There is an insurance coverage for motorists that can be most important in the event that a motorist is involved in a serious motor vehicle accident. Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage is an option that is available to all motorists in Alabama. Under Ala. Code § 32-7-23, no automobile liability policy shall be delivered or issued without uninsured motorist coverage. The named insured has a right to reject such coverage in writing. Unfortunately, many folks are totally unaware of the need for this type coverage.
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, you cannot assume that the other driver will have sufficient liability insurance coverage to take care of your injuries and damages. When the coverage of the other driver who caused the accident is not adequate to cover the injured motorist’s losses and damages, including medical bills, lost income and the like, the uninsured/underinsured coverage under your own automobile insurance policy can be most beneficial.
For example, Julia Beasley, a lawyer in our Personal Injury Section, handled a case for a young man who was involved in a motor vehicle crash. He was struck from behind by another vehicle operated by a person who was highly intoxicated and traveling at about 100 miles per hour. The reckless conduct of that driver caused our client severe and permanent injuries. Unfortunately, the other driver had no liability insurance at all.
Without the uninsured motorist coverage under our client’s own policy, he would not have received any financial assistance to take care of himself, and his lifelong medical needs were tremendous. In that situation, the uninsured motorist coverage of our client’s employer, as well as his personal uninsured motorist coverage, applied. The additional UM coverage allowed this case to be settled satisfactorily for our client.
Uninsured/underinsured coverage also applies in a “hit and run” accident where the owner or operator of the vehicle who caused the accident is unknown. In a recent case, which was also handled by Julia Beasley, our client was struck from behind by an 18-wheeler on an interstate highway in Alabama. His vehicle rolled over several times resulting in our client being badly injured. The driver of the 18-wheeler did not stop after causing the collision and left the scene. Although attempts were made to identify and locate the truck driver, those attempts were unsuccessful. Our client’s automobile insurance policy, which provided uninsured motorist benefits, was sufficient to compensate him for his injuries and damages.
Under the Alabama statute, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is intended to protect those “who are legally entitled to recover damages from owners and operators of uninsured motor vehicles because of bodily injury, sickness or disease, including death. It is a good idea to check your automobile insurance policy and make sure you have adequate uninsured motorist coverage.
A policyholder is allowed to “stack” the coverage of three vehicles that have uninsured motorist coverage if the injuries and damages exceed the limits of the responsible party’s liability policy. The cost of additional uninsured motorist coverage is fairly reasonable. So, my advice is to get as much coverage as possible from your carrier. If you need more information on this subject, contact Julia Beasley at 800-898-2034 or by email at Julia.Beasley@beasleyallen.com.
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