How Many Underinsured Or Uninsured Motorists In Alabama?
There are probably more than makes me satisfied; too many people don’t understand how important it is to have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, but there are people out there driving around with $25,000 worth of coverage, which is simply not enough in the event of injury. They don’t realize how expensive medical care is; how much it costs to go to the emergency room and get checked out if you have lingering issues, or how much it costs to have physical therapy or other types of treatment that may be needed to recover from a car wreck. What I can tell you is, while I don’t know the exact percentage of drivers in Alabama who have underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage, I know it’s not enough of them.
What Rights Do I Have When I’m in An Accident with An Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist?
Your rights are the same in terms of the claims that you make, whether or not they had insurance or had enough insurance; in other words, you’re claiming that that person was negligent or reckless under Alabama law and that you’re entitled to recover for any type of damage or injury that you may have due to that negligence or wantonness, so your rights are essentially to make a claim against your own insurance company if they are underinsured or uninsured, as long as you’ve paid for that coverage.
If you are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you have to be absolutely certain that your insurance company has been notified of the wreck, which means you’ve put them on notice, as we say in the legal world, and that the other party is uninsured and that you intend to seek an uninsured motorist claim. Keep in mind, uninsured motorist claims are only good for personal injury, so if a person is uninsured and they are negligent and you are injured, your insurance company will have to pay for your car. Underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage is automatically a part of your insurance policy unless you sign a form specifically rejecting the coverage, which means the default is that you have it.
What Would You Advise A Client Seeking to File Suit Against An Uninsured Person for Damages?
It absolutely depends upon whether or not the person has assets. It’s hard to say whether it’s worth it or not; it’s totally up to the person who was injured. In other words, you can take a judgment against someone with no insurance and all you’re doing is seeking them to sit down and write you a check; in some circumstances, you can try to take property, you can garnish their wages, you can do all sorts of things, the same as you can do with any other type of judgment, but since there is no insurance company to indemnify them, they have to pay out of pocket, more or less.
It’s hard to say whether it’s worth it or not until you know who you’re dealing with. Obviously, you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, so it just depends on the circumstances.
What Are Some Misconceptions People Have About Uninsured Motorists?
The first common misconception is that everyone has insurance just because it’s required by law; sadly, that’s not the case, which is why underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage is so vital. Some other misconceptions about having a wreck with someone who is uninsured is that they will “make it right” or pay for your damages, but the reality is, I’ve seen very few circumstances in my career in which people actually did that. The misconceptions are that the world is a nicer place than it is, unfortunately, and I think people need to be protected by their own insurance coverage.
What Are the Typical Outcomes in Claims Involving Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists?
Obviously, the wreck still has to be someone else’s fault. Even if that person doesn’t have insurance, the wreck still has to be their fault in order for you to recover against uninsured motorist coverage. Another misconception comes when people think if they are in a wreck with an uninsured motorist, they automatically have a right to make a claim for uninsured motorist benefits, but the reality is, uninsured motorist benefits are still only paid if the other person is at fault because essentially the insurance company swoops in and steps into the shoes of the person who hit you. So, if that person wasn’t at fault for the wreck, they are not liable to pay the claim.
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