Car accident victims in Birmingham who were injured as a result of another driver’s negligence have a right to assume that the other party’s insurance company will pay for their losses. Unfortunately, recovering compensation from the at-fault driver or his insurer is not always a simple process.
Although a minimum amount of liability insurance is a legal requirement in Alabama, people are getting behind the wheel without being properly insured. In fact, our state has one of the highest percentages of uninsured drivers in the nation. According to the Insurance Information Institute (iii), 19.5 percent of drivers in Alabama have no liability insurance.
If you or someone you loved has been injured in a car accident caused by an uninsured motorist, we want to help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a Birmingham car accident lawyer. Call us 24/7 at (800) 477-7510, fill out the online evaluation form, or start a live chat with a representative to get started.
What is a Birmingham, AL Uninsured Motorist Accident?
In order to register and drive a vehicle in Alabama, a motorist is legally required to meet the following minimum insurance requirements:
- Bodily injury liability – $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident
- Property damage liability – $25,000 per accident
Unfortunately, many let their insurance policies lapse. An uninsured motorist accident occurs when a driver without liability insurance causes a motor vehicle accident. Instead of being able to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer, the innocent driver is left to find other means of compensation.
Penalties If Caught Driving in Alabama Without Insurance
Driving without car insurance is illegal and not taken lightly in Alabama. It is considered a misdemeanor and comes with a penalty of up to $1,000 for your first offense. As an uninsured driver, you could also have your driver’s license and vehicle registration suspended for 180 days and even serve up to three months in jail.
In order to have your registration reinstated, you will have to pay a $200 fee. You will also need to obtain an SR-22 form from your insurance company, which guarantees that you have the minimum required insurance. After being caught without insurance and having to request an SR-22, it is likely that your insurance premiums will go up.
The penalties for driving without insurance continue to increase with subsequent offenses. If you are a repeat offender, you could face fines up to $3000, the loss of your license and vehicle registration for 6 months or more, jail time, and the impoundment of your vehicle.
Steps to Take Following a Birmingham, AL Car Accident With an Uninsured Driver
The decisions that you make in the first moments following a car accident can have an impact down the line.
Take care and follow these steps after being involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver:
- Stay at the accident scene: It is illegal in Alabama to leave an accident scene without filing a police report if someone was injured or killed. If the at-fault driver flees the scene, take note of or take a picture to capture the make, model, and license plate number of the vehicle.
- Seek medical attention: It is important that you receive medical attention after a serious accident, even if you initially feel fine. Some injuries, such as concussions, may not present symptoms immediately. Medical records of your condition soon after the collision can serve as helpful evidence as you navigate the claims process.
- Report the accident: Call law enforcement and report the accident, even if the other driver has fled the scene. An uninsured motorist who stayed at the accident scene will probably be issued a ticket. The responding police officer will fill out an accident report, which can be beneficial if you file a claim or lawsuit.
- Record evidence: Write down the names and contact info of all eyewitnesses to the accident. Take a video or photos of anything that might be relevant to the case, such as property damage, skid marks, road conditions, and other vehicles involved.
- Contact your insurance company: Even if the other driver does not have insurance, you should contact your insurer as soon as possible after the accident. You can either call your insurance company or report the accident using a mobile app.
- Consult with a Birmingham car accident lawyer: Most personal injury law firms offer free case consultations. During your session, a car accident lawyer can offer legal advice and help you explore all of your options for compensation following an accident with an uninsured driver.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage and What is the Benefit of Having It?
In Alabama, insurance companies are required to include underinsured and uninsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage in all driving policies. However, policyholders have the right to refuse UM/UIM. If you reject this coverage, your insurer will have you sign a form confirming that you are choosing not to have underinsured and uninsured insurance added to your policy.
Underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you were hit by a driver who was either not carrying coverage or not carrying the minimum insurance requirements, respectively. Instead of filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance carrier, then, your own insurer can step in and cover the costs of your losses up to your UIM/UM policy limits.
Filing a Lawsuit Against an Uninsured Birmingham, AL Motorist
You may be considering filing a lawsuit if an uninsured driver caused your car accident and you do not have UM/UIM coverage, or if your losses exceed your policy limits. Whether or not it is worth it to sue the uninsured driver depends on whether the driver can afford to pay for your damages.
If the person who caused your accident has money and assets but simply made the choice to drive without insurance, it may be worth the time and expense to file a lawsuit. However, the most common reason why people drive without car insurance is that they cannot afford to pay the premiums. In this situation, it may not make sense to sue, because a lawsuit cannot take money from someone who does not have it.
If you decide to file a lawsuit against the uninsured driver, keep in mind that there is a 2-year statute of limitations, as with all other Birmingham, AL, car accidents. This means that you have only 2 years from the date of the accident to sue the uninsured driver. Waiting too long to file could result in losing your legal right to compensation.
When a Third-Party May Be Liable
Car accidents in Birmingham, AL, happen for many reasons. In some situations, a third party may be fully or partially liable for the cause of the collision. Thus, you must make sure that your accident is thoroughly investigated.
At Norris Injury Lawyers, we will work to uncover all possible causes of your accident. After our legal team understands why a collision occurred, we can use that information to establish fault. If someone other than the uninsured driver is liable, we will help you file a claim or lawsuit against all negligent parties.
Liable third parties may include:
- Parts manufacturer: If a defective car part caused the accident, a lawyer may be able to help you hold the part’s designer, manufacturer, or distributor liable.
- Another driver: In the case of a multi-vehicle collision, you may be able to recover damages from the other drivers involved in the accident.
- Bar or restaurant: Alabama’s dram shop laws allow car accident victims to pursue compensation from bars or restaurants that served alcohol to someone underage or to a person who was visibly intoxicated.
- Government entity: The local government could be held responsible for the failure to fix or warn the public about an unreasonably hazardous road condition that contributed to the accident.
- Employer: If the driver who hit you was on the job at the time of the accident, such as a businessman on the road between meetings or a delivery driver, the employer’s insurance may cover your damages.
Contact a Birmingham, AL Car Accident Attorney
If an uninsured driver hit you, do not give up on your hope of recovering damages. A Birmingham, AL, personal injury lawyer can help you explore all of your options for compensation. We can investigate your case, inform you of your rights, handle all communications with the insurance company, and help you develop a plan of action.
At Norris Injury Lawyers, we understand that, after being hit by an uninsured driver, you may already be concerned about your financial situation and do not want the added stress of legal fees. For this reason, we offer all of our clients our No Fee Guarantee®. This is our promise that you don’t owe us anything if we don’t win your case.
Norris Injury Lawyers offers all potential clients a free case review. Schedule yours today by calling us at (800) 477-7510, starting a live chat, or filling out the online contact form. We understand that car accidents do not always happen during normal business hours, so someone is available 24/7 to take your call.