The world of insurance in the state of Alabama can be confusing – especially if you’ve been in a car accident.
While none of us expect to be involved in a wreck, it’s still important to know about insurance and liability laws in our state just in case something happens.
Here, I’ll outline a few important concepts you’ll need to know about insurance in Alabama, including protecting yourself against uninsured motorists.
Alabama: No Fault or Fault?
One question I hear often is, “Is Alabama a ‘fault’ or ‘no-fault’ state when it comes to insurance coverage?”
Contrary to other states across the country, Alabama is a “fault” state when it comes to car accidents and insurance coverage. This means that the fault (or legal responsibility) of the drivers involved in the crash will affect how compensation is paid to those who are injured – or whose property is damaged – as a result of the accident.
It also means that Alabama drivers have multiple options when it comes to proceeding with a claim for compensation after an accident. These options include:
- Filing a claim with one’s own insurance company, according to the terms of the policy
- Filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance (sometimes called a “third party claim”)
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver
As a car accident lawyer in Alabama, I’ve handled cases involving all three of the above options. Many cases resolve without having to involve the courts, but you always want to have other legal remedies available in case you are injured in an accident.
What Are Liability Requirements in Alabama?
To fulfill Alabama car insurance laws, you must have liability insurance to help pay for any damages or injuries you may cause to others in a car accident.
Your liability insurance will not cover damages to your car or your personal injuries. However, most Alabama car insurance companies offer optional coverage to help with these costs. When shopping for car insurance, consider these optional types of coverage: bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist (grouped with uninsured motorist coverage), medical payments, collision, and comprehensive.
The Alabama Legislature passed a law that requires everyone who drives a car in Alabama to have a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 total insurance for personal injuries caused by negligent driving. The law also requires that people maintain $25,000 in property damage coverage.
Protecting Yourself From Uninsured Motorists
What if you are involved in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance? How can you protect yourself?
The main option is to purchase uninsured coverage. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is optional in Alabama, even though a lot of people think it is mandatory. It kicks in when the driver at fault in the accident has no insurance or not enough insurance to cover your losses.
You should check with your insurance agent on how much underinsured motorist coverage you need based on how much risk you are willing to take that other drivers in Alabama will have sufficient coverage.
After an Accident: What to Do
My colleague Sarah Jewell wrote an insightful piece on what you should do after you are involved in a car accident. You can read that blog post here. What if you’re injured, though? What is the next step you should take?
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident, you need to protect your rights and seek legal help by talking to a car accident lawyer in Alabama. That is the only way to ensure you are receiving the right guidance and legal assistance, especially if you have a case that could possibly go to court.
At Hare Wynn Newell & Newton, we will answer your questions, walk you step by step through the process, and ensure you have the guidance you need to make informed decisions – and, if necessary, seek the compensation you deserve.