If you recently got hurt in a serious car crash or if another driver totaled your vehicle and only carried the minimum amount of insurance necessary, you may find yourself considering a personal injury lawsuit. Bringing a civil suit against a driver who causes a crash can be a way to recover lost wages, medical expenses and the cost of repairing property damage.

If the other driver made an obvious mistake, you might think that your claim to compensation is straightforward and clear. After all, you have injuries and obvious costs that directly relate to a car crash caused by the other driver.

However, knowing your actions didn’t play a role in the crash at all will be important, as the other driver could assert in court that you contributed to the crash and therefore aren’t eligible for compensation.

Alabama does not allow those who contribute to an incident to make a claim

Contributory negligence is a legal term for when one person’s actions directly contribute to the outcome of a situation. It basically means that even the person who many would consider a victim in the situation bears some of the blame for the outcome.

An example might be when the driver who wound up ticketed for the crash started sending a text while proceeding through an intersection. If they crash into another driver, it would seem that they have all of the culpability for that collision due to obvious negligence.

However, if the driver who wasn’t texting failed to use their turn signal before they proceeded through the intersection, they may have contributory negligence for the crash, which will negate their right to seek compensation under current Alabama law. While other states simply reduce the amount of compensation by the amount of fault a driver has, Alabama does not allow someone who contributed to a collision to bring a lawsuit against the other driver involved.

The driver fighting the lawsuit is the one who must prove contributory negligence

The courts aren’t going to analyze the situation for contributory negligence unless the defendant in a civil lawsuit asserts that negligence as part of a defense against the claim. They will have the burden of proof to establish that the plaintiff played a role in causing the crash.