January 29, 2024
Auto Accident

Obtaining financial compensation for car accident damages in Alabama requires proving the other party’s fault and liability. You or your Montgomery car accident lawyer must present evidence, such as eyewitnesses or expert testimony, to establish the defendant’s negligence. The defendant will also have the opportunity to use various defense strategies.

Being well-prepared for the potential defenses of the opposing party in a car accident lawsuit is a proactive step. Understanding these defenses and having strategies to address them can contribute to the strength and success of your case.

1. Contributory Negligence

Alabama follows a unique form of negligence doctrine known as “pure contributory negligence.” In this shared fault rule, established by the Supreme Court of Alabama in the Golden v. McCurry case in 1980, a driver is ineligible to receive damages if they had any contributory role in causing the accident.

Alabama’s contributory negligence rule is one of the strictest in the United States, making it essential to prove that you had no role in causing the accident to receive any compensation.

Example:

You were stopped at a red light when suddenly, your car was rear-ended by the vehicle behind you. In their defense, the other driver alleges that your brake lights weren’t working properly, leading to confusion about whether you had actually stopped.

Counterstrategy:

To counter the contributory negligence defense, challenge any claims of your negligence by presenting contradictory evidence, such as maintenance records or witness testimony. Collect proof, including accident scene photos, police reports, and expert testimony, to build a strong case. 

Use expert witnesses like accident reconstruction specialists to clarify accident details and establish the defendant’s primary fault. Emphasize the severity of the defendant’s negligence, especially if they were distracted or breaking traffic laws, to demonstrate their actions as the main cause of the accident.

2. Assumption of Risk

The assumption of risk defense argues that you willingly accept the known hazards associated with certain activities, such as driving. For the assumption of risk to be a valid defense in a car accident case, the defendant must prove that you were aware of a specific, known risk associated with driving at that time and place, and willingly chose to take that risk.

Example:

You choose to drive in hazardous weather conditions, fully aware of the dangers. For instance, if you decide to travel during a hurricane or tornado despite warnings and advisories against doing so, and are then involved in a car crash.

Counterstrategy:

Collect proof demonstrating your safe and responsible driving under the conditions, such as witness accounts, weather reports, and dashcam recordings.

Argue that while you were aware of the general risks associated with driving in bad weather, the specific circumstances of the accident were not foreseeable or were beyond the risks you assumed. For example, if the accident was caused by an unexpected event like a falling tree or another driver skidding out of control into you, this could support your argument.

Use expert testimony to assess the driving conditions, your response to those conditions, and the reasonableness of your decision to travel. An expert could also testify about the unpredictability of certain hazardous weather events.

3. Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations defense is the timeframe set by law for filing a lawsuit. If you fail to start legal proceedings within this designated period, the defendant can claim that the lawsuit is barred due to the elapsed time, absolving them of liability for any damages, no matter how severe the accident or injuries.

In Alabama, this period is two years from the date of the accident.

Example:

You get in a car accident that left you in a coma, so you were unable to pursue legal action. Since you took time to recover, the defendant may argue that the statute of limitations has expired and the claim should be dismissed.

Counterstrategy:

If you were in a coma following a car accident in Alabama, there are legal provisions to counter the statute of limitations deadline. The legal concept, known as “tolling,” can pause the statute of limitations during periods when you’re incapable of filing a lawsuit, such as during a coma or while recovering from a severe incapacitating brain injury. This means the two-year limit to file a claim might be extended until you can take legal action.

To leverage this, it’s essential to have comprehensive medical documentation detailing your incapacitation. An experienced personal injury attorney can be invaluable in this process, helping you navigate the complexities of tolling and ensuring timely and appropriate action is taken.

Find Help with Your Case

In a car accident lawsuit, understanding common defenses like contributory negligence, assumption of risk, and the statute of limitations is key to a successful outcome. To effectively counter these defenses, gather strong evidence, obtain witness testimonies, and consider hiring a skilled attorney.

If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, don’t navigate this challenging time alone. Contact The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers today for legal guidance and compassionate support. Let us help you secure the compensation you deserve. Call now for a free consultation.

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