lawyer will also be able to tell you about how much your settlement should be worth and work to get whatever it takes to make you “whole” again.
While we may not have to go to court with your claim, we will prepare from the beginning to do so. This ensures that we have all the facts we need to present your case even if it does go to trial.
Is the at-fault driver subject to Georgia Laws?
Yes. Georgia laws protect citizens from harm done by drivers from other states.The Georgia Long-Arm Statute may give you the right to sue a defendant who came to Georgia and injured you through negligence. O.C.G.A. 9-10-91. Additionally, the Georgia Non-Resident Motorist Act,O.C.G.A. 40-12-1,givesthe plaintiff the right to sue in the Georgia County in which the accident happened.
How can I be sure I’m getting everything I need from the settlement?
We recommend, at the very least, consulting with an attorney. Most reputable injury attorneys offer a free consultation. The nature of a free consultation is that you are under no obligation to hire the lawyer or firm. But, we feel that you owe it to yourself to know your rights.
Here’s what people don’t always understand; the defendant’s insurance company already has an experienced adjuster or attorney looking at your claim, working to protect their insured and to minimize your claim. The only thing they do all day every day is find ways to make settlements smaller or non-existent. That’s how the insurance business works.
A well-seasoned car accident lawyer will be able to provide you with more detailed information regarding how to protect yourself and your interests.
The Millar Law Firm offers free legal advice by telephone and in-person.
Contact the Millar Law Firm today and speak to an injury lawyer. Our firm specializes in personal injury law – for us it’s a specialty, not a sideline. We have been helping victims of negligent drivers since 1993. Our attorneys have over 65 years of hands-on experience settling claims for our clients.
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a negligent driver, call the experienced professionals at the Millar Law Firm today for your free case evaluation – 770-4Million (770-400-0000), we’re standing by to speak with you.