Alabama is among the only states that bar people who have any degree of liability from getting compensation after accidents and injuries. Whether they’re 99% at fault or 1% at fault, Alabama says they can’t receive settlements for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Because tiny amounts of fault can be pinned on just about anyone after accidents, this means that many injured victims end up having to fight tooth and nail to have their liability reduced. If they don’t, they end up paying for their expenses out of pocket or through their health insurance policies.
However, there is a major exception to this strict law: minors.
Anyone who has young children knows that their capacity for getting themselves—and others—into trouble and even danger is almost limitless. But what happens when young children are injured for something that was only partially their fault? When they are under the age of 7, they’re exempt from Alabama’s contributory negligence rule.
Here’s an example: a 6-year-old child is running around a pool on a surface that’s excessively slick due to wear and tear. The child slips and falls and suffers a serious injury, but there’s a “No Running” sign up. If it was an adult, they would be considered partially liable and thus exempt from getting damages for their injuries. But because it’s a child under 7, they may still be eligible for compensation.
While children under the age of 7 are considered in the eyes of the law to not be mentally developed enough to be negligent, children under the age of 14 are treated on a case-by-case basis. From the outset of most injury cases involving kids between the ages of 7 and 14, there’s the assumption that they weren’t acting negligently, but further investigation is often needed.
Going back to the swimming pool example, a child between ages 7 and 14 who gets injured in the same circumstance may be eligible for compensation, even though they were running in an area where it’s prohibited. However, they may be barred from receiving compensation if they were told multiple times by a lifeguard to stop running, as this would be proof that they understood the risks of what they were doing.
Young children aren’t the only exceptions to Alabama’s contributory negligence law. People who have been incompetent or mentally handicapped are also exempt from it. That means that even if they are found to have acted negligently in a manner that led to them becoming injured, they can’t be barred from receiving compensation through an injury claim because of that fact.
Although Alabama law explicitly mentions these exceptions to its strict contributory negligence law, that doesn’t stop insurance companies from giving families and their children a hard time when they pursue injury claims.
When children between the ages of 7 and 14 get injured, it can be particularly difficult for families to win their claims. Insurance companies will do everything in their power to prove that those children were aware of the risks and were overwhelmingly responsible for their own injuries.
At The Vance Law Firm, our Montgomery personal injury lawyers know how to navigate Alabama’s strict and often confusing contributory negligence system. We believe that minors should never be barred from getting compensation when they couldn’t possibly understand the risks or how their behavior could increase their chance of injury, and we work hard to help them and their families get full compensation.
Contact us today for a free consultation.