An accident is traumatic enough.
When you are left injured and you believe the other party was at fault, you may be left feeling overwhelmed and angry when the insurance company tries to shift the blame to you.
Unfortunately, this is a common tactic insurance companies use to take advantage of Alabama’s contributory negligence rule.
A personal injury lawyer in Mobile, AL serves as your advocate to not only guide you through the legal process but defend you against claims that you are to blame. Here is what you should know about liability and contributory negligence in Alabama and how the personal injury lawyers at Lattof & Lattof, P.C. can help.
Contributory Negligence in Alabama
Alabama is one of just a few states that has a contributory negligence law. Under this rule, injured parties are barred from recovering any compensation if they were at all to blame for an accident or contributed to their injuries.
Crucially, this rule means that you will not be able to recover anything if the other party convinces a jury that you were even 1% at fault.
In many other states, a less harsh “comparative negligence” system is used. Under this system, you can still recover for your injuries, even if you are partially to blame, but your recovery is reduced by your share of fault.
The contributory negligence rule is often abused by insurance companies who try to shift even a small amount of blame to injury victims. The insurance company will try to put a lot of weight on your actions, no matter how minor, while minimizing the fact that their client was largely to blame.
This contributory negligence rule makes it crucial for injury victims to seek experienced legal counsel as soon as possible.
To recover the compensation you need for your injuries, you must prove liability while also defending claims that you contributed to your accident. An experienced Alabama personal injury lawyer will help you protect your legal rights and aggressively fight for maximum compensation.
How the Insurance Company Will Try to Shift Blame to You
Insurance companies employ teams of lawyers and claims adjusters who work full-time to evaluate claims. Their goal is to minimize payouts and deny claims whenever possible. When you are involved in a car accident or slipped and fell on someone’s property, you can often count on the insurance company attempting to shift at least some of the blame to you through various means.
This is a popular strategy in Alabama, one of just a few states to use contributory negligence. Because even 1% of blame assigned to you lets the insurance company off the hook, you can bet they will do what they can to succeed.
The insurance company may start by simply trying to convince you that your claim has no value because you played some role. Do not let the insurance company be the final word: make sure an experienced personal injury lawyer evaluates your case and helps you assess legal options.
If the insurance company can’t prove you shared liability through evidence, they may attack your credibility. They may try to use your words against you or trick you into stating you are partially to blame in a casual conversation that is recorded. They can even claim you contributed to your injuries by not wearing a seatbelt.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help If You’re Being Blamed for an Accident
There are many ways in which the Alabama personal injury lawyers at Lattof & Lattof, P.C. will protect you against claims that you were partially at fault for your accident.
Your personal injury lawyer will help you avoid damaging your claim inadvertently. This can be easy to do when you speak with the insurance company or claims adjuster yourself. Your lawyer will make sure you are not caught off guard and make any statements that could hurt your claim such as apologizing or providing a statement before discussing it with your legal counsel.
The most crucial way in which your personal injury lawyer will help is by gathering evidence that can be used to conclusively show liability. When liability is contested or you are facing blame, it’s important to choose an injury lawyer who will leave no stone unturned.
All types of evidence in your case will be analyzed including:
- Whether citations were issued
- Police report or incident report
- Witness statements
- Road and weather conditions
- Vehicle placement
- Photos and videos of the scene of the accident
- Statements made by the other party
- Onboard vehicle data
- Surveillance footage
Accident reconstruction can be invaluable in proving liability and ensuring blame is not shifted unfairly to you. Your lawyer will work with forensic experts to gather and analyze evidence and draw conclusions about exactly how the accident happened and to what degree each factor contributed to the accident.
During an initial investigation into your accident, the investigator will visit the scene and gather data, take witness statements, review the vehicles, and document the roadway conditions. This data will be analyzed to help the investigator form hypotheses which are tested with software and models to eliminate or reinforce each one. The investigator will then present an expert opinion and provide evidence about who is liable.
Your personal injury lawyer will also help you avoid pressure to settle too soon or for too little. The insurance company will use many tactics to get you to settle, sometimes by telling you that you are partially at fault and unlikely to win. Their low settlement offer may be presented as the best you will ever get.
Contact an Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer
Insurance companies use contributory negligence in Alabama to their advantage. Even if the insurance company is claiming you share fault, do not give in without consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Alabama.
The Mobile personal injury attorneys at Lattof & Lattof, P.C. has more than a century of combined experience representing Alabama injury victims and navigating Alabama’s notorious contributory negligence rule. Contact our law firm today to schedule a free consultation to review your case and discuss strategies to strengthen your claim.