How Does Accident Compensation Work In Alabama?
Experienced auto accident attorneys explain the process for obtaining financial compensation
You've been hit. Your mind is reeling with what happens next, after pictures are taken and insurance information is gathered. There's no timeline on how long this will take to be resolved, how long until you can rest knowing your financial stress and mental unease are being taken care of by the right people, and that your case is in the right hands. A car accident is devastating and the victims can be left dealing with mounting medical and repair shop bills.
Experienced attorneys at Braswell Murphy, LLC are here to help. Driven and determined to seek justice and compensation for you, attorneys Kasie Braswell and Brian Murphy know that understanding accident compensation can be complicated. Here are some of the basics you should know about the process, and some commonly asked questions answered.
Alabama is a "Fault State"
A fault state (also known as "at fault" or "tort") means, in layman's terms, that whoever is determined to be at fault is assigned responsibility for compensation. If you and an insurance company disagree on the amount of compensation that you're receiving, you may have to file a lawsuit to recoup your financial losses. In addition to placing blame, being in a fault state means that you have more than one option when you choose to seek compensation. You can:
- File a claim with your own insurance company, called a first party claim
- File a claim with the other drivers' insurance company, called a third party claim.
In addition, you are also entitled to the right to pursue a lawsuit against the other driver.
However, Alabama also observes contributory negligence. This means that if you are found to hold even a fraction of responsibility for the accident, you cannot recover. That's why it's imperative that you have a reliable Mobile, AL car accident lawyer on your side.
What to do after an accident
First, make sure you gather information at the scene. Obtain the other driver's license number, insurance information, and the contact information of everyone involved in the accident. Collect any statements made at the scene that could provide evidence of fault, such as: "I wasn't looking," or "I was changing the radio station." These are crucial-after someone admits even partial fault, the legal ball is in your court. In addition to speaking to the other driver, you'll want to make sure you do the following:
- Call the police to the scene to take your statement and collect evidence.
- Seek medical attention right away, even if you feel fine. Internal injuries can take days to show up, and you want to have a record of your treatment to bolster your case. Document everything.
- File a police report and a claim with your insurance company
- Contact us. An attorney can help you navigate the complex process of obtaining compensation, and fight on your behalf for justice.
Insurance requirements in Alabama
In the state of Alabama, you are obligated to possess car insurance. To ensure proper coverage, the state has mandatory requirements for insurance carriers. From 2011 onwards, the insurance guidelines became more rigid in an effort to increase the number of insured drivers across the state. The minimum liability insurance requirements for Alabama include being covered for:
- $25,000 for one person injured in an accident
- $50,000 for each accident in which more than one person is injured
- $25,000 for each accident that results in property damage
Being caught driving without proof of insurance results in license suspensions with reinstatement fees attached. Fines could amount to $1,000 while license and registration suspension could span for months.
Despite those laws, Alabama currently holds one of the top rankings in the country for the percentage of drivers on the road without insurance. That means the chance of being in an accident with an uninsured driver is still rather high.
Compensation via a first party claim
Certain types of optional coverage will provide compensation from your insurance company in the event of an accident. These include:
- Collision coverage: Coverage for damage to your vehicle
- Medical Payments coverage (MedPay): Coverage for your medical expenses that are a result of the crash, including any hospital visits and prescription medication, up to the policy limit.
You should file a claim as fast as possible with your insurance company in order to initiate the process of being compensated for your losses. Your insurance company may also pursue subrogation from the other drivers' insurance company. That means they'll be trying to garner reimbursement on your behalf, which can be complicated if your claim is rather costly - and this is one place where an experienced attorney can help. Insurance companies may deny claims, delay a promptly timed payment, and be generally uncooperative. This will only add to your stress, and we're here to alleviate it with our experience in tackling insurance companies with an aggressive approach to seek justice on behalf of our clients.
What if I'm struck by an underinsured or uninsured driver?
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance, commonly referred to as UIM, is an optional coverage offered, and one that you should strongly consider adding to your existing policy if you don't have it already. If you are hit by a driver who doesn't have the necessary amount of insurance to account for your damages, or has no insurance at all, this coverage allows you to get compensation from your own insurance company.
Seeking damage and personal injury compensation is much simpler when going through an insurance company. When there isn't one to pursue, you have to attempt to seize the owed assets from the driver at fault, which can be a far more complicated and drawn out process - when it's possible at all. Uninsured motorists usually don't have insurance for a reason-they can't afford it, because they have low income and no significant assets. As the saying goes, you can't get blood from a stone.
Our law firm can help you build a strong case for compensation
Filing a claim can be complicated; seeing the process out to the compensated finish can be even more frustrating. Deceit is around every corner, lurking behind the promises of insurance companies. They know how to play the game, and they know how to stall. That's why you need a legal team that won't only stand beside you, but fight for you in the process of acquiring the compensation you deserve. Attorneys Braswell and Murphy know how the insurance companies operate because they used to work for them. This gives you their full, undivided attention so they can build their case around its details and your specific needs.
If you've been in an auto accident, Braswell Murphy can help. Take the next step and contact us today for a free case evaluation.