According to statistics from the Department of Transportation (DOT), you have a 90 percent chance of being involved in a car crash during your lifetime as a driver in Alabama. Even if you are a cautious driver who does your best to obey all traffic laws, you can still be involved in a motor vehicle accident at any unfortunate time. It just takes one small mistake or taking your eyes off the road for a couple of seconds for a collision to occur.
Being involved in a car accident is always stressful, but what if you were the one at fault? Your next steps will depend on a number of factors, such as the state you live in, your insurance coverage, and whether you were fully or partially to blame for the collision. A car accident lawyer can answer any questions you might have and help guide you through the legal process.
At Norris Injury Lawyers, we have over 40 years of experience handling car accident cases in Birmingham and throughout Alabama. Schedule a free case consultation with a trusted member of our legal team today. Contact us 24/7 at (800) 477-7510, start a live chat with us, or fill out the online contact form to get started.
Steps to Take Following a Car Accident in Birmingham, AL
The steps you should take immediately following a car accident are the same regardless of who is to blame. Your top priority should be seeking medical attention for yourself and all other injured parties. After ensuring everyone is safe, there are actions you can take at the accident scene to help get the insurance claims process started.
Taking the following steps following a motor vehicle accident can guide you through important decisions you need to make, whether you were at fault or not:
- Call 911: If you are injured, call 911 or ask someone else to do so. In Alabama, you are required to contact the police if you were involved in a car accident that resulted in injury or death.
- Move to safety: If your injuries allow, move to the side of the road or a sidewalk. If your vehicle is driveable and in the path of oncoming traffic, pull off onto the side of the road.
- Exchange information: Get each driver’s full name, insurance information, license number, license plate number, and vehicle make and model.
- Document the accident scene: Take pictures, exchange contact information with eyewitnesses, obtain the name and badge number of officers that responded to the scene, and obtain a copy of the accident report if possible.
- Do not admit fault: Be honest and answer the police officer’s questions about how the accident occurred, but avoid saying anything that could be construed as an admission of fault.
- Notify your insurance company: Call your insurance company or report the accident using your insurer’s mobile app to get the claims process started.
- Consult with a car accident lawyer: Most car accident lawyers offer free case consultations. A lawyer can inform you of your legal rights and options and ensure you are not taken advantage of financially by the insurance company. Make sure to take this step before speaking to any insurance adjusters.
Who Covers the Other Driver’s Losses If the Birmingham, AL Car Accident Was Your Fault?
How insurance companies handle your claim will depend on whether you live in a fault or no-fault state.
In no-fault states
In a no-fault state, drivers are required to have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage. When you carry PIP, your insurer will cover the expenses related to the accident, regardless of who is at fault.
Car accident victims in no-fault states are not allowed to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver unless his or her medical bills exceed a certain limit or injuries are categorized as “serious” as defined by state law.
Alabama, though, is a fault state. This means that the driver at fault for the accident is liable for the damages of anyone injured in the accident. If you are to blame for the collision, the other drivers involved are entitled to file a claim with your insurance company.
The at-fault driver can also choose to file a lawsuit against you and try to hold you personally liable for losses sustained in the accident that exceed your insurance policy limits.
Who Pays for My Losses If I Was At Fault?
Depending on your auto insurance policy, your insurer will cover not only the damages the other driver sustained in the accident, but your own personal losses as well. The amount that your insurer pays out and the types of damages covered will depend on the type of policy and coverage that you have.
The following are the minimum liability insurance requirements in Alabama:
- $25,000 for bodily injury to one person
- $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 in property damage coverage
Typically, the insurance company of the at-fault driver will handle the car insurance claim. Be sure to contact your insurer immediately after the accident, and try to answer any questions asked as accurately as possible. The insurance adjuster will then investigate the accident to determine fault and liability.
What If I Am Partially At Fault for a Birmingham, Alabama Car Accident?
Alabama’s contributory negligence rule means that you cannot recover compensation from the other party’s insurance company if you played a part in causing the car accident. This rule is stricter than most other at-fault states. It means that if a driver was even just 1 percent responsible for the accident, he or she could not file a claim against the other driver.
For instance, if you were hit by a drunk driver but were speeding when the accident occurred, you still are partially at fault. In these situations, it is especially important to consult with a car accident attorney. A skilled lawyer may be able to argue that contributory negligence should not apply in your case or convince the insurers or court that you were not negligent.
What If You Are At Fault for a Birmingham, AL Car Accident and the Insurance Company Refuses to Pay the Claim?
Filing a car insurance claim and receiving compensation is not always easy. Insurance companies deny claims for many reasons. If your claim is denied, your insurer may notify you by letter and state the factors that added up to the decision.
The following are some common reasons why insurers reject claims:
- You did not make payments and your insurance policy has lapsed
- You committed fraud and provided false information during the insurance application process
- You have insufficient coverage
- The car accident did not cause the other driver’s injuries
- The other driver is lying or exaggerating about injuries or property damage
- You did not report the accident on time
- The other driver was found to be partially at fault
In some situations, an insurance company may deny a claim in bad faith. This means that the insurer lacks grounds to deny your claim based on the evidence provided. If you believe your claim was denied in bad faith, you should seek immediate legal advice from an experienced Birmingham, Alabama, car accident attorney.
What Should I Do If My Birmingham, Alabama Car Accident Claim Was Denied?
If your car insurance claim was denied, you do not have to take this as the last word. You can appeal the denial.
You may want to take the following steps if you feel that your claim was unjustly denied:
- Request a letter stating why your claim was denied. If your claim was denied in bad faith, the letter can serve as evidence in a bad faith lawsuit.
- Gather evidence to support your appeal. This could include dash cam or video surveillance footage from the accident scene, eyewitness statements, medical records, and more.
- Draft an appeal letter stating why you do not agree with the insurance company’s decision. Provide as much information as possible alongside evidence and documentation proving why you feel the claim should not have been denied.
- Contact the Alabama insurance commissioner if you feel your claim was denied in bad faith. The insurance commissioner protects consumers and ensures insurance companies are obeying all state laws.
- Consulate with a car accident attorney if you are not comfortable taking these steps on your own, or if you have any questions about the appeal process. A lawyer can review your case, determine if you have a valid claim, and handle all future communication with the insurance company on your behalf.
Our Birmingham, AL Car Accident Lawyers Are Here to Help You
If you think you may be at fault for a Birmingham, Alabama, car accident, it is recommended that you speak to a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can help you file your claim and ensure that you receive fair compensation. If necessary, your lawyer can even argue your case in court to maximize the money you receive.
Norris Injury Lawyers offers all clients our No Fee Guarantee®. This is our promise to you that you don’t owe us anything if we don’t win your case. Call us 24/7 at (800) 477-7510, fill out the evaluation form, or start a live chat with a representative to get started.