In 2019, there was a car accident reported every three minutes and 18 seconds in Alabama. While the accident itself may be over quickly, the consequences of it can last a lifetime.
From lost wages and medical bills to dealing with debilitating injuries, the cost and impact of a car accident are far-reaching. Because of the high costs of many accidents, it is almost impossible for victims to rebuild their lives.
Therefore, it is so important to seek compensation. Keep reading to learn more about how to recover compensation after car wrecks and what you need to do to ensure you can begin rebuilding your life.
Like many other states, Alabama is an “at-fault” or “fault” state for car accident claims. This means the person found at fault for the accident is required to compensate those injured. Injured parties qualified for compensation include the driver of the vehicle, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, or motorcyclists.
There are three main ways to receive financial compensation after being involved in a car accident. These methods include:
Keep reading to learn more about each of these options. You can also hire a car accident lawyer to help you figure out what option is best for your situation.
According to Alabama law, you must only carry liability insurance for your vehicle. However, liability insurance will not provide compensation for injuries.
Instead, it compensates other people for property damage or injuries they sustain during an accident you have caused. It also provides you with protection from direct financial liability for the losses they incur.
While this is true, some coverage options will provide direct compensation to you when you are involved in an accident. If you have purchased either or both insurance options, it is possible to file something called a “first-party” claim with your insurance company. This is true, no matter who was at fault for the accident.
This type of coverage pays for damages that your vehicle sustained during the accident. You may have to pay a deductible based on your policy or the circumstances surrounding the accident.
This coverage pays for medical-related costs. This includes prescription medication and hospital bills that result from injuries you sustain after an accident.
If you have either of these insurance types, you can access the benefits, no matter who is at fault. While this is true, if someone else is determined to be at fault for the accident, your insurance provider may request that driver’s insurance company pay compensation. This is a process that is called subrogation.
Unfortunately, this process is somewhat complicated and may reduce the total amount of compensation you receive. Having an attorney to help in this situation is highly recommended.
The first-party benefits mentioned above may offer you immediate help after an accident. However, if you want to receive full compensation for all related accident costs, you have to file a claim against the person or entity at fault.
Usually, this means you must file a claim with that person’s insurance company. In some cases, you must file a lawsuit in civil court.
For the state of Alabama, you have a total of two years from the date the accident occurred to file this lawsuit. This is referred to as the statute of limitations.
Even though you still can file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company once this period of time has passed, it is much more difficult to recover the compensation you deserve if you cannot file a lawsuit.
It is important to note that Alabama still follows the rules of “contributory negligence.” It is one of just five states that still do this.
Contributory negligence means that if someone is partially responsible for the accident, they cannot recover financial compensation or damages for any damages or injuries. Put simply, even if you are just one percent at fault for the car wreck, you are not legally allowed to recover compensation.
This is why it is important to hire an attorney before you say anything to your insurance company or the other party’s insurance company. An attorney will be able to talk to the insurance adjusters for you and ensure that they do not receive information that may allow them to use the contributory negligence claim to avoid paying compensation.
While it is a crime to drive without insurance in Alabama, it is a crime that is committed all the time. This means there is a chance that you will be involved in a car wreck with someone who is uninsured.
Also, even if the at-fault driver has liability insurance, they may not have sufficient coverage to provide full compensation for the damages and injuries you suffered.
While the at-fault driver will still be liable for the accident even if they do not have insurance, recovering compensation in these situations is extremely challenging. You must file a lawsuit to attempt to recover the person’s assets.
This is a legally challenging and time-consuming process. Also, if a driver is uninsured, they typically don’t have many assets or much income. There is no way to recover money that does not exist.
To combat this, you should purchase underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage through your insurance company. This ensures you can receive compensation if the at-fault driver cannot cover the compensation.
Any type or severity of car wrecks can be frustrating and scary. However, if you were not at-fault for the accident, you have the right to recover compensation. It is a good idea to hire an attorney to help you with this process.
If you found the information here helpful and are searching for other information about legal issues, check out some of our other blogs.