In the state of Alabama, despite the fact it is mandatory to carry liability insurance, many residents do not. In fact, the state of Alabama has about 22 percent of uninsured drivers on the roads. When you really consider this statistic, you can see that your chances of being hit by an uninsured driver is fairly high. Likely as a result of the large number of uninsured or underinsured drivers in the state, Alabama law requires insurance providers to include uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on any policy sold unless they obtain a written waiver from the policy holder rejecting uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM or UIM).
UM/UIM coverage can provide benefits to an injured person when the at-fault driver either has no liability insurance or has an insufficient amount to cover the total damages incurred. So while you may have a valid claim against a negligent driver, if that driver has no insurance or has an insufficient amount to cover your medical expenses and other damages, then your own UIM coverage must cover those damages.
The mandatory minimum amounts for liability insurance for Alabama residents is $25,000 per person, or $50,000 for personal injuries resulting from negligence while driving and $25,000 for each accident that causes property damage. Unfortunately, many car wrecks result in personal injuries, medical expenses and lost wages that can easily exceed $25,000—or even $50,000.
The amount of uninsured motorist coverage you need is dependent on just how much risk you are willing to take that the drivers you will come into contact with on any given day actually have liability insurance in a sufficient amount. Since UM coverage is fairly inexpensive, there really is no reason not to have it included in your policy.
The High Cost of Auto Accident Injuries
Of course the highest cost of car accidents is the loss of human life, however there are many more costs associated with motor vehicle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration puts the amount in loss of productivity and loss of life from auto collisions in 2010 at $1 trillion. When you consider that spending only a day in an Alabama hospital can run you as much as $1,300, try to imagine what a truly catastrophic injury would cost. In 2013, the “average” auto liability claim for bodily injury was $15,443. Further statistics related to the cost of auto collisions include:
- Private insurers pay about half of the costs of all motor vehicle collisions, while individual crash victims pay about a quarter, third parties pay about 14 percent, federal revenues for about 6 percent and state and local municipalities for about 3 percent.
- When taken as a whole, those who were not directly involved in a car collision pay about 75 percent of the total amount via taxes, insurance premiums and travel delays.
- Speeding costs not only 10,000 lives per year—speed-related crashes cost the American public about $40.4 billion a year.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cost for medical care and productivity losses related to motor-vehicle accidents in 2010 was more than $99 billion—nearly $500 for each licensed driver in the nation.
- A mild head injury can cost as much as $85,000, a moderate brain injury can cost as much as $941,000 over a lifetime, and a severe traumatic brain injury can cost as much as $3 million. Similar costs are associated with paralysis, and even a fractured leg can end up costing $30,000 or more.
More About Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist Insurance in Alabama
Most often, the amount of UM/UIM coverage will be equal to the liability coverage, but you can always purchase more, and you certainly should purchase more if you can afford it. The Insurance Information Institute recommends uninsured motorist coverage of at least $100,000 per person, therefore it is important to review your policy on a regular basis. An experienced Alabama car accident attorney can often find additional sources of coverage. As an example, if you have more than one vehicle with uninsured motorist coverage, the state of Alabama allows a process known as “stacking,” which is multiplying uninsured motorist coverage by up to three times based on the number of vehicles on a single insurance policy.
Obviously, insurance will balk at paying full claims, even to their own customers. This is the reason many insurance companies offer a quick settlement, hoping the injured driver will be so glad to have a quick settlement they will accept the check and close the claim before they are fully aware of the extent of the damages. If you are an injured passenger in an auto accident, the basic rules of UM still apply, with the primary difference being additional coverages through your own auto policy as opposed to just the policy which insures the vehicle you were riding in.
As a passenger insured under a multi-vehicle policy, you can stack up to two additional coverages, although if you are insured under a single-vehicle policy, you are limited to one coverage. There is one additional time UM in Alabama can be an issue, since this coverage follows the person rather than the vehicle. In many cases you can trigger UM coverage through someone who lives with you. This is known as “resident relative,” meaning if someone who lives with you is your relative, you may be able to make a claim on their UM coverage, even if you are not listed on their policy.
How a Martinson & Beason Attorney Can Help
If you have been injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver in Huntsville, Florence, Decatur or Athens or anywhere else in Alabama, you may be entitled to benefits you are not even aware of. Figuring out how to pay for your injuries can be stressful, leaving you unable to focus on healing. The top rated uninsured motorist accident attorneys at Martinson & Beason can take that worry away from you, allowing you the time you need to heal while they deal with the insurance company and focus on ensuring you get the compensation you are entitled to. Call Martinson & Beason today for a comprehensive evaluation of your automobile accident and injuries.