Does a Personal Injury Claim Affect Insurance?
After a serious accident, medical bills, property damage, lost wages, or funeral expenses can leave you feeling like there’s no way to financially recover. To top it off, you must fight insurance companies to get the money you need. You can be sure they will take every chance to deny payment for your financial troubles stemming from the accident.
Plus, they might see a personal injury claim on your record and try to increase your rates. Fortunately, Georgia law states that an accident should not increase your insurance rates as long as you were not found at fault. Other factors may affect this, but in general, an insurance company should not raise rates due to a personal injury claim, at least in the state of Georgia.
Don’t let the fear of increased insurance rates keep you from seeking payment for the damages you incurred in an Atlanta car accident. After all, medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages are likely to be far more expensive than the potentially increased car insurance rates.
Hire an Atlanta car accident attorney with a track record of winning cases like yours. Call the Law Offices of Andrew E. Goldner, LLC at 404-869-1580 to schedule your free consultation today.
When Can Insurance Companies Raise Rates?
Insurance companies will raise their rates any time they see a policyholder as more likely to trigger a claim, whether that’s filing a claim themselves or causing a claim to be filed on their liability policy. Generally, insurers set and change their rates based on several factors including the following:
- Your location
- Your age
- How long you’ve had insurance
- Your credit score
- Accidents you were at fault for
- Traffic violations on your record
- How many claims have been filed recently
You can see that rates can be changed for a lot of reasons. Even though being involved in an accident where you were not at fault should be excluded from that list, sometimes insurance companies find ways to increase rates anyway.
A study by the Consumer Federation of America found that many insurance companies raise premiums after not-at-fault accidents by as much as 16%. While Atlanta ranked pretty low on that list, you should still keep an eye on your insurance rates. If your provider attempts to increase rates after a not-at-fault accident, it may be a good sign you should start shopping for new insurance.
Comparative Negligence and Fault in Georgia
In most states, personal injuries are dealt with in a comparative manner. This means that even if you are only slightly negligent in your accident, you may still be found partially at fault.
For instance, the driver who hit you was texting, smoking, drinking, and running stop signs. But you were fiddling with the radio, so an accident investigation determines that you hold some portion of the blame. In a case like this, you might receive a small portion of the blame, say 5-25%, while the other driver receives the remainder.
Georgia laws still allow victims to recover damages from liable third-parties provided they are assigned less than 50% of the fault for the accident. Note that their total damages award will be reduced by their approximate percentage of assumed blame.
Georgia’s laws protect individuals from insurance surcharges and other added costs after the policyholder has been in an accident and, “was not at fault in such an accident” (GA Code § 33-9-40). However, being found even a small portion at fault could be considered as not falling under these protections.
This means it is often up to your insurer on whether to alter your rates. It would be prudent to find out if your car insurance company raises rates on drivers that are partially responsible for an accident or not.
How Insurance Handles Atlanta Hit and Run Accidents
Hit and run accidents are frighteningly more common than you think. Georgia ranks 4th in the US for fatal hit and run crashes.
Insurance companies treat these accidents differently. Depending on what kind of coverage you have, a hit-and-run accident could wind up increasing your rates down the line. Extra coverage (like uninsured motorist coverage) may be a good choice to cover potential damages from a hit and run or uninsured driver and may decrease the likelihood that your rates are raised later on.
Fight Insurance Companies With an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer
Insurance companies have the primary motivation of paying out as little money as possible for accidents while taking as much as possible in premiums. There’s always the risk that an accident may increase your insurance bill, but that amount will pale in comparison to the costs of therapy, medicine, surgeries, pain and suffering, mechanic’s bills, and other expenses related to an accident. A skilled Atlanta car accident attorney will be able to help you fight for a settlement that adequately covers your damages.
The Law Offices of Andrew E. Goldner, LLC has been fighting for the victims of Georgia car accidents for nearly 20 years and has won many cases like yours. You’ll find few Atlanta car accident lawyers as dedicated to fighting for the compensation you need to fully recover from your injuries. Give us a call at 404-869-1580 to schedule a free consultation at no risk or obligation to you.