Car accidents often happen in the spur of the moment, but the consequences may last a lifetime. Even the most cautious pedestrians and drivers can get involved in an accident because it all happens so quickly. Likewise, an error in judgment or a small mistake is all it takes for an accident to occur.
Between lost wages, high medical bills, and other expenses, the cost of an accident can run into thousands of dollars. Few people have that kind of money lying around, which is why it’s essential to be compensated for your losses and injuries. In Alabama, you lose eligibility for compensation even if you’re only partly at fault for the accident, so it is important to understand how comparative negligence will apply.
Alabama’s Contributory Negligence Laws
Traditionally, when you get injured in a car accident, you’re entitled to recover damages from the at-fault party. But, have you ever wondered what happens if you file a lawsuit and the jury rules that you partly share the blame? Does it affect your eligibility and right to compensation?
Well, Alabama’s contributory negligence rule stipulates that you can’t recover damages if you played a part in causing the accident. This means you can’t file a compensation claim against the other driver, even if you are only 1% at fault for the collision.
Therefore, the contributory negligence rule bars car accident victims from recovering damages if they were partly responsible for the crash. For instance, if you got injured in a car accident that occurred while you were texting, you’re partly to blame, even if the other driver was driving under the influence. Both drivers share responsibility for the accident.
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Filing a Claim with the At-Fault Driver’s Insurer
Under Alabama law, car crash victims should file a lawsuit or claim against the at-fault driver within two years of the accident. If the deadline lapses, you lose your right to compensation. Nonetheless, it’s always challenging to pinpoint whose actions led to your injuries. As a result, it’s common to have multiple claims from one accident.
Suppose you’re driving on Interstate 20, and a speeding truck in the adjacent lane blows a tire and loses control. In a bid to avoid crashing into the truck, you swerve hard and end up rolling your car, suffering injuries that require surgery. Depending on the investigation results, you may have multiple injury claims from the accident.
You can file a negligence claim against the truck driver and employer, or even the tire supplier if manufacturing defects contributed to the blowup. All the claims you’ll make revolve around the concept of negligence. In this case, you’ll need to prove that:
- The at-fault driver owed you a duty of care, i.e. the duty to drive their car safely as per Alabama’s traffic laws.
- The at-fault driver neglected the duty of care, causing the accident and your injuries.
- You suffered emotional, physical, and financial harm due to the at-fault driver’s negligence.
Fighting Contributory Negligence
When you file a compensation claim against the at-fault driver and their insurance company, they’ll try to avoid paying you by claiming you were partly at fault for the crash. Contributory negligence is a strict and somewhat harsh rule, but there’s always a way to argue that it shouldn’t apply in your case.
With an experienced attorney representing you, it could be possible to convince the court that you weren’t negligent. There’s never a guarantee that this approach will succeed, but it increases the chances of recovering damages. For instance, if you prove that you weren’t texting on your phone while driving while the other driver was drunk, you may recover damages.
The alternative is to try aligning your case with the wanton behavior exception to Alabama’s contributory negligence rule. The rule stipulates that a person behaves wantonly by acting with a conscious disregard for the safety and rights of others. Simply put, they deliberately engaged in risky behavior, therefore you can recover damages if you prove that the at-fault driver acted wantonly.
What If the At-Fault Driver Isn’t Insured?
Although Alabama law criminalizes driving without carrying insurance, many drivers commit the offense every day. Therefore, there’s a high chance of getting involved in a crash with an uninsured driver. Furthermore, even if the at-fault driver carries liability insurance, it may provide enough compensation for your losses and injuries.
At-fault drivers are still liable for an accident even if they don’t have insurance. However, getting compensated in such situations can be tricky. You may need to file a lawsuit to recover damages from the at-fault driver’s assets.
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How to Fight for Fair Compensation
Even if you’re partly to blame for the accident, you still deserve to get compensated for your injuries and losses. However, recovering damages is a difficult and complex process. After an accident, you’ll have a lot of things going on in your mind.
You should never assume blame until the facts of your case are thoroughly investigated. What may appear like an error on your part could’ve been a poorly maintained road or unsafe weather. Remember that many factors contribute to road accidents, and therefore, you could be blaming yourself for something you can’t control.
Indeed, there’s never a guarantee that your case will fall under one of these exceptions. Nonetheless, having an experienced car accident attorney by your side increases your chances of getting compensated. They will prioritize you and your well-being and build a strong compensation claim. Allegations of contributory negligence are often a common way insurers avoid paying accident claims, but if your attorney proves that the other driver shares responsibility for the crash.
Consult an Experienced Attorney Today
If you got injured in a car accident and you’re partly to blame, the attorneys at the law offices of Morris Bart are there to help protect your rights and fight for compensation. We have decades of hands-on experience handling personal injury lawsuits, standing up for car accident victims, and helping them recover damages. Call us for a free case evaluation.
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