The short answer is, “Yes, you may be able to sue the trucking insurance company directly because Georgia’s direct action statute allows victims to file a lawsuit against the insurer following truck accidents.”
However, each case is unique, which is why it is highly advised to consult with an experienced truck accident attorney at Hoffspiegel Law to determine liability in your particular situation.
How can you sue a trucking insurance company in Georgia?
In 1991, the Court of Appeals of Georgia ruled that, in general, a party may not file a lawsuit against the insurance company of the party that allegedly caused the injury or damages “because there is no privity of contract.”
The only exceptions are when a statute or a provision in the insurance policy specifically permits to bring a direct action against the insurer and when there is an unsatisfied judgment against the company. Bacon v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, 198 Ga. App. 436, 401 S.E.2d 625 (Ga. Ct. App. 1991).
The State of Georgia also has a statutory exception to the above-mentioned rule. The exception is known as the direct action statute, which is codified in statutes O.C.G.A. § 40-2-140 and O.C.G.A. § 40-1- 112.
The direct action statute allows injured plaintiffs to name the insurance company of a motor carrier or trucking company as a defendant in a lawsuit. However, since Georgia’s direct action statute is an exception to the general law prohibiting direct actions against insurance companies, it must be strictly construed. Glenn McClendon & C. Co. v. Williams, 183 Ga. App. 508 359 S.E.2d 351 (1987).
For this reason, it is best to seek legal counsel from a skilled truck accident attorney in Georgia to help you use the direct action statute to sue the trucking insurance company directly and maximize your financial compensation.
How does Georgia’s direct action statute work?
Let’s imagine the following scenario to help you understand how Georgia’s direct action statute works:
You are driving your car behind a large commercial truck while maintaining a safe distance. The truck driver slams on the brakes, and you end up crashing into the back of the truck because you could not have reasonably avoided a collision. You suffer serious injuries in the crash.
The truck driver is found 100% at fault for the accident. Because Georgia has a direct action statute, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault trucker, their trucking company, and the insurance company.
Contact an Atlanta truck accident attorney to discuss your case
Georgia’s direct action statute is codified in O.C.G.A. § 40-2-140 and § 40-1-112. The first statute states that any person who has “a cause of action” may join in the same cause of action the defendant (the motor carrier) and their insurance company.
The second statute allows any person who has a cause of action to bring a lawsuit directly against the motor carrier and their insurer. It means that you can pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault truck driver, their trucking company, as well as the insurer listed on the trucking company’s registration.
As a rule of thumb, a jury will be more likely to award more compensation to the injured plaintiff when a trucking insurance company is named as a defendant in a truck accident case.
If you or your loved one has been hurt in a truck accident in Atlanta or other parts of Georgia, it is critical to understand all of your legal options. Attorneys Lloyd and Alex Hoffspiegel will protect your rights and help you pursue a lawsuit against all liable parties in your truck accident case. Contact Hoffspiegel Law to discuss your case. Call (404) 760-8600for a case evaluation.