How Is Liability Determined in a Car Accident in Mobile, AL?

Mobile, AL, is known for its breathtaking natural beauty and hopping music scene, but it also has a reputation for traffic accidents. Statewide, there were over 159,000 crashes and 851 accident-related fatalities in 2019.

If you’re a crash victim, you might wonder, “How is liability determined in a car accident?” It’s important to know the answer, as liability can play a key role in the outcome of your case.

Here’s what to know from Jackson & Foster, Mobile’s experienced car accident lawyer.

What Does “Fault” Mean?

After an accident, you’ll probably hear the word “fault” mentioned a lot. To sue the person who hit you and win, you must prove they were at fault for the accident.

Your attorney will need to prove two things to establish fault: that the defendant acted negligently, recklessly, or wantonly and that their conduct caused your injuries.

How Is Negligence Determined in a Car Accident?

Your lawyer will need to determine that negligence occurred to win your case. They’ll have to demonstrate the following elements of negligence to prove fault in an accident:

  1. The driver who hit you owed you a duty of care. All drivers on public roadways owe a duty of reasonable care to one another. 
  2. The driver breached their duty of care.
  3. Their breach of duty caused the accident.
  4. You suffered injuries (physical, emotional, and/or financial) as a result.

Usually, the person who caused the car crash is negligent and thus liable. But if the person who hit you did so while they were working for their employer, you might also be able to hold their employer liable. 

This is common with truck accidents. If a trucker hit you, for instance, you may be able to hold their employer responsible for a lack of maintenance or forcing the driver to stay on the road longer than allowed.

Examples of Driver Negligence

Drivers can act negligently in many ways, such as by:

  • Speeding
  • Driving aggressively
  • Hitting cars from behind
  • Talking or texting on the phone
  • Violating a pedestrian’s right of way
  • Failing to maintain their car
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Alabama’s Pure Contributory Negligence Doctrine

Some states allow accident victims to recover damages if they’re less than 50% at fault, while others allow recovery even if a victim is 99% at fault. Such states simply reduce the amount of compensation by how much fault the victim bears for the crash.

Unfortunately, Alabama isn’t one of these states. Alabama follows a pure contributory negligence doctrine that bars victims from recovery if they are even 1% at fault for the accident.

It’s important to understand this because the defendant’s side will try to prove you’re at fault in any way they can. They might say you’re partially to blame because you glanced at your phone for a second or looked at the back seat to check on your child.

If the other side succeeds, you may not be able to recover any damages. 

Improving the Chances of Winning Your Case

With all the factors to juggle when asking yourself, “How is liability determined in a car accident?” proving liability can seem like an uphill battle. Still, you can do a few things to improve the odds of coming out victorious.

Gather Evidence at the Scene

Collecting evidence is incredibly important, and you must do so quickly before the police clean up the accident scene. Proof to gather includes:

  • Pictures of your car, the car that hit you, road conditions, and weather conditions. If you spot anything that might have contributed to the accident, such as a blocked road sign, take pictures of that, too.
  • Information from people who saw the accident. Collect contact information promptly before witnesses have a chance to leave the scene or ensure police officers know there were witnesses. 
  • The police report. If the police report suggests the other driver was at fault, you’re not automatically off the hook, but this goes a long way when it comes to proving liability.

Don’t Flee the Scene

Some accident victims panic and run from the scene, but you shouldn’t leave before the police arrive, even in the case of minor crashing a car. This is especially important if the accident caused extensive property damage, serious injury, or death.

If you run, it looks like you have something to hide. The police can also hit you with a fine and arrest you. 

Make a Police Report

Your attorney can ask for a copy of the report. It may include the following:

  • Information about all drivers involved
  • Location of the crash and road conditions
  • Damage to both vehicles
  • Citations issued

Don’t Admit Fault

It’s easy to slip up and say things like, “I’m sorry I hit you,” or “I must have been going a little too fast, so I didn’t see you.”

When you make an insurance claim, the insurance company can take such statements as an admission of fault. To be safe, don’t talk to the other driver’s insurance company until you’ve spoken with a lawyer. Your attorney can help in these discussions with the other driver’s insurance company.

See a Doctor

If you are hurt after a wreck, getting an opinion from a doctor about your injuries and getting the treatment you need can be an important step in your recovery.  

Call Jackson & Foster To Learn About Your Legal Options

Now that you have the answer to “How is liability determined in a car accident?” we invite you to contact Jackson & Foster if you’ve been in a Mobile, AL, crash. Our attorneys can help you determine property damage liability, understand car accident statistics, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.

Call (251) 433-6699 for a free case evaluation now.

Contact us for an evaluation of your case today.