Georgia Court Says Car Accident Governed by Federal Law

At any given time, there are several laws that can potentially govern a situation. For example, if someone is in Atlanta, they will be governed by any laws and regulations that govern the city of Atlanta, but also the state laws of Georgia and the federal laws of the United States. An individual may also be subject to specific laws based on their conduct, such as traffic laws if they are driving. The rules around what laws apply in which situations can get pretty complicated, and your skilled Georgia personal injury attorney can help you figure out what laws apply in your situation.

The Supremacy Clause 

The United States Constitution contains a provision known as the “supremacy clause.” This clause states that when federal law conflicts with state or municipal laws, federal law controls. There are certain areas of the law that are usually left to the states to govern. Generally, when there is a car accident, state law will control. Part of the case law around the supremacy clause states that when it is an area that is typically governed by state law, any federal law that Congress passes on that topic will not supersede state law unless it was clearly intended to. Insurance is one of those areas where this applies. Thus, any federal law regarding insurance will only preempt state law when Congress has required the preemption.

When it is Relevant

For many cases, this will not be relevant at all. However, there are some times when figuring out questions of federal preemption will be determinative. The case at issue is an example of when it is applicable. Here, the plaintiff was in an accident with a semi-truck. The truck was insured by a risk retention group. The plaintiff tried to sue the risk retention group, but the trial court found that federal law preempted any direct action against a risk retention group. The issue on appeal was whether the lower court was proper to rely on federal law to say that the direct claim was preempted.

Liability Risk Retention Act (LRRA)

The LRRA specifically notes that it preempts any state law that attempts to regulate or make unlawful risk retention groups. However, the state law where the risk retention group is chartered is tasked with the formation and operation of the groups. Here, Georgia law would allow direct suit of the risk retention group, whereas federal law prohibits it. So the case here essentially turns on whether allowing accident victims to sue risk retention groups directly is a type of regulation of the groups. The court here upheld the lower court’s ruling that it was a type of indirect regulation, and under the language of the federal law the plaintiff’s suit was preempted.

Contact an Experienced Gwinnett County Car Accident Attorney Today

As this case illustrates, the laws around insurance can be complicated. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you should contact a skilled Atlanta car accident attorney today. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Scholle Law represent accident victims throughout the greater Atlanta area, including Gwinnett, Fulton, and Cobb Counties. They can help you or a loved one recover the damages that you deserve. Clients only pay us if they recover. Schedule your free consultation today by calling 866-972-5287 or use the contact form on our website.

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