Alabama is one of only a few states that still follow the contributory negligence doctrine. In some states, victims can recover a percentage of their damages, even if they contributed to the accident that caused their injuries. In Alabama, victims who are even slightly responsible for their accident cannot recover damages. When the victim is even 1% at fault for the accident, he or she is barred from recovering compensation. The contributory negligence rule makes it challenging for some victims to receive the damages they need to move on with their lives.
Alabama’s Contributory Negligence Rule
In an attempt to avoid paying claims for car accidents, insurance companies will go to great lengths to make it look like the victim was 1% or more at fault. They are for-profit companies that will try to pay out claims for compensation after a car accident. For example, suppose a drunk driver collided with a driver who was going 10 miles over the speed limit. The court or insurance company determines that the drunk driver was 95% at fault for the car accident. In Alabama, the victim who was driving 10 miles over the speed limit cannot recover compensation. In other states, the victim would be able to recover 95% of his or her damages.
Why You Need an Experienced Lawyer on Your Side
Suppose you are an innocent victim of a car accident in Alabama. In that case, it is crucial that you work with a car accident lawyer who will ensure that the insurance company does not blame you for 1% or more of the fault of the car accident. From an insurance company’s perspective, as long as they can prove that you were responsible for the accident, they can avoid paying you anything. Insurance companies have significant resources, including investigators, attorneys, and claims adjusters who all have the same goal, that is, to avoid paying you compensation.
Insurance companies will look for any type of fault on the part of the victim to claim that the victim was equally responsible for the car accident. Our law firm can help you gather evidence that proves that you were not negligent at all in causing the accident. For example, if the defendant claims you were texting and driving, you can prove that you were not.
You can also try to fit your case into the willful and wanton behavior exception. When the defendant was acting with a conscious disregard for the safety and rights of others, the contributory negligence rule does not apply. In other words, if you can prove that the defendant engaged in highly risky behavior, you can still recover damages even if you were somewhat responsible for the accident.
Suppose the driver who caused your accident had a high blood-alcohol level that is well above the legal limit in Alabama. In that case, you may be able to prove that the defendant engaged in hazardous behavior by getting into a motor vehicle and driving after consuming so much alcohol. Even if you were a small amount at fault, you could still recover the damages you deserve for your injuries. Meeting the willful and wanton behavior standard is more challenging than proving negligence, so you will need an experienced lawyer on your side.
The Difference Between At-Fault And Not-At-Fault Car Accidents
After a car accident occurs, the victim will file an insurance claim. At that point, the insurance companies will determine which person was at fault for the crash. The determination of fault percentages decides who will pay for the claim or for what portion of the claim. One or both drivers are often frustrated by the decision of the insurance companies to assign fault. In an at-fault accident, the at-fault party has at least 51% of the responsibility for the injuries and damage caused by the car accident. In a not-at-fault accident, the driver who is at fault has 49% or less responsibility for the accident.
Contact an Alabama Car Accident Lawyer Today
At Heninger Garrison Davis, we have extensive experience recovering compensation from insurance companies and defendants for our clients. We have recovered millions of dollars for car accident victims, and we understand how to succeed under Alabama’s contributory negligence law. Our lawyers also understand how Alabama insurance companies operate and the strategies they use to avoid paying victims. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation to learn how we can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.