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How Can Alabama’s Contributory Negligence System Impact Your Case?

Alabama is one among the five American states that applies the contributory negligence system to car accident lawsuits. It prohibits the victim of an auto accident from recovering compensation if the defendant can prove negligence on the part of the plaintiff, which may have contributed to the accident. When fault on the part of the plaintiff is established, it could affect the case and make recovery of compensation difficult.

© Tom Wang - Fotolia.comIf you were riding with a driver you knew was drunk or reckless, or if you were aware of the car having a defect such as a flat tire, your conduct may be deemed to be negligent. A seasoned auto accident attorney can advise you on the best legal course of action in such circumstances and after a careful case evaluation.

Proving you were unreasonably negligent

Keep in mind that the defendant must prove that you were negligent before the jury. And your lawyer is sure to have strategies up his sleeve to show that you were reasonably prudent.

Say you’ve been involved in a cycling accident and the defense points out the lack of a rear reflector on your cycle. You can counter it by demonstrating items at the time of the accident that actually improved visibility, such as a blinking red light and reflective material on your helmet and shoes. Even if you violate a statute, you cannot necessarily be held negligent. For instance, the jury won’t deem you unreasonably negligent if you were doing 27 mph on a road with a 25 mph speed limit and suddenly experienced a broadside collision by someone else jumping a red-light.

Establishing proximate cause

The defense should also prove that your negligence was a proximate cause of the accident. You can work around this as well. For instance, if you were hit head-on by the defendant who lost control of his car, then the lack of a rear reflector on your cycle cannot possibly be the proximate cause of the crash.

Contributory negligence is not frequently raised by the defense given its highly technical nature, and the possibility that it may antagonize the jury. So, you don’t have to worry about it – if you need any clarifications, feel free to talk to your attorney. Meanwhile, don’t forget to take important steps after you’ve been in an accident, which includes taking care of insurance issues.

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