Why Car Accident Injury Victims Need Legal Representation When Pursuing an Uninsured Motorist Claim
When a driver traveling the roadways of Gwinnett County is struck by a distracted driver who runs a red light, the injury victim typically will look to the other motorist's liability coverage to pay for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, vehicle repairs, and other damages. However, this option offers limited relief if the other driver is uninsured. Fortunately, many Georgia drivers purchase uninsured motorist coverage, which can provide critical financial compensation to driver's injured by uninsured drivers.
Our Atlanta auto collision lawyers often hear from accident victims who are unsure why they need an attorney to pursue a UM claim with their own insurance carrier. The recent Georgia Court of Appeals decision, King-Morrow v. American Family Insurance Co., provides a glaring example of the benefit of legal representation when pursuing a UM claim.
The individual injured in the crash was the mother of the insured. The adult daughter's insurance coverage provided in pertinent part that it covered "relatives living in the policyholder's household." At the time of the collision, the mother was residing in the home with the insured. The crash was not reported to the insurance company until two years after the accident when the mother sought UM benefits under her daughter's auto insurance policy.
While the insurer conceded that the UM coverage extended to the mother, the carrier claimed that it had no obligation to pay the claim because notice was not timely. The auto policy at issue in this case like most policies imposed a duty on the insured to "promptly notify" the insurance company to receive UM benefits. The policy further provided that failure to comply with this notice requirement would relieve the insurer of the duty to pay UM benefits under the policy. The trial court accepted this argument and granted summary judgment in favor of the carrier.
On appeal, the court reversed the trial judge's decision granting summary judgment for the insurer. The majority emphasized that the insurance contract was ambiguous and subject to two conflicting interpretations. The relevant language of the policy provided that "if you have an accident or loss . . . tell us promptly," [emphasis added]. The appellate court found that "you" could reasonably be interpreted to refer only to the insured or to also extend to family members living with the insured. Because the term was ambiguous, the court construed the insurance policy in favor of the insured and against the carrier which drafted the language of the policy.
The principle governing that ambiguities in an insurance policy should be construed against the insurance carrier is just one concept of contract construction that an experienced Auto Collision Injury Lawyer might rely on when pursuing a UM claim. These types of subtle and complex legal distinctions can make an enormous difference when an insured pursues a claim for benefits under the UM coverage of his or her auto insurance policy.
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If you have been injured in a crash caused by an uninsured driver, our Car Accident Lawyers work diligently to pursue the fullest compensation for our clients. Montlick and Associates has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.