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What Is Contributory Negligence in Personal Injury Law? February 28, 2019

Dothan, Houston
What Is Contributory Negligence in Personal Injury Law? , Dothan, Alabama

If you were hurt in an accident you believe occurred due to someone else’s negligence, liability will be a key component of your personal injury claim. This is true in every state, but in Alabama, the law determines whether or not injury victims are entitled to compensation based on the doctrine of contributory negligence. In states that use this system of fault, the process of recovering damages can turn out to be quite challenging. Thus, it’s important to understand exactly what contributory negligence is and how it can influence the outcome of your case.

What Is Contributory Negligence?

Under the legal doctrine of contributory negligence, plaintiffs in a personal injury case are barred from being awarded compensation if they are found to have contributed to their injuries in any way. Damages are not recoverable even if they are only 1% at fault. This is because Alabama law recognizes that in some cases, an accident wouldn’t have taken place or turned out as badly if it weren’t for the victim’s negligence.

What Are Some Examples of Contributory Negligence?

personal injuryContributory negligence has the potential to be a factor in any kind of personal injury case. For instance, if you slip and fall on someone else’s property, you may be partly at fault if there was a warning sign you ignored or your shoes had slippery soles. The property owner may claim the incident wouldn’t have happened had you heeded the warning or worn more appropriate footwear. Another example is if you’re injured in a car accident in which you weren’t wearing a seat belt. Although the seat belt wouldn’t have prevented the collision, it could have lessened your damages. 

When Can Contributory Negligence Be Used as a Defense?

Contributory negligence is only available as a defense option when the defendant has been accused of simple negligence. This means it cannot be used to defend grossly negligent behavior or willful misconduct. In cases involving these elements, injury victims don’t have to be concerned that contributory negligence will affect their recovery. Additionally, the law presumes minors under the age of 14 and individuals with limited competence or mental disabilities are incapable of contributory negligence, so it doesn’t apply to these types of victims. 


Fault is rarely cut and dry in personal injury cases, and many defendants will try to claim contributory negligence as a defense. The Gil Law Firm has a team of skilled and experienced attorneys who can help prove the other party is solely responsible for causing your injuries. They know the stakes are high when you’re facing significant loss after an accident and will work aggressively to protect your right to recover damages. Over the last two decades, countless residents in and around Dothan, AL, have relied on the firm to provide them with quality representation. Call (334) 673-0100 to schedule a review of your case, or visit them online for more information about the expertise they offer in this area of law.

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