Car accidents are an unfortunate reality, and when they happen, understanding the legal implications is crucial. In Alabama, car accident laws are in place to help victims seek compensation for their injuries and damages. This article aims to provide an overview of the key elements of car accident law in Alabama, including what needs to be proven in such cases and who can be sued if a settlement isn’t reached with the insurance adjuster.
Alabama follows a fault-based system when it comes to car accidents. This means that the party responsible for causing the accident is also responsible for compensating any injured parties. In order to claim compensation, the injured party (plaintiff) must prove that the other party (defendant) was negligent and that this negligence directly caused the accident and resulting injuries.
To establish negligence, the plaintiff must prove four elements:
- Duty of care: The defendant had a legal responsibility to exercise reasonable care while driving to avoid causing harm to others on the road.
- Breach of duty: The defendant failed to uphold this duty of care by not exercising reasonable caution, such as by speeding, running a red light, or driving under the influence.
- Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the accident and the plaintiff’s injuries.
- Damages: The plaintiff suffered injuries or losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, or property damage, as a result of the accident.
After a car accident, the injured party typically files a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to seek compensation for their damages. An insurance adjuster will then evaluate the claim, which may involve reviewing medical records, examining the accident scene, and interviewing witnesses.
It is important to note that insurance adjusters work for the insurance company and their primary goal is to minimize the amount the company has to pay out. They may offer a settlement that is lower than what the injured party deserves or deny the claim altogether.
If the insurance adjuster’s settlement offer is insufficient or the claim is denied, the injured party should consider hiring a car wreck lawyer. An experienced attorney can help build a strong case, negotiate with the insurance company, and, if necessary, take the case to court to seek the appropriate compensation.
If the insurance adjuster and the car wreck lawyer are unable to reach a fair settlement, the injured party may choose to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. The lawsuit typically names the defendant as the person who caused the accident, and it may also include other parties who contributed to the accident, such as the vehicle manufacturer or a government entity responsible for maintaining the road.
Once the lawsuit is filed, both parties engage in a process called discovery, where they exchange evidence and gather information about the case. During this phase, the plaintiff’s attorney will continue negotiating with the defendant’s insurance company in an attempt to reach a settlement.
If a settlement still cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial, where both car accident attorneys will present their evidence and arguments before a judge or jury. The judge or jury will then decide whether the defendant was negligent and, if so, the appropriate amount of compensation the plaintiff should receive.