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What is contributory negligence?

Motor vehicle accidents can happen for a variety of reasons, from inclement weather to aggressive driving. Whenever an accident occurs, it is important for those harmed by the accident to understand their legal rights when it comes to compensation. This, of course, is the purpose of personal injury and wrongful death litigation.

One of the important points accident victims need to understand about personal injury cases is that there are potential limitations on the ability to receive damages. Specifically, Alabama law recognizes that, in some cases, accidents are caused by the negligence of multiple parties. In some cases, an accident would not have occurred, or wouldn’t have turned out so badly, if it wasn’t for the negligent actions of the victim. 

Under Alabama’s contributory negligence law, a plaintiff seeking damages from a defendant accused of negligence is unable to receive damages if he or she is found to have contributed to the accident by his or her own negligence. Previous court decisions have established that it is not the burden of the plaintiff to disprove accusations of contributory negligence; rather, it is the burden of the defendant to prove that the plaintiff was negligent.

One thing that should be made clear is that contributory negligence is only available as a defense when the defendant is accused of negligence—it is not a defense to “wantonness,” or gross negligence. Plaintiffs who seek damages from a defendant for behavior that rises above simply negligence do not, therefore, have to worry about their own negligence impacting their recovery. 

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"They took a case that others would have stayed clear of.."
I have the utmost respect for Rip Andrews and the lawyers at MRB Law. They took a case that others would have stayed clear of because the issue of state immunity was involved. Through determination and unwavering commitment they were able to a find resolution to an extremely difficult matter.
Nancy Owen
"They took a case that others would have stayed clear of.."
I have the utmost respect for Rip Andrews and the lawyers at MRB Law. They took a case that others would have stayed clear of because the issue of state immunity was involved. Through determination and unwavering commitment they were able to a find resolution to an extremely difficult matter.
Nancy Owen
"They...brought justice to my family through a multi-million dollar verdict ."
These lawyers took a complicated issue, revealed the truth in a way 12 jurors unfamiliar with the topic could understand, and brought justice to my family through a multi-million dollar verdict. They were able to relate my “invisible” medical condition to the jury better than I can to my own friends. And because of that, the jury hugged me and cried with me when it was all over. That meant more to me than any amount of money.
Caroline Malatesta
"They...brought justice to my family through a multi-million dollar verdict."
These lawyers took a complicated issue, revealed the truth in a way 12 jurors unfamiliar with the topic could understand, and brought justice to my family through a multi-million dollar verdict. They were able to relate my “invisible” medical condition to the jury better than I can to my own friends. And because of that, the jury hugged me and cried with me when it was all over. That meant more to me than any amount of money.
Caroline Malatesta
"Our relationship began as strangers but ended in friendship thanks to the compassion he showed ."
I can’t adequately put into words the appreciation I have for Mr. Derrick Mills and MRB Law. He was assertive in his fight for justice for our family during our time of tragedy. Mr. Mills is knowledgeable, passionate and a great communicator. Our relationship began as strangers but ended in friendship thanks to the compassion he showed. Thank you Mr. Mills for being a dedicated professional! Justice done right!
Dana Owens
"Our relationship began as strangers but ended in friendship thanks to the compassion he showed."
I can’t adequately put into words the appreciation I have for Mr. Derrick Mills and MRB Law. He was assertive in his fight for justice for our family during our time of tragedy. Mr. Mills is knowledgeable, passionate and a great communicator. Our relationship began as strangers but ended in friendship thanks to the compassion he showed. Thank you Mr. Mills for being a dedicated professional! Justice done right!
Dana Owens
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