The Scholle Law Firm is a Duluth, GA personal injury law firm. Our office handles many cases related to motor vehicle accidents and other injuries that involve negligence. In this article for our Georgia Personal Injury & Accident Guide we will discuss a real situation with a prospective client that was injured by an uninsured driver. This person contacted our office for a free case evaluation. Unfortunately we were not able to assist them and the importance of the reason why is the motivation to write this.
As a personal injury law firm, our office is able to speak to many different cases regarding all kinds of different injury matters. We work with people in car accidents, people hurt at work and people that are hurt on other people’s property. Every case is different and every call is different. The end result for many of these calls is offering to help them with their injury case. Many times we are able to help. In some cases there are issues that prevent us from being able to get involved. This case with an uninsured driver was one.
The facts of the call in question were simple. The person that called our office was hit by a vehicle in a parking lot. The person suffered serious injuries that were thankfully not catastrophic, yet still very serious. Besides the pain of being hurt as a pedestrian by a car and having to spend a lot of time recovering, there were also significant medical bills that piled up as a result of the accident. (In situations like this there can also be other potential damages such as lost wages, future medical care and other economic and non-economic damages.)
Why They Called
This person contacted our office because we are personal injury lawyers that deal with cases related to motor vehicle accidents and serious pedestrian injury cases. When we spoke to the person they indicated that they were motivated to call because they did not know what to do with their medical bills and they had questions about potential compensation. Whenever we speak to a prospective client we do our best to make sure that we have a full understanding of their concerns so we can address them.
The Accident Was Caused By Someone Else
After speaking to them generally about the facts of their case it was apparent that the person was not responsible for their accident or injuries. A preliminary review of the police report also indicated that the potential case had favorable liability for the person that had contacted our office. In Georgia it is possible to recover even if you are partially responsible for the accident. However in this case there was no such issue. Additionally it is a best case scenario when all of the liability can be attributed to another party.
We look at multiple things during a case evaluation. After liability, we will certainly want to discuss the injuries and how serious they are. This caller had extensive injuries that required a significant amount of medical care. Just based on the person’s limited description of their injuries there was no doubt as to whether the person had suffered serious injuries as a result of the other person’s negligence.
Making The Decision To Hire An Attorney
While there is no requirement that an injured person hire a personal injury attorney, cases involving very serious injuries are often very complex. An experienced personal injury lawyer can be a great resource and value for someone in that situation. We take the approach that prospective clients should be advised of how we can help but should never feel obligated or “sold” on their decision to hire us. We want our clients to feel comfortable and not pushed or rushed into hiring us. That is just the right way to treat people.
Negligent Driver Was Uninsured
The complications with this person’s case were apparent after speaking to them about their injuries and the facts of their case. Our next topic of inquiry related to insurance coverage. Prior to calling our office this person had done a lot of research about personal injury cases and insurance. Even so, they had reached a dead end. We will generally inquire about the contact a prospective client may have already had with insurance companies and adjusters. In this example the person had already spoken to the at-fault person’s insurance company.
The insurance company spoke to this person and helped them file the claim. The person found the at-fault driver’s insurance information on the Georgia motor vehicle crash report. Filing an injury claim does not mean that there is a good case or even that there is available insurance! In this example the person found out several days after filing the claim that the at-fault driver’s liability insurance had just lapsed. This means a couple of things. First, this means that there was no liability insurance to pay an injury claim. Lastly, it means that you can still pursue the person individually but it is very difficult to get money from uninsured individuals.
No Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage
When analyzing insurance, the next step in helping someone injured by an uninsured motorist would be to investigate if that person has uninsured motorist (UM) coverage or lives with someone that has uninsured motorist coverage. In this case the person did not carry uninsured motorist coverage and did not live with anyone that had uninsured motorist coverage. This type of insurance is for this specific purpose. It would take the place of the uninsured at-fault driver’s lapsed liability policy. It would even cover in this instance of being hit as a pedestrian outside of a car.
Cases Against Uninsured At-Fault Drivers and No UM
One of the most frustrating things that injury lawyers have to do is to decline cases like this. We are in the business of helping people with civil injury claims. That means that people hire our personal injury firm to get them compensation for their damages. We do this every day when we fight against the big insurance companies. In the case of someone seriously hurt by a negligent and uninsured driver and without uninsured motorist coverage, generally there is unfortunately little that we can do.
Pursuing Uninsured Individuals
It is important to note that the lack of insurance does not take away the legal validity of the case. But what it does do is make it very difficult for this person to recover money from the at-fault driver. If you research the issue you will find that yes the law does provide ways to pursue judgments after you successfully get one. Additionally, we would never tell someone not to pursue that route. On the contrary we would encourage them to speak to another lawyer for a 2nd opinion and or representation.
However, in a case without any insurance companies (including uninsured driver coverage) to pay a settlement or jury verdict our firm is generally going to decline to pursue an insured at-fault driver individually. We do our best to explain these issues to clients. Some firms may just say they can’t move forward without such an explanation. We just do not do that. While no one likes bad news, we find that an honest explanation is the appropriate thing to do. In this scenario we declined to take the case, explained why, and recommended that the client speak to another attorney for a 2nd opinion and or representation. The caller was gracious and thanked us for our time.
Too Many Georgia Drivers Without Insurance
People in Georgia have no idea how many drivers there are out on the roads without any liability insurance. These situations happen all of the time. It never gets any easier when you have to explain to a prospective client about how they can have a case with good facts but may ultimately never receive compensation because there is no available insurance to pay a settlement or verdict. Liability coverage is required in Georgia. Even with this requirement and penalties for violations, people continue to drive without liability insurance and cause accidents.
A Lawyer’s Advice
If there is one thing that people should consider doing it should be to carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Insurance is not free and we do understand that finances can hamper the ability to have extensive insurance coverage. However, in comparison to other types of car insurance and the potential cost of medical bills (caused by an uninsured driver) purchasing uninsured motorist insurance is a real value.
If you do not drive but live with someone that does, make sure that they carry it for themselves and for you as well. Remember that most policies may also extend to people living in the household of the insured driver. That is why they ask who you live with when you apply for a new car insurance policy. We hope that you never have to use it, but having an uninsured motorist policy on roads filled with uninsured drivers is some of the best advice that we can give.
Duluth Georgia Injury and Accident Lawyers
This topic is just one of many issues that we see. In this example we were unable to help but that does not happen all too often. Even if someone thinks a lawyer can’t help, they should still talk to a lawyer. We always tell people it is a best practice to let an experienced attorney evaluate before giving up. The issues are vast and complex and it is always a good idea to run the facts by a lawyer. Anyone with a potential injury case can contact us for a free evaluation. We will be honest and help if we can. We promise.
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