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Major Changes to Insurance Laws Could Affect Personal Injury Cases in Georgia

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Georgia lawmakers recently approved a new bill that could have a significant impact on personal injury cases going forward. Specifically, Senate Bill 83, which was signed into law at the end of April, overhauled Georgia law regarding pre-suit time limit demands in auto accident cases. As a result, it could become a lot harder for claimants to hold insurers liable for a negligent failure to settle a case, in turn making it more difficult to hold insurers accountable for bad faith practices.

Failure to Settle 

Under Georgia law, insurers are required to operate in good faith when it comes to their policyholders. This includes investigating claims in a timely manner, communicating with policyholders throughout the claims process, and making reasonable efforts to settle. This means that insurers who engage in negligence and who fail to settle a claim as a result can be held liable for engaging in bad faith insurance practices.

The new law was passed out of concern that many claimants were sending in time limit settlement demands that had an excessive number of conditions and requirements. Proponents of the bill argued that these offers were merely attempts to get the insurer to accept an offer in hopes that it would later mishandle those conditions, resulting in an ultimate rejection of the offer itself. Claimants could then file a lawsuit against the insurer, arguing that it failed to fulfill the terms of the agreement or rejected the offer outright, thereby failing to make a good faith effort to settle the claim.

Three Major Changes 

In an effort to address these concerns, Georgia lawmakers made three major changes to the prior law regarding pre-suit time limit demands, including:

  • Creating a safe harbor from failure to settle litigation for insurers who accept TLDs;
  • Enumerating seven terms that must be included in all TLDs (i.e. date by which offers must be accepted, amount of monetary payment, the identities of the parties released if the offer is accepted, a date by which payment must be delivered etc.); and
  • Determining that all TLDs are to be considered bilateral, rather than unilateral contracts, meaning that a binding contract is formed at the moment of acceptance, so that an insurer’s failure to fulfill a condition of that agreement would result in a breach of contract rather than a rejection of the offer.

Unfortunately, these changes could make it much  more difficult for honest claimants to hold insurers liable for failing to settle valid claims. The full limits of the bill still, however, remain to be seen.

Here to Help You Pursue Your Rightful Compensation After an Accident 

If you have questions about the recently enacted Senate Bill 83 and how it could affect your own insurance claim, you are not alone. The dedicated Savannah car accident attorneys at Shiver Hamilton Campbell can walk you through the specifics of this new law and how it could impact personal injury cases going forward. Set up an initial consultation by calling our office at 404-593-0020 or by completing one of our online contact forms today.

Sources: 

legis.ga.gov/legislation/63960 

insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2024/04/03/767658.htm

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