Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

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Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer and Auto Accident Attorney litigation involving the effectiveness of a notice of cancellation of a car insurance policy was addressed this past year by the Georgia Supreme Court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit certified the following question for the Georgia Supreme Court to answer: Was a notice of cancellation, properly given after a premium was past due, ineffective because it provided an opportunity for an insured to keep the policy in force by paying the past-due premium within the statutory 10 day period?

In the lawsuit, the insurance company contended that a policy was not in effect on the date of a collision due to a cancellation notice. The insurance company had sent out a notice entitled “CANCELLATION NOTICE, NONPAYMENT OF PREMIUM,” and the cancellation date was printed out in small boxes at the top and bottom of the paper. The paper also had “NONPAYMENT NOTIFICATION,” and “NON PAY NOTICE” stamped in large letters. The insurance company’s notice also contained payment options and a detachable payment stub.

The Georgia Supreme Court answered the certified question in the negative, noting that to be legally sufficient under O.C.G.A. §§ 33-24-45(c)(1) and 33-24-44, a cancellation notice had to positively and unequivocally state that the cancellation was occurring.
The mere fact that the notice contained an option for an insured to avoid the imminent cancellation did not change the clear statement that coverage was being terminated for nonpayment.

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north georgia mts.jpgVery tragically, two people were killed yesterday in northeast Georgia in fatal car accidents. A 47 year old woman of Homer, died after her car crossed the center line and hit another car on Georgia 51. This occurred near Homer, in Banks County just before five o’clock. Five other people were injured in the crash.

Earlier that afternoon a 73-year-old died in a one-car accident near Dawsonville. Georgia State Patrol says reported that the victim was in an automobile that left Hubbardsville Road and collided with a tree.

The loss of a loved one due to a tragic accident is one of the most difficult things families can face. To add insult to injury, it is unfortunate that so many insurance companies fail to compensate the victim and victim’s family without a fight.

In the typical Georgia automobile policy, an insurance company agrees to pay money for that which the insured driver becomes legally obligated to pay in damages such as bodily injury, sickness or death.

Bodily injuries covered includes the broad range of physical and mental injuries for which one can recover compensation for under the tort law of the state. This could include physical injuries, mental distress, lost wages, medical expenses, liability to a spouse for loss of consortium, and general damages for pain and suffering.

Generally and unfortunately however, insurance companies never pay the full amount of compensation for a person’s injuries. The insurance adjuster who contacts the injured person or injured person’s family member often have an objective to get them to settle for the lowest amount of money possible.

This not only hurts the injured person and their family, but also the insured driver whose negligence caused the injuries. And when accidents happen, everyone wants their insurance company to adequately represent them if they are at fault. Yet if an insurance company doesn’t cover their insured driver properly and the driver ends up being found liable for causing injuries, it is the driver at fault who will be personally liable for the excess amount of the judgment that is not covered by the insurance policy.

Fortunately however, Georgia law protects insured drivers by punishing insurance companies who act in bad faith. Georgia courts have ruled that the insurance company is liable for an excess judgment if it is guilty of bad faith, fraud, or negligence in failing to settle within the policy limited. Allstate Ins. Co. v. Harris, 133 Ga. App. 567 (1974). Georgia courts also now require that the insurance company give equal consideration to the insured driver’s financial interest as to their own. Southern General Ins. Co. v. Holt, 262 Ga. 267 (1992).
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Multiple automobile accidents occurred throughout Georgia today due to the snowy weather. As of late tonight the roads are still dangerous, so until the sun melts the snow off the roads it is best to avoid driving if at all possible. If you do need to drive, consider the following top ten tips for dealing with icy roads:

1. Decrease your speed significantly and allow three to six car lengths between you and the car in front of you to stop.

2. Brake gently to avoid skidding.

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