If you’re in a traffic crash, you must know how to deal with an auto insurance company. If you only suffer vehicle damage, you can probably handle your claim on your own, but if you have been injured, you must have the assistance of a Talladega County personal injury attorney.
What steps should you take after a traffic accident happens? What rights do you have to recover damages? Keep reading to learn about the Alabama car accident settlement process – and to learn about your rights if you have been injured by a negligent driver in this state.
What Should You Do When a Traffic Accident Happens?
In Alabama, if you are injured in a traffic accident with a distracted, aggressive, fatigued, or intoxicated driver, take the following measures at once:
- Summon medical help and determine if anyone else needs medical assistance.
- Call the police. Ask them how you can obtain a copy of their accident report.
- Swap contact details and insurance information with the other driver.
- Take photos of the accident site, vehicle damage, and your own visible injuries.
- Admit nothing and sign nothing. Do not speak to the other driver’s insurance company.
- After receiving medical treatment, reach out to a personal injury attorney promptly.
State law requires you to report any traffic accident to the Alabama Department of Public Safety within thirty days if the accident caused any injury, death, or property damage in excess of $250. Don’t wait thirty days to make a report. Summon the police to the accident scene immediately.
You must report the crash to your own auto insurance company. Don’t make a formal statement. Report only the basic facts: when and where the crash happened, who the other driver was, the make and model of the other vehicle, and whether you were injured. Do not discuss fault.
How Does Auto Insurance Work in Alabama?
Alabama is an “at-fault” auto insurance state. This means that the at-fault driver in a traffic collision is liable for all damages and losses. Alabama requires drivers to carry liability insurance but does not require you to cover your personal injuries or damages to your own vehicle.
Alabama motorists are required to have the following minimum auto insurance coverage, although it is always a good idea to carry additional insurance for additional protection.
- $25,000 for one person’s bodily injury or death
- $50,000 for multiple bodily injuries or deaths in the same accident
- $25,000 for property damage
If you drive in Alabama without the minimum auto insurance required by law, your license may be suspended and you may be fined up to $1,000.
What if the Only Damage is Vehicle Damage?
If you are not injured in an accident with a negligent driver, but your vehicle is damaged, you can probably negotiate directly with the negligent driver’s auto insurance company. You should only need an attorney’s help if the insurance company does not operate legally or in good faith.
Most property damage claims are settled after several telephone conversations and one or two meetings with an insurance claims adjuster. Determine how much you need for vehicle repairs and any other property damage, and do not accept a settlement offer for less than you need.
However, if you have been injured by a negligent driver, you cannot take any risks. You are going to need help from an Alabama personal injury attorney to file a personal injury claim and recover the compensation you will need for your medical expenses, lost wages, and more.
How Are Most Personal Injury Claims Resolved?
Most personal injury claims in Alabama are settled in private, out-of-court negotiations or in the mediation process. Do not accept a first settlement offer from the other driver’s insurance company, make any formal statement to that company, admit any fault, or sign any documents.
Instead, refer the insurance company to your personal injury attorney, who will handle all of the negotiating on your behalf. If an acceptable settlement offer is not forthcoming in private negotiations or mediation – and it usually is – your lawyer will take your injury claim to trial.
What Does it Take to Prevail at Trial?
What does it take to prevail at a personal injury trial arising from a traffic accident? The injury victim (or the “plaintiff”) and his or her attorney must prove each of these “elements” of the personal injury claim:
- The at-fault driver (or the “defendant”) had a “duty of care” to the plaintiff and breached that duty.
- The defendant’s breach of the duty of care was a direct cause of the plaintiff’s personal injury or injuries.
- The plaintiff suffered economic and non-economic damages, has the right to compensation under Alabama law, and should be reasonably compensated.
Is There a Deadline for Personal Injury Claims?
In most cases, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim in the State of Alabama is two years from the date of the injury. If a personal injury victim was a minor when the injury occurred, the two-year period begins on that injury victim’s 19th birthday.
Other exceptions to the two-year rule are narrow and legally complicated, but you cannot wait for two years after you’ve been injured and then scramble to file a lawsuit at the last minute. Over time, evidence can deteriorate or disappear, and the memories of the witnesses may fade.
As soon as you have been treated by a medical provider, arrange to meet with a Talladega County personal injury lawyer. Your first legal consultation with a personal injury attorney is provided with no cost or obligation.
You Pay No Attorney’s Fee Unless Your Claim Prevails
Take advantage of the opportunity to receive personalized legal advice and to learn how the law applies in your own case. Your attorney will review the details of your accident and injury and will recommend the best way to move forward – which may be a personal injury lawsuit.
A Talladega County personal injury attorney works on a contingent fee basis. If you and your attorney proceed with a legal action, you will pay no attorney’s fee until and unless your claim prevails and compensation is recovered on your behalf.
If a negligent driver is responsible for injuring you or damaging your vehicle, you are entitled by Alabama law to reasonable compensation. That is your right. If you’ve been injured, having good legal help is also your right.