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Car insurance is designed to help accident victims obtain compensation for their injuries after a Georgia car accident. In practice, car insurance companies will look for any excuse to deny insurance claims. Insurance companies are operated on a for-profit basis, and the viability of the company relies on it taking in more money in premiums than it pays out in claims. Thus, insurance adjusters are often in the position of reviewing claims with an eye toward denying them or settling them for as little money as possible.
If an insurance company denies a motorist’s claim, the motorist has the option of filing a Georgia personal injury lawsuit against the insurance company, seeking a court order that the company honor the contractual obligations in the insurance contract. However, insurance companies are experienced at defending against these claims, and they have teams of attorneys to assist them in litigation. Thus, an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney is an invaluable asset for victims.
A recent case illustrates the efforts of one insurance company to avoid paying out on a motorist’s claim.
The plaintiff was insured by the defendant insurance company. On occasion, the plaintiff would provide transportation for an elderly woman for compensation. On the day of the accident, the plaintiff was driving when he saw the elderly woman walking along the side of the road. The plaintiff pulled over and asked her if she wanted a ride into town. The two did not discuss payment, but the woman later explained that she did intend on paying the plaintiff for the ride. As the plaintiff drove the woman into town, another motorist opened his car door into the plaintiff’s car. The noise from the minor collision caused the plaintiff to jerk his neck around to see what had occurred. The plaintiff was injured as a result and filed a claim with his insurance company, seeking compensation for his injuries. The insurance company denied his claim, arguing that the accident was not covered under the plaintiff’s policy.
The insurance company claimed that by giving the woman a ride for money, the plaintiff was operating his car for hire and pursuant to the insurance contract, coverage did not apply to a vehicle when it was being operated as a “public or livery conveyance,” which essentially means for hire.
The court acknowledged that the woman usually paid the plaintiff for a ride and that she intended to pay him this time as well. However, the court also noted that the burden is on the insurance company to prove the facts establishing that an accident falls within an exception to coverage. Here, the court held, the insurance company was unable to prove that the plaintiff made his car available to the general public. The court held that, giving the benefit of the doubt to the plaintiff, which is required in a defense motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff had only agreed to provide transportation services for the elderly woman, instead of the general public. That being the case, the court held that the exception to coverage did not apply.
The key holding of the case is, just because he charged her for gas every now and again does not mean he is a for-hire public driver.
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Atlanta car accident, and you are currently dealing with a difficult or dishonest insurance company, Attorney Christopher Simon can help. Christopher Simon has extensive experience representing Georgia victims and their families in a wide range of personal injury and wrongful death cases, including those involving difficult insurance companies. Attorney Simon is not afraid to take on even the biggest insurance companies, and he will not hesitate to take your case to trial if a fair settlement offer is not made. Call (404) 259-7635 to schedule a free consultation today.