Personal Injury Lawyers in Alabama Answers: “How much is my case worth?”
Part Two (2)
We are glad that you have joined us for this informative discussion regarding important factors that impact the value of your case. We are always available to answer your specific questions.
- The conduct of the parties can greatly impact the value of a case or claim. The conduct of the parties involved in the accident and injury resolves issue of liability. The fault or liability of the person or entity causing the injury must be proven. Alabama recognizes negligent and wanton conduct in personal injury and accident cases. Negligence involves the simple breach of a duty that results in an accident. Wanton conduct involves reckless behavior.
In general a clear liability case can be more valuable than a case where liability or fault is not clear. An example of a clear liability case is a situation where an injury victim is seated in their vehicle legally at a stop light and rear-ended by the driver of another automobile. If liability or fault is unclear, that can reduce the value of the claim. An example of an unclear liability case is a t-bone automobile wreck where a person traveling by car through an intersection and claims to have the instruction of a green traffic light indicating it is safe to do so and another party is at the same time driving their vehicle attempting to navigate a left turn and claims to have a green arrow signaling for their ability to safely turn left. There are no witnesses or video to rely on other than the drivers.
As a general rule if a party engages in wanton conduct that causes an accident that leads to an injury, the case will potentially be more valuable than a case of simple negligence. An example of wanton conduct is an intoxicated commercial truck driver that causes an automobile wreck while texting and speeding through a school zone to run a red light after driving over the prescribed number of hours in a given time period. An example of simple negligence is a rear-end collision where a driver approaches an intersection going about five miles an hour over the speed limit in an effort to beat a yellow light and make it through an intersection before red not maintaining a safe distance from the driver of the vehicle directly ahead that stops to avoid running a red light.
Another area related to the conduct of the parties that can impact the value of a claim is contributory negligence. Alabama recognizes the oppressive principle of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence can operate as a complete bar to recovery for the injured in Alabama. This theory provides that if an injured’s own conduct contributes to the accident, they are barred from recovery. Examples of contributory negligence in the context of an automobile accident are speeding, driving while impaired and driving an unmaintained vehicle. The last clear chance doctrine is another principle of Alabama Law related to the conduct of the parties that can impact the value of a claim. The last clear chance doctrine allows an injury victim that has engaged in negligent conduct that contributed to their accident to escape the oppressive result of contributory negligence if the other party had the last clear chance to avoid the accident and failed to do so. To demonstrate this principle, we will use a commercial truck wreck case where the driver of a car rolls very slowly through a stop sign into an intersection only to face an oncoming speeding trucker in a big rig that was unable to break in time or swerve to avoid the wreck due to texting. However, the trucker had the last clear chance to avoid the crash and failed to do so.
We hope this has been a helpful discussion for you. If this has prompted questions, we are here for you. Please, join us in part three (3) of this series regarding factors that impact the value of your case.
Aaron Gartlan is a graduate of Troy University and the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law who focuses his practice exclusively on representing those injured by the wrongdoing of others. He is member of the National Trial Lawyers Association’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. In addition to his legal practice, Aaron teaches Business Law as an adjunct instructor at Troy University’s Sorrell College of Business and serves as a field artillery sergeant in the Alabama National Guard.