In serious car accidents, it is common for all people involved to sustain injuries. If you were a passenger in an Alabama car crash that was caused by another driver’s negligence, then you may be considering a lawsuit for damages.
But what happens if you were a passenger in the negligent driver’s car? Can you sue the driver for damages? Keep reading to learn how Alabama’s guest passenger law could affect your ability to recover compensation via an insurance claim or injury lawsuit.
Should I Hire a Lawyer to Help Me Navigate My Case?
According to Ala. Code § 32-1-2, there are specific situations when a passenger can sue a driver for damages in an accident that driver caused. However, in some cases, this is not possible because of the state’s “guest passenger” law.
A personal injury lawyer from our firm can evaluate your case to determine if you may be eligible for damages. If so, then we can structure your claim, gather evidence, negotiate your settlement, and litigate your case if it goes to trial.
For a free legal consultation, call 800-537-8185
What Is Alabama’s Guest Passenger Law?
The owner or operator of a car in Alabama is not liable to a guest for damage or loss arising from injuries or death. This law applies only if you have not paid the driver for the ride. If you have paid the driver for the service, or even for gas, you may still be able to sue for damages. Passengers can also sue drivers of other vehicles who cause a collision.
The guest passenger law means that it is unlikely you can use the civil court system to recover compensation if you were riding with a friend, neighbor, or co-worker. Instead, you may need to rely on your health insurance coverage or other options to pay for your medical treatment and care.
You also may have grounds for a lawsuit if the driver of your vehicle was guilty of clear misconduct. However, proving “willful or wanton misconduct” is not always easy. A simple transgression does not equal willful misconduct. You must demonstrate that the driver consistently broke regulations and that this behavior caused the crash.
What Constitutes a “Guest”?
The Alabama Code does not provide a specific definition for “guest.” In many cases, this is a gray area. However, previous rulings regarding this law give some insight into what the court may consider being a guest in a car. This case law could affect your case as much as a statute could.
Under Alabama case law, if the ride serves a mutual interest for both the driver and the passenger, a “joint business relationship” is in place. Under these circumstances, you may be able to claim that, due to mutual benefits, you were a passenger in the car and not a guest. If you can prove this in court, your injury lawsuit may succeed. An example of this would be co-workers carpooling to work.
There are several challenges to winning an injury claim as an injured passenger. In addition to proving negligence, your attorney must show that you were not a “guest,” and that the accident caused a specific injury. You want to work with a law firm familiar with the guest passenger law and how this section of the Alabama Code applies in situations similar to yours. This understanding is essential to getting a positive outcome in your case.
What Should I Do If I Need to File a Claim Based on This Type of Accident?
First, get the medical care you need and focus on your physical recovery. Do not let worries about how to pay keep you from getting immediate treatment following a crash. Your health and safety must be a top priority.
Next, as soon as your injuries allow, write down everything you remember about the accident and what happened before, during, and immediately afterward. The police report will have information about witnesses, but you might want to collect contact information (if you’re able) from anyone at the scene just in case. If you need to prove misconduct, their statements could be crucial.
Contacting a Car Accident Attorney Is a Vital Step
After your injuries are stable, reach out to a personal injury law firm for a free case review. At the Morris Bart law firm, our attorneys offer free consultations from all our Alabama offices:
We can represent car accident victims anywhere in the state. We charge nothing upfront and only ask for attorney’s fees if we win your case.
When you work with our team, you will have an attorney on your side who understands who can claim compensation under the Alabama guest passenger law and how this could affect your case. We will explain your legal options and gather evidence to show you qualify to recover damages despite the driver of your vehicle causing the crash.
Speak to an Attorney from Morris Bart & Associates, LLC, for Free Today
If you were in a car crash with a negligent driver, a personal injury lawyer from the Morris Bart law firm can help. We can evaluate the cause of the accident to determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit. If so, you may be entitled to healthcare expenses, lost wages, and other damages from the liable party.
If you have questions or would like to schedule a consultation, call our office today.
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