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Guide to Alabama Personal Injury Law – Part 3 – Determining Liability



Guide to Alabama Personal Injury Law - Part 3 - Determining Liability

For any Alabama personal injury case, you will need to prove that someone was at fault for your injury in order to receive compensation for the harms suffered. Here is a brief overview of some of the most common ways to determine liability in an Alabama injury case.

Using the Negligence/Duty of Care Standard to Determine Legal Liability

In the typical personal injury accident, an injury would not have occurred but for the carelessness of someone else. The law refers to this level of carelessness as negligence, and negligence is one of the most common ways to determine liability for a personal injury accident.

When negligence is used to prove fault in a personal injury case, it must be shown that an individual’s conduct:

  1. Fell below the standard of care expected of a reasonable individual, and
  2. The conduct caused harm to another person

In addition to this overarching principle, legal elements of negligence must be proven in order to hold a party liable for your Alabama injury. First, your injury attorney must show that you were owed a legal duty by the plaintiff. For example, if you are driving your vehicle on an Alabama road, other drivers owe a duty of care to you as a fellow motorist.

Second, as plaintiff you must be able to prove that the defendant breached that legal duty. Using the previous driving example, the duty of care owed to you as a driver would be breached if a fellow motorist was driving under the influence of alcohol.

Third, it must be shown that the defendant was the cause of your personal injuries. In the aforementioned driving hypothetical, proving causation in an accident would be easy to do, but proving causation in other personal injury claims can be more nuanced and complex.

Finally, the plaintiff must have incurred actual damages. Physical injuries, lost wages and medical bills are all examples of actual damages suffered.

When all four of these criteria are met, negligence and the duty of care standards may be used to prove fault.

Other Legal Strategies for Proving Fault

A plaintiff may still prove fault in ways other than negligence. Two other ways to prove negligence are:

Two other ways to prove negligence are:

  1. Negligence Per Se
  2. Showing the Injury Claim Is Subject to a Strict Liability Standard

Negligence per se applies if an Alabama statute was inexcusably violated. When a defendant inexcusably violates such a law, they are automatically liable for damages if the plaintiff was a protected class of the statute and the injury was of a type the statute was meant to prevent. To keep with the driving examples, negligence per se would occur if reckless driving — which is a statutory violation — injured a plaintiff who was walking down an Alabama sidewalk.

Strict liability occurs most often in Alabama product liability cases. In these cases, a product manufacturer does not need to be negligent. Rather, the only requirement to prove is that the plaintiff suffered an injury and that the defendant is responsible.

While this summarization is not an exhaustive list of the ways to determine liability in Alabama, it provides a general framework that should help you understand the path towards receiving compensation for your injuries.


The upcoming installment of this Guide to Alabama Injury Law will cover the damages you may be entitled to receive in a winning case. Contact Alabama injury attorney Noel B. Leonard or call 251-943-8638 for a legal consultation with a trusted injury lawyer who fights for your right to receive the compensation you legally deserve.


To learn more about Alabama Personal Injury, review all six parts to this guide:

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