Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions
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I've been in a car wreck and I've received a letter from my own health insurance company demanding that I pay the medical bills back if I get a recovery in my automobile accident case. Do I really have to pay them back and is that legal?
It depends. In most cases today, insurance policies contain "subrogation" or "reimbursement" provisions that claim that the insurer can force you to repay if you recover damages in a lawsuit or settlement. While Georgia law generally prohibits an "assignment" of a personal injury case and disallows "subrogation", it does allow for "reimbursement" if you have been made "whole" for all "economic and non-economic" damages. The burden of proof is on the health or auto insurer to prove that you have been made whole, which is difficult to do if the case results in a general settlement.
If your "insurance" is through your employer, a federal law, known as ERISA, may trump (or "preempt") Georgia law. If the ERISA plan is "self-funded", you may be stuck having to repay. In other words, your "health insurance" acts like a glorified loan of funds, not true insurance.
What are the laws about riding in the back of a pick-up truck in Georgia?
If you are under the age of 18 and in the cab of the truck, you are required to wear a seat belt. It is only illegal to ride in the back of a pick up truck if you are under the age of 18 AND on an interstate highway. It is not illegal for a 16 year old to ride in the back of a pickup truck as long as you are not on an interstate highway.
It is my neighbor's dog that bit my child, and I don't want to "sue" them,do I really need to consult a lawyer?
You should always consult a lawyer before dealing with the insurance company. I never contact your neighbor and harass or scare them. I deal directly with their insurance company. Often times, the quickest way to get past the difficulty of dealing with a bad situation with a neighbor is to turn it over to someone else to handle. Remember, their insurance company is handling the situation for them and you would be wise to have an attorney handle it for you.
If a customer falls on the store’s premises and hurts himself, does he have a premises liability claim?
A store may be liable if a customer slips, trips or falls on the premises of that particular store. For example, if someone slips and falls on a wet floor or any other slick surfaces, snow or ice that has not been cleared where it should have been cleared (in walkways), then the store might be liable if it was aware or should have known about the danger and failed to warn visitors verbally or with a sign or clean it up. Building flaw, incorrect design that leads to less than safe use of the facility or store’s failure to light an area properly can also serve as the basis for a premises liability case. Let us help you determine if you have a premises liability claim that we may be able to help you resolve in your favor that will help you get reimbursed for your injuries and suffering. We are here to help you and your loved ones. Call us today at (404) 474-0804 for a free consultation.
Do I have to get three estimates?
No. This is a prevalent myth repeated so much that it is almost a part of American folklore. Since you can get the car fixed where you want, just get one estimate from the body shop of your choice. Be leery of the "approved" or favored shops of any particular insurance company as they may be beholden to the insurer and not be looking out for your best interests.
What if my estimate and the insurance company's estimate do not match?
They usually will not match. Just get your body shop man to call the insurance company – they should be able to work out the difference.
Will the other person's insurance company pay my medical bills up front?
In most situations, they will not. The other person's insurance will usually only pay your medical bills when the entire claim is settled at the end of the case.
The other person's insurance company sent me a letter saying that I do not need a lawyer and that they will treat me just as if I was their customer. Is this true?
This is an outright lie. I have never seen an insurance company explain all the rights to the victim. I have seen too many people get abused and frustrated by trying to handle their cases on their own. Car cases are more complicated than ever with today's law about subrogation, med-pay, under-insured motorist coverage and possible coordination with workers' compensation claims. Never forget that the job of your insurance adjuster is to pay you as little as possible in your claim. That is how they make profits for their company. They are not on your side. That is not what they are being paid for.
How much insurance are trucks required to carry by federal and/or state law?
If the truck operates between states (subject to federal law) then commercial vehicles are required to carry at least $750,000 of insurance for bodily injury. Georgia only imposes a minimum requirement of $100,00 for turcks that operate solely within Georgia.
What am I entitled to receive if my insurance company or the at fault party's insurance company declares my car a total loss?
When an auto insurer declares your vehicle a total loss, you might lose some hair because of the hassle, but you shouldn't lose your shirt. Auto insurers are responsible for paying the actual cash value or market value of your vehicle so you can replace it with a similar one, but that's only half the story. In Georgia, they are also responsible to pay for the "hidden" costs that come with purchasing a new vehicle, such as sales tax, title, and vehicle registration. The amount payable on taxes, license fees, and transfer fees shall be limited to the amount that would have been paid on the totaled, insured vehicle at the time of settlement.
Twenty-nine states require auto insurers to pay for the sales tax after you replace your crashed vehicle with a new or used one (see list at right). However, that doesn't necessarily mean insurers in those states are going to offer to pay sales tax up front, nor does it mean insurers in states that don't require those reimbursements will refuse to pay. That's why it's important to ask the insurer to reimburse you, even if the state in which you live does not require it.