A new law set to go into effect on July 1, 2013, has a direct impact on
personal injury claims here in Georgia. The Georgia General Assembly enacted
O.C.G.A. section 9-11-67.1 after heavy lobbying by the insurance industry
to codify and modify existing Georgia Law in regards to settlement offers
on auto accident claims. This new statute applies to personal injury and
wrongful death claims resulting from the use of a motor vehicle on or after July 1, 2013.
The statute sets forth the requirements that must be met in order for a
claimant to make an offer of settlement before any evidence of "bad
faith" on the part of insurance company will be triggered.
For the full text of this new law, please click here.
Any offer to settle a claim for a car wreck that occurs after July 1, 2013,
should meet the following requirements as outlined by the statute:
- The claimant must give the insurance carrier at least 30 days from receipt
of the letter to accept the offer;
- The letter must specify the settlement amount, the party or parties that
will be released, as well as the claims that will be released if the offer
- The type of Release that the claimant will sign;
- The offer must be sent certified mail or statutory overnight delivery with
a return receipt requested;
- The letter must specifically reference the code section; and
- If the other party accepts the offer to settle then the claimant cannot
set a time period for payment sooner than 10days after written acceptance
of the offer.
The above requirements are not a drastic change from the current state
of the law here in Georgia, but the statute specifically provides a safe
harbor provision in that the insurance carrier or "the recipients"
of the offer may seek clarification regarding many aspects of the claim
including medical bills, records, "other relevant facts," liens,
personal injury law firm in Atlanta, we are concerned that insurance carriers will use
this aspect of the statute to delay payment of claims where liability
and injuries are completely clear. Only time will tell if this will hold
true as challenges to and clarifications of this law will weave its way
through Georgia's courts. As your Atlanta Injury Lawyer we will continue
to stay abreast of this changing situation.