Each state handles car accident claims differently. In Alabama, victims can pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit against the driver who caused their crash. This is known as a fault-based, or tort, system for auto insurance. This type of system does not limit your ability to build a case and hold the negligent driver legally responsible following a collision.
If you were in a crash in Alabama, you may be wondering about your options for recovering compensation. The bottom line is, you may be able to hold the other motorist responsible because Alabama is not a no-fault state for auto insurance. You could recover money damages for your medical bills, lost wages, property damages, and other losses.
Alabama Has Fault-Based Auto Insurance Laws
States usually follow one of two auto insurance systems:
- No-fault (although there are many diverse no-fault laws nationwide)
According to the Alabama Department of Insurance, Alabama follows the fault insurance system regarding car crashes and insurance claims. That means the driver who caused the collision will be responsible for the injuries and losses that others suffered. This is why Alabama requires all drivers to carry auto liability insurance, as well. It ensures victims of these accidents have a way to recover the money they need regardless of the assets of the at-fault driver.
Drivers who crash in fault states have more options when establishing how to file a claim for damages or seek compensation after a crash than those in no-fault states, who may have to rely on their own insurance coverage to pay for many types of injuries and losses. The three choices a victim has after a crash in a fault state generally include:
- Filing a claim with your insurer if you have this coverage available
- Filing a claim based on the at-fault driver’s insurance company
- Filing a personal injury suit against the negligent party
How you choose to proceed depends on several factors. You may want to discuss your options with a personal injury lawyer who can offer insightful advice. They can also handle your claim, prepare your lawsuit, or deal with the next steps if the at-fault driver is uninsured.
For a free legal consultation, call 800-537-8185
How do I Recover Compensation after a Car Accident in Alabama?
Because Alabama law allows accident victims to hold the at-fault driver financially responsible for their injuries and expenses, they must take action to recover monetary damages from that driver. Usually, drivers have at least the state’s required liability insurance coverage, which should cover their losses and costs.
This is the most common way victims recover compensation from an at-fault driver. They – or their attorney – gather evidence, develop support for their claim, and demand a just payout from that driver’s insurance company. This leads to settlement negotiations, where they eventually reach an agreement.
Occasionally, a lawsuit is necessary. This does not mean the case will go to trial. However, it could encourage the insurer to make a better offer to avoid going before a judge and jury. Of course, a trial may be necessary based on the circumstances. If this happens in your case, your lawyer will represent you and fight for your best interests through this process.
Uninsured or Underinsured Drivers in Alabama
According to Ala. Traffic Code § 32-7-23, Alabama drivers do not have to have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This is the insurance commonly used in no-fault states. In fact, it is not even available. Instead, Alabama is a tort state, where the at-fault driver must cover the victims’ expenses and losses.
However, this can cause a problem when the negligent motorist does not have the required auto liability coverage to pay for the victims’ medical care, lost wages, and other damages. There are a few options left when this occurs:
- File a claim based on your uninsured motorist coverage
- Sue the at-fault driver and try to recover your damages from their assets
- File claims based on your collision coverage for car repairs and medical payment (MedPay) policy to cover these damages, if you have this coverage
- Use your health insurance coverage for medical bills and pay other damages out of pocket
As you can see, some of these options are better than others. An uninsured motorist claim is generally the most effective way to recover the compensation you need to pay for your bills, repair your car, and cover your lost income. Suing the liable party may seem like the best way to get justice, but it may not be helpful unless you are certain they have the assets to cover your losses.
Alabama law does not specify that drivers must carry uninsured motorist insurance. However, it can offer peace of mind under these circumstances. If you have this form of insurance and an uninsured or underinsured driver causes an accident, you may be able to recover the damages you incurred. This is the best way to get the money you need based on the facts of your case.
Many drivers in Alabama do have this coverage and are not aware of it. State law requires you to opt out of uninsured motorist coverage when you purchase your liability policy. Otherwise, you pay the extra cost and receive this extra coverage. Your attorney can look at your policy during your free consultation and determine if you have this type of policy.
How Will an Attorney Help With My Alabama Car Accident Case?
If you sustained serious injuries in a collision in Alabama, a personal injury lawyer could help you seek justice. They will assess your case to determine if you can file a claim or sue the other driver. They will also manage all aspects of your case, including:
- Investigating what happened
- Identifying the liable party or parties
- Documenting damages and valuing the case
- Sending a demand letter to the insurer
- Protecting your rights
- Negotiating with the insurance company for a fair settlement
- Preparing an agreement and finalizing the settlement
- Filing a lawsuit and representing your best interests, if necessary
Having an Alabama car accident lawyer on your side can make it easier to navigate the claims process, especially if you are still undergoing treatment or have serious injuries. You do not have to handle all of this by yourself.
Alabama’s fault-based auto insurance laws do make it somewhat more complicated to pursue damages in your case even when injuries are relatively minor. In a no-fault state, you would submit your bills to your own insurer, and they would pay you for your covered out-of-pocket costs.
In Alabama, you must convince the insurance company that their policyholder caused the crash through their own careless or reckless behavior. This requires evidence and a strong argument to show what happened and the injuries and damages it caused. Then, you will have to convince them of the value of your case to get a fair settlement. Your attorney will handle this while you heal.
Speak with an Attorneyfrom Our Office for Free Today
The Morris Bart law firm provides complimentary consultations for Alabama traffic accident victims. We have locations in Huntsville, Montgomery, Birmingham, and Mobile. Our team knows how the Alabama tort laws work and how to navigate the process required to recover damages.
One of our lawyers can speak with you for free, helping you better understand the applicable laws and the strength of your case. We will answer any questions you have about Alabama being a no-fault state for auto insurance. Call today to get started.
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