Making sure that there is insurance coverage for your injuries caused by a car accident is an important part of your lawyer’s work in a car accident case. Georgia law has some strict rules regarding an insurer’s ability to defeat insurance coverage for your injuries after a car accident. However, there are some steps that your lawyer can take to protect insurance coverage for your injuries.
(a) No motor vehicle liability insurance policy covering a motor vehicle principally garaged or principally used in this state shall be issued, delivered or issued for delivery, or renewed in this state unless such policy contains provisions or has an endorsement thereto which specifically requires the insured to send his insurer, as soon as practicable after the receipt thereof, a copy of every summons or other process relating to the coverage under the policy and to cooperate otherwise with the insurer in connection with the defense of any action or threatened action covered under the policy.
(b) Noncompliance by the insured with this required provision or endorsement shall constitute a breach of the insurance contract which, if prejudicial to the insurer, shall relieve the insurer of its obligation to defend its insureds under the policy and of any liability to pay any judgment or other sum on behalf of its insureds.
(b.1) In the event the insurer denies coverage and it is determined by declaratory judgment or other civil process that there is in fact coverage, the insurer shall be liable to the insured for legal cost and attorney’s fees as may be awarded by the court.
(c) Subsections (a) and (b) of this Code section shall not operate to deny coverage for failure to send a copy of a summons or other process relating to policy coverage if such documents are sent by a third party to the insurer or to the insurer’s agent by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery within ten days of the filing of such documents with the clerk of the court. If the name of the insurer or the insurer’s agent is unknown, the third party shall have a period of 30 days from the date the insurer or agent becomes known in which to send these required documents. Such documents must be sent to the insurer or agent at least 30 days prior to the entry of any judgment against the insured.
O.C.G.A. § 33-7-15.
Under OCGA § 33–7–15(c), where the insurer has received notice of the pending action not from the insured but from a third person, the insurer has not made out the defense of failure of notice of a pending action. Ga. Farm &c. Ins. Co. v. Martin, 209 Ga.App. 237, 238(1), 433 S.E.2d 315 (1993), rev’d on other grounds, 264 Ga. 347, 444 S.E.2d 739 (1994); see also Mahone v. State Farm &c. Ins. Co., 188 Ga.App. 664, 667(2), 373 S.E.2d 809 (1988).
Where under OCGA § 33–7–15(c), a third party gave notice to the insurer more than 30 days prior to judgment, as in this case, summary judgment as to notice should have been denied, leaving the issue of third-party notice up to a jury. Ga. Farm &c. Ins. Co. v. Martin, supra, 209 Ga.App. at 238, 433 S.E.2d 315 (notice by third party more than 30 days prior to judgment); Chadbrooke Ins. Co. v. Fowler, 206 Ga.App. 778, 779–780, 426 S.E.2d 578 (1992) (plaintiff failed to give notice more than 30 days prior to taking a default judgment); Champion v. Southern Gen. Ins. Co., supra at 132, 401 S.E.2d 36 (no notice prior to default judgment but plaintiff offered to set aside the default judgment, creating a jury question as to prejudice).
Thomas v. Atlanta Cas. Co., 253 Ga. App. 199, 203, 558 S.E.2d 432, 438 (2001).