2020 Georgia Code
Title 9 - Civil Practice
Chapter 11 - Civil Practice Act
Article 8 - Provisional and Final Remedies and Special Proceedings
§ 9-11-67.1. Settlement Offers and Agreements for Personal Injury, Bodily Injury, and Death From Motor Vehicle; Payment Methods

Universal Citation: GA Code § 9-11-67.1 (2020)
  1. Prior to the filing of a civil action, any offer to settle a tort claim for personal injury, bodily injury, or death arising from the use of a motor vehicle and prepared by or with the assistance of an attorney on behalf of a claimant or claimants shall be in writing and contain the following material terms:
    1. The time period within which such offer must be accepted, which shall be not less than 30 days from receipt of the offer;
    2. Amount of monetary payment;
    3. The party or parties the claimant or claimants will release if such offer is accepted;
    4. The type of release, if any, the claimant or claimants will provide to each releasee; and
    5. The claims to be released.
  2. The recipients of an offer to settle made under this Code section may accept the same by providing written acceptance of the material terms outlined in subsection (a) of this Code section in their entirety.
  3. Nothing in this Code section is intended to prohibit parties from reaching a settlement agreement in a manner and under terms otherwise agreeable to the parties.
  4. Upon receipt of an offer to settle set forth in subsection (a) of this Code section, the recipients shall have the right to seek clarification regarding terms, liens, subrogation claims, standing to release claims, medical bills, medical records, and other relevant facts. An attempt to seek reasonable clarification shall not be deemed a counteroffer.
  5. An offer to settle made pursuant to this Code section shall be sent by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested, and shall specifically reference this Code section.
  6. The person or entity providing payment to satisfy the material term set forth in paragraph (2) of subsection (a) of this Code section may elect to provide payment by any one or more of the following means:
    1. Cash;
    2. Money order;
    3. Wire transfer;
    4. A cashier's check issued by a bank or other financial institution;
    5. A draft or bank check issued by an insurance company; or
    6. Electronic funds transfer or other method of electronic payment.
  7. Nothing in this Code section shall prohibit a party making an offer to settle from requiring payment within a specified period; provided, however, that such period shall be not less than ten days after the written acceptance of the offer to settle.
  8. This Code section shall apply to causes of action for personal injury, bodily injury, and death arising from the use of a motor vehicle on or after July 1, 2013.

(Code 1981, §9-11-67.1, enacted by Ga. L. 2013, p. 860, § 1/HB 336.)

Cross references.

- Cause of action for physical injury, § 51-1-13.

Separate causes of action for personal injury and property damage caused by motor vehicle, § 51-1-32.

Duty of care of operator of motor vehicle to passengers, § 51-1-36.

Law reviews.

- For article on the 2013 enactment of this Code section, see 30 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 39 (2013). For article, "An Insurer's Duty to Settle: The Law in Georgia," see 22 Ga. St. Bar J. 19 (Aug. 2016). For annual survey on insurance law, see 69 Mercer L. Rev. 117 (2017). For annual survey on trial practice and procedure, see 69 Mercer L. Rev. 321 (2017). For article, "The Peculiarities of Georgia Insurance Law," see 24 Ga. St. B.J. 18 (April 2019).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Supreme court interpretation required.

- After motorists asserted that an insurer for a negligent driver failed to fully comply with the terms of the insurer's settlement offer, such that there was no acceptance, questions to the Georgia Supreme Court were certified with respect to the proper interpretation of a new statute that regulated settlements in such circumstances as there were no published state or federal cases that interpreted the statute, which was arguably ambiguous with respect to the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1. Grange Mut. Cas. Co. v. Woodard, 826 F.3d 1289 (11th Cir. 2016).

Payment as condition of acceptance.

- Offerors can demand timely payment as a precondition to acceptance of their offer. Accordingly, because personal injury claimants expressly specified in a settlement offer that timely payment was an essential element of an insurer's acceptance, the insurer did not effectively accept the offer by mailing checks with incomplete addresses that were not received. Grange Mut. Cas. Co. v. Woodard, 861 F.3d 1224 (11th Cir. 2017).

No binding settlement agreement formed.

- Grant of the defendant's motion to enforce a settlement agreement was error because there was no unequivocal acceptance of the settlement offer that the plaintiff made to the defendant's insurer; thus, no binding settlement agreement was formed as the offer specified a particular release that was necessary for effectuating settlement, and there was no acceptance if the responding party did not accept that release. Yim v. Carr, 349 Ga. App. 892, 827 S.E.2d 685 (2019), cert. denied, No. S19C1220, 2019 Ga. LEXIS 853 (Ga. 2019).

Cited in First Acceptance Ins. Co. of Ga. v. Hughes, 305 Ga. 489, 826 S.E.2d 71 (2019).

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