Recently, Governor Nathan Deal enacted a new statute regarding how settlements in car accident cases will be handled in Georgia. The new statute imposes restrictions on the way in which your attorney may settle your auto accident claim.
Before addressing what those restrictions are, it is important to realize that the statute will only affect car accidents which occur on or after July 1, 2013. Therefore, any car accidents which occurred before that date will not be subject to the restrictions imposed by O.C.G.A. §9-11-67.1.
The meat of settlement demands subject to O.C.G.A. §9-11-67.1 is as follows:
Prior to filing a lawsuit to settle a claim for personal injury or wrongful death resulting from the use of a motor vehicle, the settlement demand must meet the following criteria:
- All settlement demands must be in writing;
- An insurance adjuster must have at least 30 days from receipt of the demand to make an offer;
- The settlement demand must clearly identify everyone who will be released from liability once the claim is settled;
- The settlement demand must clearly state the type of release (i.e., limited liability, full, etc.) being offered to settle the claim;
- The settlement demand must state which claims are being released. In other words, will the bodily injury AND property damage be released, or will only one or the other be released;
- The insurance adjuster may accept the offer to settle by providing that acceptance in writing;
- An adjuster has a right to ask for clarification regarding the terms of settlement, how liens will be handled, medical bills, medical records, who has the right to release claims, and any other relevant fact without it being a rejection and counteroffer;
- Settlement demands must be sent by certified mail;
- An insurance company can pay by cash, money order, wire transfer, cashier’s check, draft or bank check, or electronic funds transfer;
- A claimant can ask for payment within a certain time as long as it is not less than 10 days after written acceptance of the offer to settle.
These 10 criteria may make O.C.G.A. §9-11-67.1 seem more frightening than it really is. Although O.C.G.A. §9-11-67.1 is more restrictive, it is not meant to prevent claimants and insurance companies from settling claims and you can rest assured that claims will continue to settle.
A few more hoops to jump through, some more narrow than the hoops before them. But, KAINE LAW, LLC, will not be deterred from continuing to fight the good fight for the injured!