As a driver in Alabama, it’s important to understand how your state views fault when it comes to car accidents. In Alabama, a victim’s recovery hinges on whether or not another party is to blame for their injuries.
If a state operates within a fault system for car accidents and insurance, that means a victim can file a lawsuit against a negligent driver without meeting a serious injury threshold. In Alabama, which is a fault state, victims can also file claims with negligent drivers’ liability insurance companies, not their own personal injury protection insurance. Living in a fault state like Alabama has pros and cons for drivers. While it is easier to file a lawsuit, recovery is never guaranteed and fault must be proven with evidence. In addition to being a fault state, Alabama is a pure contributory negligence state, meaning victims will be barred from recovery entirely if they share fault for their injuries. Because of this, it is important to have a Birmingham car accident lawyer in your corner to help you navigate your claim.
What is a Fault State?
When it comes to car insurance and who is liable for a car accident, states can go one of two ways. They can either be “fault” states, meaning the person who caused the accident is liable for the victim’s damages, or they can be “no-fault” states, meaning the victim files a claim with their personal injury protection insurance, regardless of who is to blame for the crash.
Alabama follows the former system. So, drivers in Alabama are not required to get personal injury protection insurance; they only need liability insurance. After a car accident happens, insurance companies will investigate the accident to see who is at fault. This means you will be relying on a negligent driver’s liability insurance to provide you with compensation for your damages.
In no-fault states, it doesn’t matter who acted negligently, as the victim can always file a claim with their personal injury protection insurance. In fault states like Alabama, determining fault is the crux of the issue. So, it will be important for you to document your accident by calling the police, taking photos, and speaking to eyewitnesses. You can then present this evidence to the negligent driver’s liability insurance carrier so that you have a greater chance of recovery.
Is Living in a Fault State Like Alabama Better for Drivers?
Although living in a fault state like Alabama means car accident victims must often depend on a person’s liability insurance for their claims to be approved, it also means that victims can more easily file lawsuits.
In no-fault states, there’s often a serious injury threshold. Personal injury protection insurance will cover a victim’s injuries and lost wages up to a certain extent. Victims must prove that they have serious injuries to recover further compensation, such as damages for pain and suffering. While serious injury thresholds vary from no-fault state to no-fault state, they often include injuries like spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.
In fault states, there are no serious injury thresholds. This means you could theoretically file a lawsuit for an injury as minor as a scratch. If a negligent driver’s liability insurance refuses to compensate you properly for your damages, as many insurance companies do, you can proceed with a lawsuit. This can allow you to recover compensation for all your economic and non-economic damages due to a car accident in Alabama.
Special Considerations for Fault States Like Alabama
Living in Alabama means that you can file a lawsuit following a car accident, regardless of the severity of your injuries. That doesn’t mean, however, that recovering compensation will be any easier than if you lived in a no-fault state.
Burden of Proof
Despite having no injury thresholds to meet in order to file a lawsuit following an auto accident in Alabama, victims must still meet the burden of proof to recover compensation from a negligent driver in a lawsuit. This will require evidence of fault and a victim’s injuries. Because of this, going to the hospital to document your injuries will be crucial. Your attorney can then begin to gather evidence of negligence by speaking to eyewitnesses and reviewing security camera footage, among other efforts.
Alabama takes being a fault state to the extreme. It is also a pure contributory negligence state, meaning that if a victim is even one percent at fault for their injuries, they will be barred from recovery entirely. This can make it challenging for victims to recover compensation from an insurance claim, let alone a lawsuit. Because of Alabama’s pure contributory negligence rules, it is even more important for victims to prove that a negligent driver, and a negligent driver alone, is to blame for their car accident and subsequent injuries. States with laxer rules regarding contributory negligence will only reduce a victim’s damages in proportion to liability, but that’s not the case in Alabama.
Statute of Limitations
All states have filing deadlines by which victims must bring injury claims. When living in fault states like Alabama, filing your claim well before the statute of limitations will be of the utmost importance. While you may have two years to sue, waiting can make your injuries appear insignificant and unworthy of compensation. It might also make it difficult for you to connect your damages to another party’s negligent actions when you delay filing. So, as a general rule, victims should consult attorneys and file their claims as soon as possible after motor vehicle accidents in Alabama.