Based on 2021 data, Alabama leads the list of the most car-dependent states in the country. Various factors, such as a 98% vehicle ownership rate for working adults, have contributed to its ranking.
In 2022, around 144,000 car accidents occurred in the state. Over 16,000 of these happened on interstates, including I-65 and I-85, which are two of the most dangerous roads in the US. Mobile and Birmingham, the cities where these highways traverse, have collectively logged more than 25,000 vehicular mishaps in the same year, representing around 17% of the total incidents in the state.
To prevent accidents and to protect motorists, passengers, and pedestrians from property damage, injuries, and death, several laws have been implemented statewide, such as the following:
Alabama Basic Speed Law
The state’s regulations dictate that one should only drive at a speed that is reasonable based on the existing conditions. Some considerations to take into account when driving are the weather, road quality, traffic visibility, and one’s own state while driving. In 2022, over 3,600 car accidents in Alabama involved driving too fast for the given conditions, according to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center’s Safety Portal.
Statistics from the same period also showed that more than 2,000 vehicular accidents in the state were caused by driving over the speed limit. The statutory limits in Alabama include:
In an urban district
On an unpaved road
Where posted on interstate
According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, drivers who don’t follow a roadway’s speed limit may face penalties. Being 1 to 25 mph over it adds two points to a driver’s offense record, while going at least 26 mph more than the speed limit is equivalent to five points. License suspension for a minimum of 60 days is the punishment if one accumulates 12 points or more in the span of two years.
Additionally, violators going beyond 15 mph of the speed limit while operating a commercial vehicle can get their commercial driver's license disqualified.
Safety Belt and Child Restraint Laws in Alabama
While in the driver and passenger seats of a moving vehicle, occupants should be properly restrained at all times, like with a seat belt. In line with this, children up to 15 years of age should be restrained appropriately (e.g., through a booster or convertible seat), whether in the front or back seat of the following vehicle types:
Vans (with 10 or fewer seating capacity)
Sports utility vehicles
According to 2022 data, around 75% of occupants in car accidents in the state were wearing seatbelts, and about 79% of the incidents did not involve injuries and only resulted in property damage. If you want to lessen injury risks in case of an accident, make sure that you are using the right restraint system for the children you’re traveling with.
Following state laws also prevent you from being penalized; drivers not abiding by Alabama’s seatbelt regulations need to pay a $25 fine for every violation. In addition, they get a point added to their record upon the first offense and two points on subsequent ones.
No Passing Zones in Alabama
Almost 30% of vehicular accidents in Alabama in 2022 occurred on highways with two lanes. Additionally, crossing the center line was a contributing circumstance in over 9,000 cases. According to state laws, solid yellow lines in the center of two-lane highways indicate that crossing the center line and passing the vehicle in front are prohibited. These are only allowed if the yellow line on the driver’s side of the road is broken.
Steering a vehicle to an improper lane or a restricted lane translates to two or three points, respectively. Furthermore, making an illegal passing or being on the wrong side of the road adds six points to one’s record.
Alabama Loads Must Conform to Law
In 2022, “vision obstructed” was included as a contributing circumstance in almost a thousand Alabama car accidents. Based on state regulations, drivers should have a clear view and room for movement while behind the wheel by not overloading their vehicle and not having more than three occupants in the front seat.
Alabama Right-of-Way Law
Alabama’s 2022 stats have shown that more than 22,000 drivers’ failure to yield the right-of-way led to a car accident.
To avoid collisions and to enable safe road usage, every road user should follow statewide regulations at all times. Those with the right-of-way in Alabama roads include:
pedestrians on crosswalks (if allowed by traffic signals and signs);
pedestrians on crosswalks without existing traffic signals;
vehicles on a public road (if one is entering from a private road);
the vehicle to one’s right while on an intersection with no signs and signals; and
Motorists found to be in violation of the state’s right-of-way regulations will gain five points on their offense record.
Alabama Vehicle Insurance Requirements
According to Alabama car laws, auto liability insurance is required for personal and commercial vehicles. Consequently, one may be penalized through fines and license suspension for not abiding by these rules.
The minimum limits in the state are:
$25,000 property damage liability per accident
$25,000 bodily injury liability per person
$50,000 bodily injury liability per accident
Some auto insurance providers may also propose higher coverages depending on different factors, including the purpose and type of vehicle.
Alabama Statute of Limitations
The state’s statute of limitations for auto accident cases that involve personal injury or wrongful death is two years. If a claim is only in pursuit of compensation for vehicle damage—which applies to cars that require repair or replacement after an accident—the deadline is automatically set to six years. The two-year statute of limitations, which applies to both personal injury and property damage claims, is intended to protect accident victims' right to seek justice. Personal injury and property damage claims commence on the date of harm or impairment. However, if the injury does not manifest until a later date, the two-year statute of limitations begins to run on the date the injury is discovered. For victims younger than 18 years old, the statute of limitations is extended until their 21st birthday.
