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The most common type involves an injury to a customer or guest of a business due to a hazard resulting in a Slip and Fall, falling merchandise, or injury from poor maintenance. The average person may think that a business is always responsible if they’re hurt at a business location.
However, the law in Georgia states that the owner is only responsible for injuries to customers when it can be shown that the owner or the employees knew about the hazard, or should have known of the hazard by exercising ordinary care. This can be challenging to the injured person because they have to prove that an employee actually knew of the hazard, or that the hazard was there long enough that they should have found it to avoid unreasonable danger to the public.
For example, a person who slips on a spill but has no evidence of the source or how long it was there may not be able to recover if they cannot meet that burden of proof. The second requirement is to show that the injured person did not cause or contribute to the accident. The law says that each person must “exercise ordinary care for their own safety.” Therefore if the danger is open and obvious, and could have been easily avoided an injured person will not be able to recover for damages. These cases need to be handled by an experienced law firm. We have won numerous slip and cases throughout Georgia for our clients since 1996.
Another type of premises case involves “inadequate security”. For example if a guest at a hotel is violently attacked by another person, the hotel may be liable if they had similar prior attacks on the premises and still took no measures to provide reasonable security. Lastly, if an person owns a pet which attacks someone they can be held liable for damages if it can be shown that the pet has shown aggressive behavior towards someone before the attack in question. Most homeowners’ policies will cover this type of negligence claim.
Under Georgia Law we all must have a minimum of $25,000 per person liability coverage for injury claims. However with the rising costs of medical care even a routine injury claim can exceed that limit. Moreover, a $25K policy will typically have a total limit of only $50,000 for all combined claims, so if you cause multiple injuries it increases the chances that your insurance policy won’t pay off all of the claims.
If you cause an injury to others and don’t have enough coverage your personal assets and income may be at risk, so we recommend a minimum of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence for liability coverage. If it’s within your budget, consider an umbrella and/or excess coverage policy with $1,000,000.00 limits.
It is equally important to carry enough UM coverage, which covers Uninsured and Under-insured Motorist Claims. According to recent reports there are thousands of uninsured motorists on the roads of Georgia every day. If you or a member of your family is injured by an uninsured driver this coverage will pay for your medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering. Likewise this protects you if the at-fault driver does not have enough liability coverage. There was an important change to Georgia’s UM laws which took effect in 2009. You now must elect whether to have “stackable” or “non-stackable” UM coverage. Some companies use the term “added on UM coverage”. If you want the most protection for your family you should always choose the added on or stackable UM coverage. If you are injured due to an under-insured driver, this allows you to add the full amount of your UM policy to the liability policy of the at-fault driver.
If you do not have stackable or added on coverage you must deduct the liability coverage from your UM coverage to determine the maximum amount of coverage: For example, let’s assume you get in an accident caused by a driver with $25,000 of liability coverage, and you have a UM policy of $100,000.00. With a stackable/added on UM policy the total coverage is $125,000; without the stackable/added on coverage the total is only $100,000. Please note that if you had only $25,000 of non-stackable UM coverage in the above example, you would have no UM coverage at all because of the liability set off. We recommend that you carry at least $100,000 per person of stackable/ added on UM coverage on every vehicle. UM is one of the most affordable types of coverage you can purchase, and it can be used anytime you are injured by an uninsured (or under-insured) motorist, even if you are not in your vehicle at the time of the accident.
One word of caution: if you have to file a UM claim against your own insurer, your insurance company will hire an attorney to defend the other driver, so it is crucial to seek the advice of an attorney with experience handling these cases.
Other types of coverage which we recommend include Medical Payments Coverage which will pay medical expenses for all occupants of your vehicle regardless of who is at fault. We recommend at least $10,000 of coverage. You can also get coverage for lost income and wages to maintain your income while your claim is still pending with the liability or UM carrier. If you are concerned that you may not have enough insurance you should review your policy and call your agent immediately.
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