Generally speaking, if another person causes a car accident through their negligence, then you would file for damages with that person’s car insurance company. If you are the responsible party, then the other person would file a claim for damages against your insurance company.
Most people understand that if they cause an accident and the other driver files a claim against their insurance company, their monthly premiums will almost certainly go up. This is an unfortunate result of causing a car accident.
There are a couple of situations, however, where you may file against your own insurance company, but not necessarily because the accident was your fault. If this is the case, will your insurance premiums increase because of this?
Under the 2018 Georgia Code, Title 33, Chapter 9 (§ 33-9-40), there are certain prohibitions regarding raising your monthly insurance premiums for an accident that was not your fault.
Multi-Vehicle or Chain Reaction Accidents
Specifically, when a multi-vehicle accident or a “chain reaction” accident occurs (that you did not cause), your insurance company may not raise your rates when you file for damages. Motor vehicle accidents that involve many vehicles can cause significant difficulties in determining liability—who is at fault. Accidents involving multiple vehicles usually also involve a substantial level of injuries and damage to vehicles.
As an example, let’s say Vehicle 1 ran a red light, striking Vehicle 2. Upon impact, Vehicle 2 was knocked into a semi-truck carrying lumber. When Vehicle 2 hit the semi-truck, a large amount of lumber spilled out onto the roadway, striking Vehicles 3, 4, and 5. In this particular instance, the only driver at fault was the driver of Vehicle 1. If this can be proven, then those in Vehicles 2, 3, 4, 5, and the driver of the semi-truck would all file claims against Driver 1’s insurance.
An Act of God
In some instances, either there is no driver specifically at fault, or it just can’t be determined which driver was at fault. Suppose adverse weather conditions like snow, ice, or high winds caused a multi-vehicle car crash. In this case, there may not have been a single driver that was really at fault for the accident. Each driver would file a claim against his or her own insurance company. This is where § 33-9-40 comes into play, prohibiting your insurer from raising your rates for what was, essentially, an act of God.
Injuries in multi-vehicle car accidents are often more serious than those resulting from a two-vehicle accident. This means that your injuries could be severe, requiring a significant amount of medical expenses, as well as lost wages. In this instance, when you file a claim against your own insurance company, they may no longer be your ally, but will, like any insurance company, be looking to decrease the amount of money they will pay you for your injuries and other damages. Having a highly experienced Georgia car accident attorney help you through the process can make a huge difference in the amount of your settlement.
What About an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claim?
The only other time you would be likely to file a claim against your own insurance company is if the negligent driver that caused your accident is either uninsured or has insufficient insurance to fully cover your injuries and other damages. If the driver is uninsured, and you carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your own policy, then you can file your claim with your own insurance company. While your insurance rates are not “supposed” to go up when you file under uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, anecdotally, they may do just that.
Insurance companies determine your rates based on a risk assessment that considers your age, your driving record, the type of car you are insuring (how new the car is, whether it’s considered a sports car, and even the color of the car), whether you use the vehicle to commute to work, or only for occasional travel, and even where you park your car at night. A mathematical formula takes all these factors into consideration when determining your rates.
So, when you file an uninsured motorist claim—even though you didn’t cause the accident—your risk assessment may increase, causing your rates to rise as the insurance company hedges its bets. One uninsured/underinsured motorist claim would be unlikely to cause an increase in premiums, but every time you use that coverage, your risk assessment could be adversely affected.
Contact Our Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers
The Kim Law Team has helped injured car accident victims recover the money they needed to put their lives back together again. If you suffer an injury in a car accident and are facing a runaround with insurance companies, we can help. Our Atlanta car accident lawyers can help you pursue justice after an accident.
Our law firm offers FREE initial consultations and reviews, so you can get the answers you need – when you need them. Call 404-587-8946 or fill out our confidential contact form. Just call and JUST WIN.