It is common for victims in automobile accidents to reach out-of-court settlements with negligent drivers or their insurance carriers. But victims should always be mindful of Georgia law governing such settlements. If you make a “final” demand to an insurer for money, and the insurer accepts and agrees to pay the specified amount, that is enough to create an enforceable legal contract even if the insurer subsequently seeks to negotiate additional terms. That is to say, even if you believe no “final” settlement agreement exists between you and an insurer, the courts may see it differently, as a recent Georgia Court of Appeals decision illustrates.
Tillman v. Mejabi
The victim in this case suffered serious injuries in a 2011 automobile accident. There was no disputing the other driver was at fault. The victim’s attorney therefore sent a demand letter to the other driver’s insurance company, seeking to recover the maximum benefit available under the driver’s policy, which was $25,000. (The plaintiff’s actual damages were significantly higher, about $70,000.) The attorney’s letter said payment of the $25,000 would constitute “full and final settlement of this matter.”