Understanding the Defense of Contributory Negligence in Alabama

Personal injury claims are generally based on someone else’s negligence.  In other words, you are injured because someone else acted negligently and caused you to be injured in some way.  If you can prove your claim, that is – prove that the other person was negligent and caused your injury, then you may be entitled to compensation.  However, what happens if you, the victim, did something to contribute to your injury?

The affirmative defense of contributory negligence

Alabama is one of four states that recognizes contributory negligence as an affirmative defense to a negligence claim.  An affirmative defense is simply a set of facts that the defendant (or the person being sued) claims relieves him of liability.  The defendant must set out these facts at the very beginning of the case.  In Alabama, if it can be shown that you contributed to your injuries somehow, you will not be entitled to any compensation.

Some children can be found contributorily negligent

As with most rules or laws, there are certain exceptions.  In Alabama, the contributory negligence defense does apply to children, but to what degree depends on the child’s age.  For example, a child under the age of 7 cannot be found contributorily negligent.  However, a child between 7 and 14 years of age may be capable of contributory negligence if the defendant can provide evidence that the child “possesses the discretion, intelligence, and sensitivity to danger that an ordinary 14-year-old possesses.”

The disabled are not held to the same standard

Another exception to Alabama’s contributory negligence rule is that a disabled individual is “not held to the same standard of care as persons not suffering from a disability.”  That means a disabled person is only required to exercise the same care “as an ordinarily prudent person with the same infirmity would act under the same or similar circumstances.”

If you have questions regarding contributory negligence, or any other personal injury issues, please contact the experienced attorneys at Means Gillis Law, PC, either online or by calling toll free at (844) 870-1777.

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