What is negligence?
Under Alabama law, a person is negligent if they fail to use an appropriate amount of care that any other sensible person would have used in a similar situation. Basically, if a person doesn’t exercise adequate care and an accident or injury results, that person may be guilty of negligence.
What are the 4 elements needed to prove negligence in a personal injury case?
There are 4 elements necessary to prove negligence in any Alabama personal injury case. They include:
- Duty. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a “duty of care” or responsibility to avoid harming the plaintiff.
- Breach. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant failed to maintain the duty of care.
- Causation. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s failure to maintain their duty resulted in the plaintiff being injured.
- Damages. The plaintiff must prove that due to the defendant’s negligence, they experienced some level of actual harm.
What is burden of proof?
Burden of proof refers to the requirement to prove the facts of a case to a particular level of certainty. In a court case, a fact is not a fact without compelling evidence presented by an attorney that proves the fact exists. Different areas of law require different levels of evidence for the presented fact to be established as a fact.
How is the burden of proof different in criminal cases and personal injury cases?
Criminal cases require prosecutors to prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This requires the prosecutor to lead the jury to develop a “moral certainty” that the fact being presented is, indeed, true.
According to legal experts, this means that a jury has to conclude with 98 to 99 percent certainty that a presented fact is true. The full burden of proof in nearly any criminal case rests on the prosecutor, the person who has brought the charges.
The defendant does not have to convince the court or the jury of their innocence; rather, the prosecutor must convince them of the defendant’s guilt. In the U.S. court system, this is the highest level of burden of proof.
Civil (non-criminal) cases are determined by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the information being presented as fact must be more than likely to be true.
Instead of the near-total certainty that the standard of “beyond reasonable doubt” requires, only 51 percent certainty is required to be considered the preponderance of evidence in civil cases. The civil case standard for burden of proof is far easier to meet than in criminal cases.
Who bears the burden of proof in personal injury cases in Alabama?
In Alabama personal injury cases, the burden of proof usually lies with the injured party, also known as the plaintiff. This means that the plaintiff must prove the facts in the case in a court of law.
There are, however, certain circumstances in which the defendant is also responsible for the burden of proof in a case. For example, during a personal injury case, if the defendant presents a defense that raises questions about the plaintiff’s responsibility in the accident, then the defendant bears the burden of proof as to the facts related to that defense.
An example of this is when the defendant claims that the plaintiff’s own negligence contributed in part to the injuries they received. To illustrate, if the defendant is accused of causing a car accident by speeding, and the defendant claims that the plaintiff was also speeding, then the defendant must prove this assertion.
If the defendant is able to do so, then the plaintiff is guilty of what is known as contributory negligence.
Collecting as much evidence as possible at the beginning of a case greatly increases your chance of success. Find out what documents your attorney needs to help you get maximum compensation.
What is Alabama’s contributory negligence statute, and how does it affect a plaintiff’s ability to recover compensation?
In Alabama, the courts have what is known as a pure contributory negligence statute. It states that if a plaintiff has so much as 1 percent responsibility in causing the accident in which they suffered an injury, they are not entitled to any amount of compensation whatsoever.
What kind of evidence is typically needed to prove negligence in a personal injury case?
As previously mentioned, evidence must be presented to establish the facts of any criminal or personal injury case. The following types of evidence are commonly needed to prove negligence in personal injury cases:
- An incident/police report detailing the accident
- Photos from the accident scene
- Surveillance camera footage
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Testimony from expert witnesses
- Medical records detailing the assessment of the injuries and any treatment
- Employment records documenting time missed following the accident
- Payroll documentation verifying the injured party’s income
Contact an Alabama personal injury attorney to help with your case
Alabama’s contributory negligence statute can make recovering compensation after an accident more complicated. If you’ve been injured in any kind of accident in Alabama, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure your rights are protected.
Even small mistakes shortly after an accident can significantly impact your case, so it’s highly recommended that you contact an attorney as soon as possible so you don’t jeopardize your chance to receive compensation.
At Nomberg Law Firm, our experienced personal injury attorneys have been fighting for the rights of injured Alabamians for more than 50 years. We’ll gather evidence and consult experts in the field to prove your case and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
You can rest easy knowing that we’ll handle all the details so you can focus on your recovery. Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation of your case.
About Nomberg Law Firm
Nomberg Law Firm has been helping people in Alabama recover fair compensation for their injuries since 1967. We know our clients are hard-working men and women who deserve the best representation possible. That’s why we’ve dedicated our entire practice to fighting for your rights after an injury.
The small size of our family-owned firm allows us to focus on our client’s needs and enables us to provide individualized assistance and personal attention that larger firms simply can’t match.