The Contributory Negligence Law states that if you contribute in any way to an accident in which you are injured, then you may not recover damages. Most states have abolished this law, and in fact Alabama is one of only four states who keep this one on the books.
Contributory negligence is punitive towards the plaintiff and the insurance companies know this. An example of how little it can take to deny your damages is this:
You are pulling up to a 4-way stop sign. You slow down and roll to an almost complete stop, and then proceed through the intersection. However, to your left a distracted driver completely blows through the stop sign and slams into your car. You are obviously the injured party, but because you did not come to a complete stop, you may be unable to collect damages from the driver of the other car.
Of course the insurance companies know how this works, and their questions are designed to, perhaps, trap you. When the insurance company contacts you, usually weeks after the wreck, they will ask questions like:
- Where were you going?
- Were you running late?
- Were your kids in the car?
- Were you distracted?
- What was the speed limit?
For instance, if you say the speed limit was 50, and you were going over 50 – even by a little, then they will say that you contributed to the cause of your accident. You have to show that the other person was 100% liable in the wreck.
Insurance companies see this as a foothold and, under the current law, will deny your claim.
If you are in an accident in the state of Alabama, and there is any question as to who is at fault, contact an attorney before talking to the insurance company.
If you have legal questions, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.