Unlike some states, Alabama uses a fault-based system for auto insurance claims. When someone causes a car accident in our state, their insurance company typically must pay for the victims’ losses. However, as with any injury claim, things are more complicated than they seem.
In this article, we’ll break down the basics of Alabama auto liability law and explain how you can protect yourself after a crash.
After a Car Accident, You Must File a Claim with the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company
Under Alabama law, crash victims must file a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver within two years of the crash. If you miss this deadline, you may lose your right to compensation. However, it’s not always easy to identify whose actions caused your injuries, and you may have multiple claims from a single accident.
As an example, suppose you’re driving on the interstate when suddenly, a commercial truck in the lane next to you blows a tire. Because the driver was speeding and had a couple of beers at lunch, he loses control of his vehicle and swerves into your lane, sideswiping your car. You suffer a serious back injury in the crash, and you need surgery.
Depending on the results of your lawyer’s investigation, you may have numerous injury claims from this one incident. First, you’ll have negligence claims against the driver and his employer. Second, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer or distributor of the truck’s tires if the tires contained design or manufacturing defects. Finally, if a restaurant or bar knowingly overserved the driver, you may have a “dram shop” negligence claim against that business.
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All these claims revolve around the legal concept of negligence. To establish negligence, you must prove:
- The driver or other party owed you a duty of care, such as a duty to operate their car safely according to Alabama’s traffic laws
- The at-fault party violated this duty of care and caused your injuries
- You suffered physical, emotional, or financial injuries due to the at-fault party’s conduct
To learn more about Alabama’s negligence laws and schedule your free consultation, contact Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys today.
Alabama Drivers Must Carry Liability Insurance on Their Vehicles
Beginning in 2017, Alabama drivers must maintain auto insurance on their cars and trucks. Most car owners must carry at least:
- $25,000 per person and up to $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident
- $25,000 in property damage coverage
While these are the minimum thresholds for Alabama auto insurance, we encourage drivers to purchase policies with higher limits since a severe injury can eat up the minimum coverage very quickly. Commercial vehicles, like 18-wheelers, may also have to carry higher policy limits.
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You might think you can’t afford a policy with higher limits, but if you examine these policies, the costs might surprise you. In many cases, it doesn’t cost much more to purchase a policy with higher coverage limits. Before you purchase a bare-bones auto insurance policy, ask your insurance agent to quote policies with more generous policy limits and compare prices.
What Happens if the At-Fault Driver Was Uninsured or Underinsured?
In addition to coverage for bodily injuries and property damage, insurance companies also offer optional add-ons that can protect you after a crash. You can choose to purchase other types of insurance in Alabama, including:
- Personal injury protection (PIP): Covers medical bills, lost income, and funeral expenses, regardless of who caused the accident
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM): Steps in and provides compensation when a driver does not have enough coverage to pay for all your losses
Unlike a case against an at-fault driver, you’ll file your PIP and UM/UIM claims with your own insurance company after a crash. If an at-fault driver doesn’t have enough (or any) car insurance, you can use these policies to offset your losses.
We’ve seen firsthand how a PIP or UM/UIM policy can provide vital support while victims sort out their liability claims. These insurance policies are very affordable, especially compared to paying for the costs of a serious injury out of pocket, and we encourage all drivers to consider them.
Can I Get Compensation if I Was Partially to Blame for the Crash?
Alabama applies a strict contributory negligence rule in car accident claims. If you were even 1% at fault for causing the wreck that injured you, then you lose your right to compensation under Alabama law.
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Insurance companies frequently try to use this rule to their advantage. They blame innocent drivers to undermine claims and avoid paying out fair compensation for injuries and losses. To fight these tactics, you’ll need an aggressive Alabama injury lawyer by your side who can carefully investigate the crash, identify the factors that caused it, and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Fighting for Alabama and Gulf Coast Car Accident Victims
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys is one of the most respected personal injury law firms in Alabama and the Gulf Coast. Our lawyers have earned a reputation for their willingness to stand up to insurance companies and demand justice for accident victims. We’ve recovered hundreds of millions for our clients, and we would be happy to listen to your story and discuss your legal options at no cost to you.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.