Here is a brief description of some of the possible sources of recovery in the event you are injured in an automobile accident:
Liability coverage – Every driver in Alabama, and in most states, is required to have some liability insurance coverage. In Alabama the bare minimum is $25,000. This means that if you are in a wreck which is the fault of the insured driver of the other vehicle, you can count on there being at least $25,000 in coverage. Remember, liability coverage won’t pay for injuries to the driver at fault, and in many states including Alabama, it also won’t pay for injuries to any passengers riding with the driver at fault, barring special exceptions.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage – Commonly called “UM” coverage, this coverage is available in most states. UM coverage may apply in three general situations when you are injured in an automobile accident and are legally entitled to recover damages from a negligent person: (1) No liability coverage exists; (2) Liability coverage exists, but is insufficient to fully compensate your claim; (3) The driver at fault is a “phantom” or is unknown, such as when that driver flees the scene and is never identified. Not all policies include UM coverage; you may want to contact your liability policy holder to find out whether you have UM coverage, or how much it would cost to add it. Also, even if you don’t have UM coverage, you may be able to file a claim on the UM policy of someone who lives in your household. Different states have different rules pertaining to the availability of UM coverage, so it is important to consult with a lawyer familiar with the laws of the relevant state.
Medical Payments coverage – “Med Pay” provides coverage for medical care you require as a result of an auto accident regardless of liability, and it is designed to be available quickly. If you get in an accident and need to pay for medical treatment quickly, you should ask your insurance representative about the availability of Med Pay. Keep in mind that your Med Pay provider may be entitled to be repaid out of your settlement proceeds.
Personal assets – Don’t forget that the personal assets of the driver at fault are not off limits in the event that you are unable to be fully compensated by that person’s insurance coverage.
Other theories of recovery – An auto accident could possibly give rise to other types of legal actions, depending on the particular circumstances of each case. For example, if it happens to you while you are on the job, you might have the potential for a workman’s compensation claim. It is important to consult with a lawyer about your claim to make sure you explore all appropriate avenues of recovery.