Alabama Car Accident Laws - Sara Williams ESQ

Alabama Car Accident Laws

August 7, 2021

Car accidents remain one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Learn all about Alabama car accident laws and how they affect your injury claim.

Car accidents are becoming quite frequent in Alabama. Expectedly, these auto accidents leave crash victims with severe injuries. Unfortunately, too, Alabama residents often suffer fatal car accidents. For instance, in 2019 alone, Alabama recorded 856 fatal crashes and 930 deaths. Therefore, Alabama vehicle owners and other residents must understand Alabama car accident laws.

There are many benefits to understanding accident compensation laws. Firstly, you’ll know if Alabama is a no-fault state for car accidents. In addition, you’ll know if you can claim financial damages from a faulting driver after a traffic crash. Fortunately, an experienced car accident attorney can breach any information gaps you have. All you need to do is hire accident attorneys from a reputable accident injury law firm.

Alabama Car Accident Fault Laws

Alabama Car Accident Laws

American states are divided into fault and no-fault states. For example, Alabama operates a fault-based accident system. So, Alabama is not a no-fault accident state. Consequently, after traffic accidents, the fault party will provide financial compensation to the injured victim. Usually, it’s the insurance companies that cover this accident compensation. 

In practice, the injured victim has three options for recovering fair compensation for their personal injuries. They can:

  1. File an accident claim with their insurance company. After this, insurance companies usually turn around and proceed against the responsible driver and their insurer.
  2. Directly file a claim with the fault party’s insurance company. 
  3. Institute a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

Alabama’s Mandatory Liability Insurance Law

Alabama’s insurance laws mandate motor vehicle owners to have specific minimum liability insurance. Below, we break down the minimum coverage limits.

  • $25 000 for bodily injury coverage per person injured in an accident
  • $50 000 for bodily injury liability per accident you cause where multiple people sustain injuries 
  • $25 000 for property damage per accident you cause

Indeed, a single accident can cause losses higher than these figures. In such cases, drivers remain liable for the remaining money. So, it’ll be wise to exceed these policy limits. Notably, this insurance coverage applies to injuries drivers cause others in an accident.

Alabama’s Contributory Negligence Rule 

Alabama’s road users will do well to understand the contributory negligence concept. Contributory negligence refers to the injured party’s role in the accident that injured them. In Alabama, if the accident victim contributed to the accident, they cannot recover any money damages from the fault driver. Here, it doesn’t matter that they were slightly at fault. 

This unfair rule controls what judges and juries do in court. So, they can’t grant any compensatory damages to parties who’re partly responsible for their accident injuries. In addition, insurance adjusters apply this rule too when negotiating settlements. So, suppose you think you contributed to your accident injury. It’ll still be best to speak to an experienced lawyer to know if you qualify to file an accident claim.

Alabama Car Accident Reporting Laws

Alabama residents involved in car accidents sometimes have to report such collisions to a law enforcement agency. However, drivers don’t always have this legal duty. If you’re in an Alabama vehicle accident, report the crash if it:

  • Causes death to any person, or 
  • Any person is injured

Consequently, you don’t have to report to law enforcement where there was only property loss. Furthermore, you have to notify the local police department when the crash occurred in a municipality. Otherwise, you must report to the county sheriff or highway patrol. 

Filing an Accident Report

You may also have to submit an accident report. Here, you have to file this official report where the accident killed or injured any person. In addition, you must file a report where there is property damage above $500. 

You must file this report with the Alabama Department of Public Safety. Notably, you have only thirty days to fulfill this obligation. You can get forms from the local police, sheriffs, or local state troopers. Conversely, you can fill and submit the form online. 

Penalties for Not Filing an Accident Report

If you don’t file your accident report, you may have issues with the law. For example, where the accident caused only property damage, you may be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor. Such conviction can result in a $6,000 fine or one-year imprisonment. However, it’s worse if someone sustains an injury or dies. Here, you face a Class C felony conviction with stiffer penalties. 

