Personal injury law encompasses a wide range of accidents. Some of the most common personal injury cases involve car accidents. An unexpected car accident can take a huge toll on everyone involved. Not only are accidents terrifying, but they may cause physical and emotional pain. Medical bills can start to add up, auto repair is costly, and insurance companies may try to take advantage of a victim who is hurt and desperate.
One legal option that financially struggling victims have is to sue for damages. However, in Alabama, fighting a successful suit can be difficult. Alabama is one of four states that follows a “Pure Contributory Negligence” standard.
There are three types of legal negligence standards used across the U.S. explain: pure contributory negligence, pure comparative negligence, or modified comparative negligence.
PURE COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE
The easiest standard to recover under is pure comparative negligence. This rule states that a person who is injured can recover as long as the other person is at fault in any way. For example, if the person suing is found to be 99% at fault, they may still recover some damages from the other party who is 1% at fault. The damages received are reduced by their degree of fault. This is the law in several states.
MODIFIED COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE
Because this standard may not seem altogether fair, many states have instead adopted a modified comparative negligence rule. This rule tries to negate the possibility that the person mostly at fault may sue and recover from the victim. Under a modified comparative negligence rule, if a person is found to be 51% at fault (in some states 50%) then he is completely barred from recovering damages. A majority of states follow this rule as it seems to strike a balance between protecting the victim and allowing the victim to recover only when it is the other person at fault.
PURE CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE
Alabama follows the harshest rule for personal injury cases- pure contributory negligence. This standard states that a person who is injured cannot recover damages if they are even 1% at fault. This is the opposite of the pure comparative negligence, as it acts as a complete bar from recovery for damages. This may seem unfair, as someone could be 99% at fault for the accident and get off scot-free.
Because this rule is so harsh, if you are in an accident in Alabama it is extremely important to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. The administrative process that follows an accident is lengthy and time-consuming, an attorney’s advice is invaluable.
After an accident occurs, it must be reported to the Alabama Department of Safety (DPS). You should document the scene of the accident the best you can and as soon as possible. This includes description of the accident, witnesses, and all parties involved.
Following these steps may seem overwhelming, especially when you are dealing with insurance costs and injuries. Hiring an attorney can help alleviate this stress and will help guide an injured person through the process.
Most important, an attorney can help the victim recover costs. With Alabama’s harsh law on personal injury, it is essential to have someone with extensive knowledge of the law on your side.
Here at Reid Law Firm, we hope the aforementioned scenario never happens to you, but if you find yourself in a heartbreaking situation, it is extremely important to hire an attorney as soon as possible to assist with your lawsuit. Though it will not completely take away the pain you and your family have experienced, it is the best way to ensure that you get the help you need and get on the fastest road to recovery.
Special thanks to Dallas Coleman and Katie Pickle for their help in writing, researching, and editing this article.