To have a large value Atlanta car wreck personal injury case, you almost certainly need a combination of lots of damages and plenty of insurance coverage.

While the availability of insurance coverage to pay a verdict is generally not admissible at trial in Georgia, the amounts of available insurance largely dictates what your case is worth in terms of a potential settlement.

This is because while the Plaintiff can get an “excess verdict” beyond the amount of available coverage(s), she has no guarantee the defendant will be able to actually personally pay any of that excess amount. The excess amount therefore might be virtually worthless.

The priority order of insurance coverage starts with the liability coverages (i.e., the policies for any party or parties who might be at fault, ex: at fault driver or company). Once the liability coverages have been exhausted, the plaintiff’s own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, if any, is next in line.

There could even be additional coverage beyond that. If the Plaintiff was not in her vehicle at the time of the wreck, she could utilize any uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for the vehicle she was traveling in at the time of the wreck. Additionally, if she resides with a “resident relative,” she could use that person’s uninsured/underinsured motorist policy, even though the vehicle(s) under that policy were not involved in the wreck.

The point is 99% of the time, the plaintiff’s actually recovery will only be as much as the “policy limits” of the available and applicable insurance policies. In other words, no matter how bad her injuries, if the available insurance coverage is only $25,000 in liability insurance and $25,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, the recovery is likely to be limited to $50,000.

Peter Bricks is a Woodstock personal injury and bankruptcy attorney in the metro Atlanta area, who files cases in the Magistrate Court of Cherokee County.