If you were involved in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence in Alabama, it is natural to believe you are entitled to compensation for your injuries from that driver. However, one law in Alabama can make it harder for you to recover damages and hold a driver liable: the Alabama Guest Statute.
Understanding what the Alabama Guest Statute is and when it applies is critical when pursuing financial compensation for car accident injuries in Alabama.
Alabama’s guest passenger statute prohibits guests from suing drivers for injuries and damages. According to the statute, a guest is any rider traveling in the driver’s vehicle without paying the driver. Drivers are only liable if they willfully, or purposefully, acted in a manner that caused those injuries.
The guest passenger statute limits your ability to seek compensation if you are a passenger inside another person’s vehicle and don’t compensate the driver for the ride.
The guest statute typically applies if you are involved in a crash as a passenger of another person’s car, van, truck, or any other motor vehicle. Examples include:
Due to the law specifying the statute applies when riding in a vehicle without payment in exchange, the guest statute may not apply if you are involved in a traffic accident as a passenger of these vehicles:
The Alabama Guest Passenger Statute makes it more challenging to recover damages against a negligent driver if you were a passenger in their vehicle before a crash. Under the law’s terms, pursuing a claim requires passing one of these two challenges:
One way to prove a passenger wasn’t a guest is to demonstrate the ride was mutually beneficial for the driver and the passenger. In the Alabama Supreme Court Case Cash v. Caldwell, the court asserted that if the ride serves the mutual interest of both the driver and rider, the rider is considered a passenger rather than a guest. A rider is a guest if the rider is the only one who benefits from the ride, with the driver receiving goodwill or hospitality.
Examples of evidence demonstrating a mutually beneficial ride include:
Alabama law defines wantonness as conduct that disregards others’ rights or safety with reckless abandon. A driver who commits wanton misconduct likely engages in aggressive or reckless driving. These actions include:
A car accident lawyer can investigate such behavior by collecting and analyzing evidence to establish wanton conduct on the driver’s part. They can help you understand your rights as a passenger to pursue a claim against the driver.
Traveling as a passenger and getting into a car accident necessitates immediate action to protect your rights. Once you ensure your safety and call the police and emergency services, taking additional steps can greatly strengthen your case for compensation.
Follow these essential tips after your crash:
Our mission at The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers is to ensure you are not alone after a car crash. If you’ve been injured while riding in another person’s vehicle in Alabama, our team of dedicated and compassionate experts can represent your interests, ensuring the possibility that you maximize your compensation. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.