Recent survey shows distracted driver’s are causing more traffic fatalities than DUI drivers. For information on recovering damages against a DUI driver who injured you click here. This is the seventh year in a row distracted drivers have held this status. Distracted driving includes texting while driving, talking on the phone while driving, and pretty much any scenario you can imagine. The Georgia General Assembly has outlawed.
Every person who has been injured do to the negligence or intentional acts of another will be faced with the question of are all or a portion of my settlement monies recoverable by my medical insurance company. Generally, unless you have been made whole, received a 100% recovery for your damages, under Georgia law you are entitled to keep monies from your insurance company that paid your medical bills.
The big exception to the made whole doctrine is if there is an ERISA subrogation lien. What is an ERISA subrogation lien? Health plans can and generally do establish a right to reimbursement for money paid for injuries or disabilities that arise from the conduct or actions of a third party. A health care plan is where a large employer is self insured, for example Verizon, Lowe’s etc. For example, if you are injured and your employer’s healthcare plan pays out $25,000 for injures caused by an at fault driver. Because the healthcare plan, your employer, paid out the funds on your behalf they are trying to recover their share of your pie, in other words they are entitled to “subrogation”.
The first step to deciding what is owed is to determine the total paid out. Next it is to look at the plans provisions, i.e. language stating what your employer’s health care plan is entitled to. For example if it does not say it applies regardless of if you have been made whole than there is a good chance you can keep more of your settlement. If the plan does not specify whether it is to share in costs to recover fee, i.e. your a personal injury attorney’s legal fee, there is a good chance the subrogation lien can be reduced.
In the state of Georgia subrogation liens from health care plans are an evolving area of law. You and your lawyer should work together to retain the largest share possible for you to “take home”.
Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist coverage, collectively referred to as UM Coverage, for many persons is the most important insurance to have and hardly anyone knows about it or understands what it is for. It is for when someone else hurts you and cannot pay the bills and costs they caused you.
On every insurance policy issued in Georgia there is a requirement the insurance company offer you UM coverage. This is coverage to protect you, your family you reside with, and the passengers in your vehicle when another driver injures you or your passengers do to no fault of your own and they do not have insurance or enough insurance coverage to cover your injuries, bills, or lost work wages. To increase this coverage beyond the state mandatory minimum of $25,000 can be just a few dollars a month.
Client Example: Recently, Andrew had a real case example of the different outcomes for clients with quality UM coverage and the possible results for a client without quality UM coverage.
Andrew’s client, we will call him John G., was riding a dirt bike through his neighborhood when a large SUV turned left without yielding in front of him. John G. struck the side of the SUV, was thrown from his motorcycle, and shattered both of his knees. John G. was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital. There John G. had multiple surgeries and amassed a $140,000 medical bill.
John G. retained Andrew. John G.’s biggest problem was the SUV only had $50,000 in liability coverage, which is better than most insurance policies and double the state minimum of $25,000. John G. owed a $140,000 to his doctor’s, had no health insurance, and only knew of one insurance company to contact, the at fault SUV’s insurance company.
John G. retained Andrew and Andrew quickly identified that John G. resided with his Grandmother, in Under Insured Motorist law she is a “resident relative”, and she had two separate underinsured motorist policies, one from State Farm Insurance for $50,000 and one from All-State Insurance for $25,000. Because John G. was living with his grandmother at the time of his injury he was given legal standing under the policies to recover, even thought he was not listed on them anywhere.
Because of John G.’s grandmother’s insurance choices prior to the wreck her grandson’s potential recovery went from $50,000 to to potentially $125,000. This is why anyone reading this should stop, contact your insurance company, and increase your UM coverage now!
Without having the UM coverage, John G.’s entire recovery may have been turned over to the hospital, doctors. and legal fees. In John G’s case all three insurance policies turned over their limits.
Andrew himself believes there is no more important insurance to have and to share a bit of personal information Andrew’s UM limits are $500,000.
In any personal injury settlement a client’s first question is how much of the settlement will go in my pocket? Hiring an excellent attorney to handle your claim is important but it is also important your attorney handle the resolution of everyone’s claim who has their hand out asking for a piece of your hard-won settlement or judgment.
An example, in Georgia medical insurers or benefit providers have a right to be reimbursed for the money they pay out to medical providers for your injury. In Georgia it is important to be aware of the “made whole doctrine”, O.C.G.A. 33-24-56.1. In short, recovering money is not enough for an insurance company to get a piece of your settlement. You have to be made whole, meaning you have recovered all your economic and noneconomic damages. If you did not get every dollar you lost by being injured than you should not have to pay the insurance company back. There are a few exceptions to this, for instance if you are insured under an ERISA insurance plan or a policy that is self-funded by your employer.
Under Georgia law, if a drunk driver (DUI driver) causes a wreck it is best to contact an attorney immediately. When someone is driving drunk or recklessly a person who is injured, even just a little, can pursue a case for punitive damages.
Punitive damages are not damages for your pain and suffering or out of pocket expenses. Punitive damages are damages to punish the drunk driver for flagrantly disregarding your safety and the safety of our community. If you are struck by a drunk driver, in most cases, your attorney will be seeking a policy limit demand against the drunk driver’s insurance company. In none legal language, you should pursue and work to recover all the insurance monies of the drunk driver.
Drunk driver personal injury suits generally result in larger financial recoveries for the persons injured by the drunk drivers. If you have been hit by a drunk driver you should hire an attorney today to protect your rights.