The statute of limitations is by far the most important deadline to know and keep in mind in the pursuit of your claims arising out of a car accident in Atlanta or elsewhere in Georgia. This is so because the statute of limitations is the last day on which you have to file a lawsuit against the party that caused the accident before you forever lose your right to pursue your claim.
Keep in mind this is not the same thing as calling your insurance company or the at-fault parties insurance company to notify them of the accident and your claim. This is actually filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party for compensation for your losses.
The first claim is for property damage suffered to your vehicle.
The statute of limitations to pursue damage to your vehicle is four (4) years in Georgia.
The second claim you have against the at-fault party is for your injuries. The statute of limitations to pursue your personal injury claim is generally two (2) years in the Georgia.
We say “generally” because there are a few exceptions to the standard two year statute of limitations that typically do not apply in most car accident cases. For example, in Georgia, if you were injured in an accept while under the age of majority, then the two year statute of limitations does not begin to run until after you reach the age of majority. Thus, allowing you many more years to pursue your claim in this situation.
In conclusion, you must be mindful of the statute of limitations applicable to your car accident claims. Procrastination on either claim could result in the inability to recover anything for your losses. As always, whether it is a lawyer at our firm or another lawyer of your choosing, it is recommended that you speak to an experienced car accident lawyer in Georgia to learn more about your rights after a car accident.
With the self-funded v. insured question looming large, the next question is where to look and what to look for to answer this all important question. There are several places. The first is the SPD (Summary Plan Description). You will need to request this from the third party administrator handling the claim and/or directly from the Plan Administrator.
However, I have found that looking up the Form 5500 online is the fastest way to get an idea of how the Plan is funded. The Form 5500 is a federal filing that must be filed annually by each employer maintaining an ERISA plan. The fastest way to find this form is to register with www.freeerisa.com and search by employer name. It is free.
Once you pull up the latest Form 5500 for the Plan, look at page 1, elements 9a (“plan funding arrangement”) and 9b (plan benefit arrangement”). Each of these elements lists the following options:
(2) Section 412(e)(3);
(4) General assets of the sponsor.
If boxes (3) and/or (4) are marked on both then the inquiry stops here because trusts and general assets of the sponsor exclude all policies of insurance and therefore are clearly fully self-funded Plans. If one or more of the other two boxes are checked then the inquiry continues by turning to the schedules attached to Form 5500.
What you are looking for is Schedules A or C. These schedules further detail the relationship between the payor of benefits and the Plan. Confusion often lies in looking at the Form 5500 because large companies will have several benefits plans reported on the form and often times there will be multiple Schedule As and Cs attached to the Form 5500 (i.e. one for a dental plan; one for a vision plan; one for a life insurance plan etc.). This leads to multiple funding arrangements being selected that describes the multiple plans.
So first you want to find the schedules that identify the health plan. Look first for a Schedule A form for the health plan. If you do not have a Schedule A for the health plan skip to the Schedule C discussed below. If you have a Schedule A, here is what to look for on the schedule: First, you should have a named insurance company under Part 1(a). Next look at Part III(8). There are multiple boxes that can be checked. Box (8)(a) “Health” should be marked (again, tells you this is the health plan). If any other box in section (8) is marked other than (i) “Stop Loss,” you are in luck and the plan is insured and state law applies. If the Stop Loss box is checked, see below regarding stop loss issues.
If the benefit provider you are looking for is not on a Schedule A, it likely is on a Schedule C. On Schedule C, you will see reference to “claims processing,” “contract administrator,” and “plan administrator.” An insurer providing insurance would not be listed on a Schedule C and therefore is indicative of a fully self-funded Plan.
To learn more about various aspects of a car accident claim or case in Georgia and the law surrounding car accident injury claims, feel free to read any of our additional car accident articles or blog posts on various accident related topics or call one of our Atlanta lawyers today.