Alabama’s contributory negligence law and its effect on your case
Every driver has a responsibility to others to drive carefully. As a general rule, if a driver breaks that duty through careless driving and, as a result, injures someone else, the driver is liable to the victim for damages. There is, however, a major exception to this rule in Alabama: contributory negligence.
Contributory negligence is a legal defense available to the defendant. If the defendant can prove that the plaintiff in a lawsuit (the injured person) was at fault in the accident, then the plaintiff may not be able to recover any damages at all from the defendant.
If the defendant’s conduct rose far above the level of negligence and constituted wanton conduct that demonstrated flagrant disregard for the safety of others, however, then contributory negligence will not prevent the plaintiff from winning compensation.
In a civil case in Mobile last year, the jury asked the judge to define contributory negligence. According to the plaintiff’s family, Roosevelt Jones was driving out of the Greater Gulf State Fairgrounds when a gate crashed through his windshield, killing him. The defense contended that because Mr. Jones scored a 1.0 percent on a blood alcohol test, he contributed to his death. Therefore his estate was not entitled to the $4 million in compensation they sued for. The family noted that Mr. Jones was traveling at two or three miles an hour and could not have affected the gate. This case fairly shows the lengths a defense team will go to keep from losing such a case.
When an accident case comes to our office, we carefully dissect every aspect of the case, interviewing witnesses, searching for video evidence, and studying the medical records, accident scene, and vehicles involved. If you have been in an accident, or lost a loved one due to the negligence of another party, our personal injury attorneys may be able to help you.