Alabama Is an At-Fault State
Since Alabama is not a no-fault state, the pure contributory negligence law is applied to accident cases. This affects more than just the at-fault driver because plaintiffs who are at least 1% at fault cannot obtain damages. This means that, for instance, driving slightly over the speed limit when a car accident takes place disqualifies a victim from being entitled to damages.
What Happens After a Car Accident in Alabama
If you find yourself involved in a car accident, there are things that you need to get done right away and in the next few days and weeks. If possible, after the initial shock of the incident subsides, you should check on yourself and the people you’re with to see if anyone has been harmed or wounded. Even if you think no one has been injured, calling 911 for medical assistance can give you peace of mind or help detect bodily injuries that are not visible.
You should also phone the police (if no one is present onsite) and inform the officers who have arrived about what happened. However, be careful with your statement and avoid apologizing or saying that you are responsible for the accident. They will ask you to fill out and submit an accident report. Check out this section to learn more.
If another party is involved in the accident, it is important that you exchange the following contact details with them:
Name and address of people involved
Driver’s license number and vehicle registration number
You should also inform your car insurance provider right away, but it is advisable to hire a lawyer before doing so. This is because car accident lawyers are well-versed in the tactics insurers use to avoid paying the total amount claimants are entitled to.
How Much Someone Can Sue For a Car Accident in Alabama
In Alabama, an auto accident victim can obtain economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Economic damages refer to a claimant’s monetary losses, such as property damage, medical costs, and lost wages. Intangible losses like pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and psychological distress are types of non-economic damages. Meanwhile, punitive damages are meant to punish the party responsible for the accident.
The state’s Supreme Court has deemed it unconstitutional to limit the damages one may seek in a personal injury claim, including those arising from car accidents. However, in cases where the responsible party is a public employee, the following cap has been put in place:
$100,000 for property damage claims
$300,000 for claims involving at least two injured parties
Punitive damages have also been capped at $1,500,000, or three times the value of the actual damages. For this type of compensation to be awarded, the at-fault party’s “deliberate or conscious malice”—and not just their negligence—should be proven in court.
Alabama Vehicle Regulations
Does Alabama require vehicle inspections?
Generally, a yearly inspection is not a requirement for vehicle registration in Alabama. However, based on the 2020 code, this step is necessary prior to selling a vehicle or transferring ownership to another party. In addition, cars that have been rebuilt or salvaged should undergo inspection.
Vehicle inspections usually cost $90 and are overseen by the Alabama Department of Revenue. For more information, you may visit the agency’s website here.
Alabama Vehicle Permits
In Alabama, car owners should complete vehicle registration within 20 days. The documents and items one should present before the local license plate issuing office depend on factors such as vehicle purpose and type, but the following are prerequisites in all cases:
Motor vehicle title
In line with this, different license plates are granted to different kinds of vehicles, such as standard passenger cars, motor homes, vintage vehicles, taxis, and tow trucks.
If you want to know more about the vehicle registration process, the state’s Department of Revenue has answered some frequently asked questions here.
Reporting Accidents in Alabama
Reporting a car accident in Alabama is required if it results in injury or death or if the value of property damage amounts to at least $250. Sending an accident report doesn’t have to be done right away, but you are only given 30 days after its occurrence to file.
You need to submit a completed Form SR-13 to the Alabama Department of Public Safety. To fill in some of the required details, you might need to obtain a copy of the crash report by requesting one here or going to the police station that investigated the incident.
Legal Resources for Alabama Car Accident Victims
This online resource is the product of a collaboration between nonprofits Legal Services Alabama and the Legal Services Corporation, as well as several groups and government entities across the US. It has a webpage detailing what one should and should not do after a car accident, such as filing a police report, informing one’s car insurance company, and contacting a lawyer. It also lists the contact information of relevant government agencies.
To seek assistance directly from the organization’s lawyers, you may call 1-866-456-4995 or visit this page. You may also call its toll-free number (1-866-456-4995) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.
The Alabama Department of Transportation Claims Page
Government agencies' failure to maintain the safety of the roads under their control may be a contributing factor in some instances of auto accidents. If you want to file a personal injury or property damage claim against Alabama’s Department of Transportation, you may do so by filling out and submitting the correct form available on this page. It should be noted that you have one year from the date of the incident to file a claim. Additionally, there is a two-year deadline in cases involving wrongful death.
You may call the agency at (334) 353-6554 or email it at firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries.
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Highway Patrol
This division is tasked with investigating car crashes and enforcing motor vehicle laws. It can be reached at (334) 676-6003 or email@example.com.
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