What Determines Auto Accident Fault in Alabama?

How Auto Accident Fault in Alabama is Decided

When you are in an accident, you may deserve to be compensated for your sustained injuries. Your compensation amount is based on factors including the total harm caused to you and your property (e.g., vehicle) plus who is at fault for the accident. Every state is different in how it determines the degree of fault when you are involved in an accident. Alabama and other states such as North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia determine fault based on the legal principle of contributory negligence.

Applying Contributory Negligence to Auto Accident Fault in Alabama

When a personal injury case cites negligence against a defendant, one of the legal defenses available in Alabama is the contributory negligence statute. Basically, the defendant needs to prove that the plaintiff’s actions “contributed” to the accident. If successful, per Alabama law, the injured party cannot recover any damages – even if he or she is only 1% at fault. That means, for example, if you are in a car accident, a defendant proving you simultaneously broke any law(s) that contributed to the accident – not wearing a seat belt, speeding, not adhering to a stop sign or traffic light signal – typically results in an inability to recover damages.

It is possible to overcome this defense in specific circumstances, most often with a wanton conduct argument. For wanton conduct, the plaintiff needs to show that the defendant disregarded others’ safety or rights – either recklessly or consciously. In the area of auto accidents, some more common examples of wanton conduct arguments are drunk driving (especially with an egregiously high blood alcohol content) and disregarding long haul truck driving laws, often related to sleep minimums, vehicle maintenance, etc.

For cases regarding injury claims from auto accidents caused by negligence, determining and proving a plaintiff’s contributory negligence is one of the few defense options available. Therefore, fault is typically the most important element of an auto accident claim in Alabama – often making it an invaluable step to seek experienced legal counsel to help determine the best strategies for your case.

Looking for Legal Advice after an Auto Accident Injury?

Being involved in an accident is never easy, particularly if you and/or loved ones sustained any injuries. Let’s schedule a consultation to talk through the specifics of your case and the best strategies for navigating contributory negligence. 

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