The Alabama car insurance laws require vehicle owners and drivers to carry liability insurance. Despite these requirements, a significant percentage of Alabama drivers do not have insurance. Getting caught driving while uninsured is a crime. If you get caught, you face criminal charges and a substantial fine.
If you obey the law and have at least the minimum required amount of auto liability coverage, you still face a substantial risk of getting into an accident with an uninsured driver. If an uninsured driver’s actions cause you to sustain injuries, you could find yourself in a dire financial situation.
One of the best ways to avoid this risk is to carry uninsured motorist insurance on your own policy. That way, even if the at-fault party has no coverage, you have a way to cover your medical bills and car repair costs. You can also consult an experienced Alabama car accident attorney to explore your other options for seeking justice.
The Fob James Law Firm helps our clients get the justice and financial compensation they deserve. We can even help with getting your own insurance company to pay your uninsured motorist claim. We offer a free consultation and case review, to help you get the answers and information you need.
What Are the Alabama Car Insurance Requirements?
Alabama’s car insurance laws mandate that all drivers and vehicle owners have liability insurance. The law requires that you carry a minimum of $25,000 per person ($50,000 max per accident) in liability coverage for bodily injury. In addition, you must carry at least $25,000 in personal property damage liability coverage.
The statutes also require the inclusion of uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage in Alabama car insurance policies. However, you have the right under the law to refuse UM/UIM coverage. For you to reject UM/UIM, your insurance carrier must have you sign a rejection form. If you do not sign a rejection form, then your policy under the law will include UM/UIM coverage.
The Risk of Uninsured Drivers in Alabama
Data from the Insurance Information Institute shows that, on average, 12.6% of American drivers do not have car insurance coverage. Alabama’s numbers fall far below the average. In fact, almost 20% of Alabama motorists are uninsured, ranking our state the seventh worst in the United States. Without question, uninsured drivers pose a growing problem in our state.
Alabama also has a high rate of motor vehicle collisions. In 2019 (the most recent year for which data is available), an accident occurred in Alabama every 3 minutes and 18 seconds. Someone sustained an injury in a car crash every 11 minutes and 19 seconds. With this high volume of accidents, your odds of getting into an accident with an uninsured driver are significant.
What Are the Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Alabama?
If you drive without insurance, you could face misdemeanor criminal charges. The penalties for driving uninsured in Alabama could put you in jail for up to six months. You could face a fine of up to $3,000 or more, depending on how many times you get caught. You could also lose your driver’s license and vehicle registration for six months or more. After multiple offenses, the state could impound your vehicle.
As stiff as the penalties are for driving without car insurance, you could face a more serious situation if you get into an accident with an uninsured motorist. If the uninsured driver is at fault, you have little hope of recovering compensation for your physical, financial, or emotional damages. You won’t have any way to pay your medical bills or cover your living expenses while you can’t work.
The best way to avoid getting into this dire situation is to carry uninsured motorist insurance on your own auto policy.
How Does Uninsured Motorist Work?
When you add uninsured motorist coverage to your policy, you have coverage to fall back on when you need it. If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, you can submit a claim on your policy. You can purchase coverage that pays for medical treatment as well as property damage. This way, your medical bills and car repair or replacement will be covered—assuming you purchase enough coverage to handle a serious injury accident.
When you add this coverage to your policy, you can also add coverage for underinsured motorists. Many drivers carry only the state minimum coverage of $25,000 for bodily injury. If you are seriously hurt, that likely won’t go far enough to pay your medical bills. Underinsured motorist coverage kicks in under those circumstances and continues to pay for your treatment until you reach your policy limits. Again, purchasing enough coverage is important if you want to be protected under any circumstances.
How Much Uninsured Motorist Coverage Do I Need?
To determine how much uninsured motorist coverage you need, consider what it might cost if you have a serious accident. For example, if your car was totaled, how much would you need to replace it? More importantly, how much could your medical bills be if you sustain severe injuries? An extended hospital stay can easily reach $100,000 or more if you require surgery or any extended care.
The good news is that, for most drivers, uninsured motorist insurance is highly affordable. Most drivers can get $100,000 of coverage for less than $150 per year. So, you may find yourself wondering, Is uninsured motorist coverage worth it? We want you to know that the unequivocal answer is yes.
When Should You Contact an Alabama Car Accident Attorney?
If you get into legal trouble for driving without car insurance in Alabama, you can pay your fines and serve your time, or you can contact a criminal defense attorney. If you get hit by someone without insurance, that’s the time to consider how a personal injury lawyer can help. An attorney can help determine whether the at-fault party has any assets you can pursue legally. They can also help you explore other options for getting justice.
Another occasion that might require help from an attorney is submitting a claim on your uninsured motorist coverage. Sometimes, even your own insurance company tries to undervalue or deny claims. Having an attorney can help ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
The experienced personal injury attorneys of the Fob James Law Firm offer free consultations to personal injury and car accident victims in Alabama. Contact us today to learn more or to speak to an experienced Birmingham car accident lawyer.