Automobile accidents on Atlanta highways, roadways and interstates are a part of everyday life, especially in a city of over seven million people. Often times when two drivers are involved in a car accident they live in the same geographic area. This obviously makes it less complicated when obtaining information about the “at fault” party or attempting to serve them with a lawsuit. However, it is not always the case that the “at fault” driver lives in the state of Georgia. When this set of facts presents itself the Georgia Long Arm Statute and the Georgia Nonresident Motorist Act apply.
The Georgia Long Arm Statute or O.C.G.A. § 9-10-91 provides the legal mechanism to hold out-of-state drivers accountable. O.C.G.A. § 9-10-91 states that Georgia courts may exercise personal jurisdiction over any nonresident as to a cause of action arising from the commission of a tortious act or omission within the state of Georgia. The Georgia Nonresident Motorist Act or O.C.G.A §40-12-3 determines the actual county where the lawsuit will be filed. That statute states that all actions related to the use of the highways of this state by nonresident motorists shall be brought in the county in which the accident or injury occurred or in the county of the plaintiff if the plaintiff is a resident of the state of Georgia. If the plaintiff is a resident of a different state, then the action would be brought in the county in which the accident occurred. All states have a nonresident motorist act which is applied in a similar manner. Ultimately, a person submits themselves to this jurisdiction and may be sued in Georgia simply by driving on its roadways.
Although states have similar laws related to nonresident motorist their rules related insurance coverage may differ. Georgia’s minimum insurance requirement for resident drivers is $25,000 bodily injury/ $50,000 per accident and $25,000 for property damage. Regardless, the at fault party’s insurance carrier will abide by the insurance requirements for the state where the accident occurred. In the event of an underinsured out-state-driver, the injured party’s UM coverage would be available to offset any shortage.
The procedure for serving the lawsuit on an “at fault” nonresident motorist is different than serving a Georgia resident. However, the law suit itself is same as any other automobile accident in Georgia. Essentially, time is of the essence. Once you are involved in an accident the first step is to document your bodily injuries and vehicle damage with photographs. Additionally, it is critical that you seek the advice of an experience personal injury attorney. Your attorney will ensure that all notices are prepared and evidence is preserved for your case. The Faucette Law Firm, LLC has been representing clients in the Atlanta area for over 10 years. We specialize in litigation and most importantly, the client experience. Contact our law firm today for a consultation.