As accident attorneys, we’re always fighting to maximize the total recovery for our clients. At the same time, insurance lawyers are doing the opposite. One area where there is a constant tug of war ongoing between injury victims and insurance companies is uninsured motorist coverage.
Georgia requires that all drivers have at least $25,000.00 liability insurance, but as we all know, not everyone obeys the law. Uninsured motorist coverage is an optional insurance coverage that fills in the gap by providing insurance coverage for damage/injuries caused by another motorist who does not have liability insurance or who has minimum insurance. Although uninsured motorist coverage is optional, it’s relatively inexpensive, and we highly, highly recommend everyone purchase this coverage.
Many times the defendant (party that caused the accident) will want some type of credit if the injury victim has made an uninsured motorist coverage recovery. This is where the tug of war mentioned above takes place. Whether a defendant should receive an uninsured motorist coverage set off was the subject of Adkins v. Knight, 256 Ga. App. 394 (2002). In that case, a jury awarded a car accident victim $50,000.00 for his injuries. Prior to trial, the car accident victim had settled with his uninsured motorist insurer for $35,000.00. The defendant argued that the verdict should be reduced by $35,000.00, from $50,000.00 to $15,000.00, because of the uninsured motorist coverage settlement. The Georgia Court of Appeals disagreed. Citing an older case, Thompson v. Milam, 115 Ga. App. 396 (1967), the Court explained as follows: “‘A tortfeasor can not diminish the amount of his liability by pleading payments made to the plaintiff under the terms of a contract between the plaintiff and a third party who was not a joint tortfeasor.'” Thus the court held that the defendant could not set off the $50,000.00 verdict.
This is one of many complexities involved in properly resolving an injury case in Atlanta, Georgia. We hope you’ll call us so we can help you fight for every last dime you’re entitled to.