Your chances of being involved in an uninsured car accident in Montgomery or elsewhere in Alabama should go down next year, as authorities implement a new system aimed at cracking down on drivers who are on the road without insurance coverage.
The Montgomery Advertiser reports some 900,000 vehicles in Alabama are without insurance. Alabama passed a law in 2000 requiring all motorists to carry liability insurance. Mandatory minimum insurance requirements are $25,000 property damage and personal injury per person and $50,000 personal injury per accident.
Drivers are required to carry proof of insurance in their vehicle at all times. Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, the new enforcement efforts will allow officials to check the State of Alabama Online Insurance Verification System when a motorist renews a vehicle's license plates. Police officers will also have immediate access to the database to verify a vehicle's insurance status.
Failure to carry the required insurance can result in a fine of $500 and the suspension of your vehicle's registration. The fine for a second or subsequent offense increases to $1,000. A reinstatement fee of $200 to $400 will also be required.
Officials estimate 1 in 5 vehicles in Alabama are uninsured.
A report published by the Insurance Research Council during the economic downturn identified Alabama drives as among those most likely to be uninsured. The state ranked 6th in the nation with 22 percent of the state's 4 million vehicles uninsured at any given time.
In response, the Alabama legislature last year passed the new enforcement measures. Advocates contend too many motorists bought insurance when it came time to renew their license plates -- then stopped paying the premium.
Now, the database will permit an officer to verify a vehicle's insurance status before stepping out of the cruiser during a traffic stop. The system has been undergoing tests in Winston County, where officials say the reaction from motorists has been largely positive.
Judge Sheila Moore noted motorists who buy auto insurance want other motorists to do the same.
Indeed. Montgomery personal injury lawyers are often asked whether victims of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist are without legal recourse. The answer is complex. Certainly contacting an experienced law firm in the immediate aftermath of such accidents can be a critical factor in protecting your rights. In some cases, it may be possible to collect against the at-fault driver's assets. In other cases, insurance policies in place on other vehicles in a driver's household may provide coverage.
A driver's own insurance coverage may be another source of recovery. In fact, we recommend drivers purchase more coverage than the law requires. Typically, a substantial increase in coverage is available for a very modest increase in premium. In the event of a serious or fatal accident, $50,000 in insurance coverage might not be enough to cover the cost of your initial emergency treatment.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in the amount of $250,000 may be added to most polices for less than $100 every six months.