No one ever plans on being involved in a car accident. When you are, however, you may take for granted that you can simply recover damages from the at-fault party. It isn’t necessarily a fast or easy process, but it’s certainly your legal right.
What happens if the at-fault driver fled the scene of the accident or did not have insurance?
With Uninsured Motorist coverage, you still have an important option: filing a claim with your own insurance company. Uninsured motorist claims can cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, you may find yourself in a different type of battle, this time against your own insurer.
Uninsured motorist claims in Alabama are notoriously complex as your insurer essentially steps in as the at-fault party. Some of these claims even result in bad faith by your insurance company. This is why it’s crucial to work with an experienced Mobile uninsured motorist claims lawyer.
Contact Lattof & Lattof, P.C. today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Mobile car accident lawyer who will fight for you.
How a Mobile Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help with an Uninsured Motorist Claim
You never expect to be involved in an accident, let alone with an uninsured motorist. Unfortunately, more than 18% of Alabama drivers have no insurance, the 6th highest rate in the United States. That means that in an accident, there is a good chance the driver won’t have coverage for your damages.
In an ideal world, you could simply submit your claim to your own insurer as an UM/UIM claim. This coverage, which you must opt out of receiving in Alabama, is designed to protect you when an at-fault uninsured driver hits you. Sadly, it also pits you against your insurance company.
At Lattof & Lattof, P.C., we understand the frustration and pain you are facing. You need compensation to pay for your property damages, medical expenses, and lost wages, but your insurance company has suddenly become the enemy. Since 1952, our family-run law firm has represented accident victims like you in seeking maximum compensation in challenging claims.
Our Mobile personal injury attorneys have a combined century of experience to put to work for you. We have a proven track record of securing high-value insurance settlements and jury awards for our clients and we will strive to do the same for you.
When you choose Lattof & Lattof, P.C. to represent you, we will:
- Conduct a thorough investigation into your accident
- Gather evidence to prove the other driver was at fault
- Seek evidence that the other driver did not have insurance or cannot be located
- Negotiate with the insurance company to seek a fair settlement offer
- Represent you in a bad faith lawsuit if your insurer does not act in good faith
You do not deserve a stressful and frustrating fight with your insurance company as you struggle to recover. Contact Lattof & Lattof, P.C. today to schedule a free consultation with a compassionate uninsured motorist claims lawyer who can help.
Car Insurance Requirements in Alabama
Like most states, Alabama requires minimum amounts of auto insurance coverage. The minimum amount of coverage all motorists must carry is:
- $25,000 bodily injury per person
- $50,000 bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 property damage
Alabama is also an at-fault state which means, in an accident, an injured party makes a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company, not their own.
Alabama Code 32-7-23 also requires motorists to carry uninsured motorist coverage. All car insurance liability policies issued in Alabama include Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage of at least $25,000. UM/UIM coverage in Alabama pays for damages if you are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
However, Alabama does allow drivers to opt out of buying UM/UIM coverage as long as the insurance company has offered it.
Uninsured motorist coverage is always a good idea because it gives you an avenue to recover compensation if you are seriously hurt or facing damages after a crash with an uninsured or hit-and-run driver.
How Uninsured Motorist Coverage Works in Mobile
If you are involved in a crash caused by someone else’s negligence but the at-fault driver had no insurance, or fled the scene and can’t be located, UM coverage lets you file a claim against your own policy. If your claim is successful, your insurer pays your claim as if they were the insurer for the at-fault party.
Importantly, you are not penalized for a successful UM/UIM claim. Your rate won’t be increased and your policy won’t be canceled for a claim paid under UM/UIM coverage.
When your claim is successful, you can recover your damages up to your UM coverage limit. This is generally equal to your liability limit.
To win your claim, you must typically show that the other driver had no auto insurance and that they were responsible for the accident. Note that UM coverage doesn’t just apply to typical car accidents. You can also make a UM claim if you are injured in a hit-and-run accident if the driver isn’t found or in a pedestrian accident.
Why Your Insurance Company Is Not on Your Side
You count on your insurance company to be there when you need them. You have faithfully paid your premiums to protect you in a worst-case scenario like this. Unfortunately, winning an uninsured motorist claim in Alabama can be harder than you would expect.
Proving your claim requires showing the other driver was at fault. The burden will be on you, and your insurance company will take an adversarial approach as they step into the shoes of the other driver’s insurance company.
Because your insurance company is taking the place of the at-fault driver’s insurer, they will try to minimize the severity of your injuries, reduce your payout, and deny your claim. They have the right to pursue a claim against the negligent driver to recover what they pay you, but they know this is unrealistic. After all, drivers who do not have insurance rarely have sufficient assets to pursue.
Uninsured motorist claims can be so complex that it isn’t unheard of for insurance companies to pay for lawyers for at-fault drivers who are being criminally charged. This is because getting the negligent driver exonerated of a crime, such as driving under the influence, weakens your position that they caused the accident. Your own insurance company will have an incentive to help the negligent driver avoid liability.
When you are making an uninsured motorist claim, you may feel overwhelmed and like the system isn’t fair. Your insurance company should fight for you, not the driver who hurt you. This is why it’s crucial to work with an experienced uninsured motorist claims attorney in Mobile to fight for your rights and the compensation you deserve.
Bad Faith Claims in Mobile
Alabama law requires insurance companies to act in good faith when investigating and settling claims. An insurer that delays or denies a claim without debatable cause has acted in bad faith and may be liable for compensatory damages and punitive damages.
If your insurance company does not act in good faith handling your uninsured motorist claim, you may be entitled to file a first-party bad faith claim.
- An insurance company can demonstrate bad faith in many ways:
- Trying to settle a claim based on an application altered without the insured’s knowledge or consent
- Refusing to pay a claim for an arbitrary or capricious reason
- Misrepresenting policy provisions or facts
- Failing to settle a claim promptly when liability is reasonably clear by using some aspects of the policy to influence a settlement under a different aspect of the policy
- Failing to promptly inform a claimant why the claim is denied
- Failing to provide a statement of coverage when a claim is paid
- Transferring a claim several times to delay resolution
- Denying coverage without conducting a fair investigation
Insurance companies sometimes employ a range of tactics to delay or deny claims. They may make a lowball settlement offer and hope you drop the matter. They may fail to properly investigate your claim or misinterpret their own policy language.
With an experienced Mobile uninsured motorist claims attorney on your side, the insurance company is more likely to buckle and make a fair offer rather than risk a court finding they have acted in bad faith. If you suspect your insurer is operating in bad faith, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact a Mobile Uninsured Motorist Claims Lawyer for a Free Consultation
When you have suffered serious injuries due to an uninsured motorist, the last thing you should be worried about is financial insecurity and mounting medical bills. You have paid for UM/UIM coverage to protect you if this happens, but you may find yourself in a long fight with the insurance company.
At Lattof & Lattof, P.C., we have a combined century of experience representing Alabama injury victims in uninsured motorist claims. We are here to fight for you too. Call our law office today to schedule a free case review with a Mobile uninsured motorist claims lawyer to discuss your case.