Some people lie. It’s a sad fact, but one we need to deal with. If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, the other motorist might falsely claim that you were to blame. Even worse, the police officer who responds to the accident might agree with the motorist and tag you as responsible for the incident.
Fortunately, motorists victimized by false auto accident claims do have options. Below, our car accident lawyers review the information every motorist needs to know.
The Officer’s Determination of Fault Isn’t Binding
When an officer responds to a crash scene, he or she should interview witnesses and inspect the vehicle to fully understand what happened. An officer might also make a preliminary determination of fault. Many people are panicked that an officer has fingered them as the responsible party when they were actually victims.
We have good news: this is just the officer’s opinion. Obviously, the cop did not see the accident, so he is not a witness. And the officer’s opinion does not carry legal weight.
Liability is always something that insurance companies need to hash out by reviewing the evidence themselves. If they can’t agree on liability, then the case might go to a trial.
Your Insurer Will Investigate
If you have car insurance, your insurer will need to determine whether you are at fault for the wreck. They will assign an insurance adjuster to your case, and this person will interview you to get your side of the story. They will also interview other witnesses and possibly look at the cars involved.
Rest assured, your insurer is committed to smoking out fraudulent claims. They don’t want to pay compensation if they don’t have to, so they have an incentive to thoroughly review all relevant facts and identify who truly is at fault.
After an investigation, however, your insurer might agree that you are at least partially at fault for the collision. If so, the insurer will pay compensation to people who are injured. There is not much to do even if you think the claim is fraudulent. After all, this is why you carry insurance, to protect yourself in the event someone makes a claim.
Your Insurer Might Defend You
Sometimes, insurance companies cannot agree on fault. Your insurer might believe that you are blameless, while the other driver’s insurer is 100% committed to blaming you. In this situation, the case might go to trial.
Most insurance policies state that the insurer will hire and pay for an attorney to defend you in the case. Read your policy to make sure. Of course, the insurer typically reserves the right to pick the lawyer and to decide whether to settle the case (and for how much). But they will usually pay for someone to defend you, which is a huge relief.
You Need to Defend Yourself if Uninsured
Although insurance is required to register a vehicle in Georgia, some people refuse to carry it or cancel it soon after registering. Anyone uninsured is responsible for their own defense. This means that you would be responsible for:
- Investigating your case, including contacting and interviewing witnesses
- Obtaining key pieces of physical evidence, such as inspecting the vehicles involved in the crash
- Hiring and paying for an attorney on your own or defending yourself pro se in a lawsuit
Refusing to carry insurance is a big risk, and if you just try to ignore the lawsuit the other side can seek a default judgment.
The good news for the uninsured is that the odds are low that the other driver can get a lawyer to represent them. Although you can be sued personally, many lawyers see this as too big of a hassle. Many defendants don’t have enough resources to make getting sued a valuable use of time.
Your Insurance Premiums Can Increase
Georgia law prevents an insurer from raising premiums when an insured is not at fault for the accident. See O.C.G.A. §33-9-40. However, premiums can spike if you were at fault for a wreck. The decision to raise premiums lies with the insurer. Drivers who have negative marks on their records—such as accidents—usually see an increase, but the amount depends on several factors.
Based on our experience, even one accident on a record causes premiums to skyrocket. A report from CBS News found that drivers with at least one accident on their record saw an increase of around 40%. If a driver makes two claims in a year, then their premiums almost double.
Contact a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer
MG Law is well versed in all areas of car accident law, and we have helped many injured victims obtain compensation. If you were injured in a crash, please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
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