Alabama Car Accident Laws on Damages

If you successfully prove the fault party’s negligence in Alabama, you can recover a wide range of damages. Consequently, you can generally recover economic and non-economic damages. 

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Economic Damages

This type of compensation refers to the actual losses you sustain in a crash – real financial losses. Usually, you can prove this class of damages with receipts and other documents. They include: 

  1. Medical Bills: Hospital bills include the cost of past and future medical care and equipment. Here, your hospital receipts can show precisely how much you paid. Therefore, it’s this exact amount that you’ll recover.
  2. Lost Wages: If the accident injury kept you out of work, you could recover your wages for that period. In this case, you’re arguing that you’ll have earned money but for the accident.
  3. Cost of Vehicle Repairs: Car accidents often destroy vehicles. So, you can also recover any money you spent fixing your car.
  4. Personal Property Damages: This type of damages covers all the personal properties you lost in the crash.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages refer to losses that aren’t easily quantifiable with money. In these cases, you can’t assign a dollar amount to these losses. Instead, courts and insurance companies often employ various methods to calculate the value of these losses. 

The injuries covered under this head include:

  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Punitive Damages

You can also recover punitive damages in an Alabama car accident claim. However, you’ll have to prove deliberate or conscious malice on the defendant’s part. This is a very high standard. So, establishing a claim for punitive damages is challenging. Furthermore, Alabama law caps punitive damages recovery at three times your actual damages. Conversely, you can recover $1,500,000, whichever is higher.

A personal injury attorney can get you the maximum compensation for your injuries. An experienced attorney can also explain the limits on damages to you, so you have reasonable expectations. 

Alabama Car Accidents Statute of Limitations

Like most other American states, Alabama has a Statute of Limitations for car accident claims. A statute of limitations specifies a definite period within which one must file a lawsuit. Consequently, if you miss this deadline, the courts will deny you access. In Alabama, the statutory period for car accident lawsuits is the same for other personal injury claims. Therefore, you have only two years to file a claim for compensation.

This two-year statute kicks in from the accident date. In addition, it applies to “all actions for any injury to the person or rights of another.” Furthermore, accident victims sometimes die from their injuries. In such wrongful death cases, the deceased’s estate also has to file a wrongful death suit within two years.

Notably, this time limit doesn’t apply to insurance claims. Instead, insurance companies often have separate timeframes for reporting and filing claims. Usually, too, you’ll find this information in an insurance policy.  

Statutory Period for Refiling Arrested or Reversed Judgements

In Alabama, a judgment in favor of accident victims can be reversed or arrested on appeal. This is also the case with many other civil lawsuits. In such scenarios, accident victims or their auto accident lawyers can recommence an action. However, they must do this within one year from the judgment reversal or arrest.

Claims Against the Government

Sometimes, it’s the government or its agencies that are responsible for motor vehicle accidents. Here, the victims have different statutory time limits and procedures. They include:

Government AgencyStatutory Period for Claims
MunicipalitiesSix months
CountiesOne year
The Federal GovernmentTwo years

If your claim against the federal government is denied, you have six months from the denial to file a lawsuit. These formal claims are usually administrative processes you must commence before officially filing a lawsuit.

Alabama car accident lawyer near me

Sara Williams Can Protect You With Alabama’s Car Accident Laws

Injury accident victims have already suffered bodily injuries because of the fault party. Therefore, it’ll be unfair to bear their medical expenses and other financial losses. That’s why Alabama’s car accident laws allow an injured party to recover monetary damages from the negligent driver. First, however, you’ll need an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Alabama car accident lawsuits and accident settlements can get complicated. For instance, indeed, the responsible driver had a duty of care. However, you must prove that they breached this legal duty to recover any monetary award. So, you’ll need accident injury lawyers that understand car accident laws to protect your rights. With multiple years of experience in auto accident claims, Sara Williams can be this attorney for you.

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