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Dealing with Permanent Disabilities After a Car Accident

April 16, 2024 Personal Injury

After a traumatic car accident, severe injuries can have life-altering consequences.  In this blog post, we will talk about ways to deal with permanent disabilities after a car accident, both legally and financially.

Compensation for permanent disabilities can vary drastically in Alabama, depending on how the accident occurred, whether the at-fault party has sufficient insurance coverage, and what other financial benefits may be available.

Sources of Compensation for Permanent Disabilities After a Car Accident

In any personal injury case with severe injuries, a good personal injury lawyer will try to obtain the maximum available compensation. In car accident cases, there are generally three sources of available compensation for permanent disabilities if you weren’t at fault:

  • The at-fault driver’s liability insurance
  • The at-fault driver’s personal assets; and
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Let’s discuss each of these three sources of compensation:

Source #1: At-Fault Driver’s Liability Insurance

The at-fault driver should have liability insurance to cover your injuries and damages.  Alabama law requires it. However, one recent study concluded that 19.5% of drivers do not have car insurance. It’s estimated that another 30-35% of Alabama drivers’ only have the mandatory minimum coverage of $25,000.

Some driver’s have much more liability insurance coverage.  Liability insurance coverage is usually sold in the following amounts:

  • $25,000 (minimum)
  • $50,000
  • $100,000
  • $250,000
  • $500,000
  • $1,000,000

The purpose of liability insurance to is cover the at-fault party when his or her negligence causes injury.  However, most drivers in Alabama either have no insurance or $25,000 to $50,000 in liability insurance.

Source #2: At-Fault Driver’s Personal Assets

If you have permanent disabilities have a car accident, you don’t have to settle for their at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits.  The at-fault driver is responsible for the full amount of harm caused regardless of the amount of insurance they carry.

However, the practical problem is that people who have no insurance or minimum insurance rarely have significant assets.  Most people in America live paycheck to paycheck.  If the at-fault driver does not have significant insurance, it is likely they do not have significant assets.

You could still file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and hope to get a big verdict.  If you do, you can try to collect the verdict, but it may be very difficult.  In addition, the at-fault driver could file bankruptcy, and you would be left with pennies on the dollar.

We have handled some cases where the at-fault driver had a small amount of liability insurance but did have significant assets. In those cases, we were able to get compensation directly from the at-fault driver.  However, this is the exception, not the rule.

Source #3: Your Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Never heard of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage? You’re not alone.  But it’s extremely important in dealing with permanent disabilities after a car accident.

What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (“UM/UIM”)?

It’s something you purchase that covers you in the event an uninsured or underinsured motorist causes you serious injuries.  Your own insurance company “steps into the shoes” of the wrongdoer and will pay up to the limits of your policy.

In addition, in Alabama, you can “stack” your UM/UIM coverage up to three times. So if you have $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage but have three vehicles, you actually have $300,000 available.

Also, you can use the UM/UIM coverage of any “resident relatives.”  Therefore, if you live with a relative, you can actually tap into their car insurance coverage for compensation for your permanent disabilities.

Read our blog post Know About Uninsured Motorist Coverage Before It’s Too Late to learn more about UM/UIM.

Other Sources of Compensation For Permanent Disabilities After a Car Accident

You may have other sources of compensation available to you.  If you have permanent disabilities after an Alabama car accident, it is time to consider all options available:

  • Workers’ Compensation Benefits: Were you on the job at the time of the accident? If so, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.  Read our practice area page about workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Short-term and Long-term Disability Insurance Benefits.  Do you have this type of insurance? If you’re uncertain, always check with your employer to see if you have it. It will cover you according to the terms of the insurance plan, which is usually 50-67% of your income for the period of disability.
  • Social Security Disability: If you have permanent disabilities after a car accident, you may also qualify for social security disability benefits. Review the Disability Guidelines from the Social Security Administration to see if you may qualify.
  • Accidental Insurance Benefits: You may have accidental insurance benefits (i.e. Aflac) that will cover out of pocket medical costs after a car accident.

We hope this blog post was helpful for those dealing with permanent disabilities after a car accident.  If you ever have any questions about your options, please give us a call to schedule a free consultation with our personal injury lawyers.