After a car accident, drivers need to do several things. Getting the other driver’s car insurance information is high on that list. But what if the other driver doesn’t have auto insurance? Dealing with an uninsured driver can be very frustrating. Luckily, there are still ways to recover your losses. Here are five things you need to know if you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver.
1. Alabama Drivers Must Carry Insurance
Like every other state, Alabama requires drivers to carry car insurance. Currently, Alabama insurance rules state that drivers must maintain auto insurance policies that cover at least:
- $25,000 for bodily injury to one person;
- $50,000 for bodily injury to more than one person; and
- $25,000 for property damage.
These coverage requirements may seem confusing, but they simply mean this: In Alabama, if a driver with the minimum coverage limits above hits another car and injures someone, the injured person can file a claim against the driver’s insurance policy for up to $25,000. Similarly, if two or more persons are hurt, they all receive up to $50,000 as a group. If there is vehicle damage or other property damage, the damaged party can file an auto insurance claim for up to $25,000.
2. …But Not Everyone Has Insurance
Alabama takes driving without insurance very seriously. State law says that for a first offense, a driver can be jailed for up to three months or fined up to $500. For additional offenses, the state can revoke a person’s license for up to six months. Despite these penalties, not every driver has insurance. Nationally, about 13 percent of drivers lack insurance. In Alabama, the number of uninsured drivers jumps to nearly 20 percent. Sadly, this means Alabama residents have a higher-than-average chance of being hit by an uninsured driver.
3. …And Not Everyone Has Enough Insurance
Even if the driver who hit you has car insurance, it might not be enough. Alabama only requires auto insurance policies to cover $25,000 for one person and $50,000 for injuries from one accident. However, in serious motor vehicle accidents, expenses can rise quickly from costs such as:
- Ambulance trips
- Hospital care (in-patient and out-patient)
- Medical tests
- Doctor’s visits (including emotional and physical therapists)
It isn’t difficult to imagine a scenario where the accident costs the injured person far more than $25,000. Lawyers call these people underinsured drivers because while they have auto insurance, it just isn’t enough to cover the injuries from the car crash.
4. There is a Way to Fight Back
It’s true that you can’t control other people – especially other drivers. But if you get hit by an uninsured driver or an underinsured driver, there is something you can do – but you’ll have to do it well before the accident.
Alabama law states that all drivers must be offered uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is crucial for anyone who has been hit by an uninsured driver. If you’re hit by someone driving without insurance – or without enough insurance -UM/UIM coverage will make up the difference.
For example, Anson and Baker get into an accident. Baker suffers $30,000 worth of damages. If Baker doesn’t have insurance, Anson can file an accident claim against his own insurance policy’s uninsured motorist coverage. The UM/UIM coverage will cover his bills. Similarly, if Anson only carries the $25,000 minimum coverage, Baker can file an auto insurance claim with his own insurer and the underinsured motorist coverage will make up the difference.
As you can see, UM/UIM insurance is very important. But while Alabama requires that everyone be offered this essential coverage, Alabama law also states that drivers can reject or “opt-out” of UM/UIM coverage. Don’t do it! Always keep your UM/UIM coverage. (And if you’ve already opted out, revise your policy immediately.) If you are ever hit by an uninsured driver, you’ll be glad to have UM/UIM coverage. It may give you the opportunity to get the financial help you need.
5. You May Need More Help
So, you get hit by an uninsured driver, you file a claim with your car insurance company to use your UM/UIM, and you’re done, right? Not exactly.
Insurance companies deny thousands of car accident claims every year. Even if the other driver was clearly at fault, your insurance company will look for a way to avoid paying the claim. Fortunately, an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney can help. Your car crash attorney can speak to the insurance company on your behalf to help the process along. Your personal injury lawyer can also help you negotiate a fair settlement.
Have You Been Hit by an Uninsured Driver?
Hopefully, this article helped you to understand a bit more about what to do if you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver. If you have more questions, please contact Collins Law, LLC. Attorney April H. Collins has been voted one of the best Birmingham personal injury attorneys. Our injury lawyers can help with motor vehicle accidents, trucking accidents, and much more. Click here or call (205) 881-0403 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.