I recently handled a trucking accident case in Auburn where a commercial box truck crossed the center line and struck my client’s vehicle head-on. As a result of the collision, my client suffered severe and permanent spinal cord personal injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life. As we began working the case, we found out that the truck that hit my client did not have any liability insurance to cover the accident. Thankfully, my client had uninsured motorist coverage on his automobile insurance policy that provided some compensation for him and his family.
I wish that I could say that instances like this are rare. Alabama and many other states have attempted to address this issue by passing laws that require all drivers to have at least minimal levels of liability insurance. However, not all states require bodily injury liability insurance, and those that do only require a small amount (as low as $10,000.00 in some states). With the rising costs of medical treatment, minimal levels of insurance are often not adequate to fully compensate an injured party for his or her injuries. Additionally, despite these laws, it is still all too common to see drivers who ignore the law and drive with no insurance. In recent studies, the Insurance Research Council estimated that nationwide, 12.6% of all drivers (29.7 million drivers) are uninsured. It is estimated that Alabama is above that mark, with between 20 – 26% of all drivers uninsured. That means that in Alabama, nearly one out of four drivers does not have automobile liability insurance.
So what is uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage and how does it work in a personal injury claim? Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is a portion of your automobile insurance policy that provides personal injury benefits to you and your family if the person who causes the accident does not have any liability insurance or does not have enough liability insurance to fully compensate you and your family for your injuries. It will also provide benefits in instances such as a hit-and-run accident where the accident is caused by another driver who flees the scene and is unknown. It is relatively cheap to increase the limits of uninsured motorist coverage on your automobile insurance policy so all drivers should discuss a possible limit increase with their insurance agent.
Please keep in mind that in Alabama, an insurance company is not required to inform an insured about potential uninsured or underinsured benefits that may be available. Additionally, there may be procedural measures that must be met in order to ensure that an insured is entitled to receive benefits. Therefore, if your are injured in an automobile accident, I would recommend contacting a personal injury attorney to discuss all of your available options.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you can contact one of our car accident attorneys today. Our consultations are always confidential and free of charge. Call our office 205.324.1212 today to set up an appointment.