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What is contributory negligence in a personal injury case?

By: Virtus Law Group, Birmingham Alabama.


After you’re injured in an accident, you and your attorney will discuss how the accident occurred and who bears the legal responsibility for it. In some instances, another party is the sole cause of your injury. In other situations, your actions or inactions may have partially contributed to the accident. In Alabama, this is called contributory negligence.

Contributory negligence is an affirmative defense used by defendants to claim that, though they are at fault for an accident, they are not entirely at fault. For example, if a negligent driver injures another driver when they illegally turn left in front of them, causing a collision, the negligent driver would beat least partially to blame for the accident. Let’s say, however, that the injured driver had been speeding when the accident occurred, making it more difficult to avoid a collision. This would be contributory negligence, since the injured driver is partially to blame for the accident, even if it is primarily the fault of the negligent driver.

In Alabama, a finding of contributory negligence is a complete bar to recovery. This means that if a jury believes you are even 1% at fault for an accident, you are not entitled to any compensation. Alabama’s contributory negligence rule makes hiring an experienced attorney even more crucial, to ensure that you are not held wrongly responsible for the negligence of another.


How to recover under Alabama’s contributory negligence rule

Contributory negligence can be a harsh rule, but there are exceptions in cases involving wanton or deliberate behavior. So, if a defendant acts deliberately or with reckless disregard for others, contributory negligence is not an available defense. If the negligent driver had intended to cause the accident or was intoxicated while driving, it would not matter whether the injured driver was speeding when the accident occurred.

Contributory negligence is also not available in some cases where the injured party is a minor or is of diminished capacity and, therefore, not capable of being negligent.

Contributory negligence can make recovering for your injuries more challenging, but an experienced attorney can help you get the best outcome in your case. If you were injured in an accident in Alabama, contact one of our knowledgeable attorneys for a free consultation.


Founded in Birmingham, Alabama Virtus Law Group is a Personal Injury and Labor and Employment firm serving the people of Alabama.



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