On this page, our personal injury lawyers will look at Alabama car accident lawsuits. We will review the key points of law relevant to auto accidents in Alabama and explain the average settlement value of these cases based on prior settlements and verdicts.
Car Accidents in Alabama
Alabama has a population of just over 5 million people, which makes it the 24th largest U.S. state in terms of population. That population is spread over 52 thousand square miles, ranking in the bottom half for population density with 95 people per square mile. There are 5.7 million registered vehicles and 4 million registered drivers in Alabama.
In 2020, there were 159,000 police-reported accidents in Alabama, and 46,800 accidents involved physical injuries to drivers or occupants. There were also 851 fatal crashes, resulting in a total of 928 fatalities on Alabama roadways. That makes Alabama one of the most dangerous states in the country for drivers.
Alabama Auto Accident Laws
Alabama has its own unique laws that apply to auto accidents, including tort law, traffic laws (rules of the road), and insurance laws regulations. Below is a brief outline of all the key Alabama laws in car accident lawsuits.
Alabama 2-Year Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Lawsuits
Alabama has a strict legal deadline on how long you can wait before filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This law is called the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for auto accident lawsuits in Alabama is two years (Ala. Code § 6-2-38). This means that if you want to file a lawsuit to get compensation for injuries in an Alabama car accident, you must do so within two years of the date of the accident. If you don’t file your case within two years, your case will be dismissed.
Alabama Follows Contributory Negligence in Car Accident Cases
Alabama is among the very small minority of states that continue to follow the traditional tort law rule of contributory negligence for resolving cases where the plaintiff is partly at fault. Under Alabama’s contributory negligence rule, if a plaintiff is found to be partially at fault or responsible for causing a car accident, they are completely barred from recovering any damage for their injuries.
For example, let’s say Jack and Jill are in a car accident. Jack is found to be “at fault” for the accident because he failed to yield before making a left turn. Jill is injured in the accident and files a lawsuit against Jack. When the case goes to trial, the Jury finds that Jack was 80% at fault for causing the accident and Jill was 20% at fault. Under contributory negligence in Alabama, Jill will be barred from getting any damages from Jack for her injuries.
Damages Available in Alabama Car Accident Cases
There are no maximum limits or caps on the type and amount of damages a plaintiff can be awarded in an Alabama auto accident lawsuit. Plaintiffs who bring car accident lawsuits in Alabama are entitled to the full spectrum of economic and non-economic tort damages in personal injury cases. These categories of damages in Alabama car accident are listed below:
Lost Income: Plaintiffs are entitled to monetary damages for any lost income or lost wages resulting from injuries they sustain in an auto accident. This includes not just past lost income but also future lost income. For example, if you suffer a permanent injury preventing you from working for the next six months or a year, you would be entitled to lost wages.
Medical Expenses: Car accident plaintiffs in Alabama can get damages for all medical bills and expenses they incur due to physical injuries caused by the accident. This includes literally everything from the cost of the ambulance, hospital stay, medications, doctor visits, physical therapy, and more severe things such as surgery. It also includes both past medical expenses and future medical expenses. Damages are awarded even if these costs are covered by health insurance.
Mental Pain & Suffering: Alabama law allows damages to be awarded for mental pain and suffering related to injuries sustained in a car accident. The more severe and painful the injury, the more compensation a plaintiff can get for pain and suffering. The judge or jury determines pain and suffering damages if a case goes to trial.
Settlement Value of Alabama Auto Accident Cases
The settlement value of an Alabama car accident injury case is based on various factors. The most impactful factor that drives settlement value more than any other is the nature and severity of the plaintiff’s injuries.
More severe injuries involve more medical expenses and more pain & suffering, which equates to a higher settlement value. The chart below shows the average settlement value range of Alabama car accident cases based on the severity level of the plaintiff’s injuries.
|INJURY SEVERITY LEVEL
|LEVEL I (minor)
|$15,000 – $32,000
|LEVEL II (moderate)
|$48,000 – $135,000
|LEVEL III (severe)
|$175,000 – $450,000
Best Venues in Alabama for Car Accident Cases
Another major factor that impacts the settlement value of Alabama car accident cases is what venue or court the case is in. In most personal injury cases, big cities and densely populated urban areas are consistently more plaintiff-friendly. Alabama’s most significant cities and urban areas are Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile.
Huntsville is the biggest of the 4, but the city is spread out over three different counties (Madison County, Limestone County, and Morgan County). Madison County is plaintiff-friendly, but Limestone and Morgan Counties are not. Birmingham has the demographics of a plaintiff-friendly jurisdiction, but again, the urban population is split between Jefferson and Shelby Counties. Jefferson is considered the much better venue for plaintiffs in tort cases. Montgomery is the 3rd biggest city and the state capital, which is entirely within a single county (Montgomery County). Still, it is slightly different demographically from other cities and less favorable to plaintiffs. The city of Mobile is entirely within Mobile County, and this is a consistently plaintiff-friendly venue.
Alabama Car Accident Settlements and Verdicts
Below are recent 2022-2023 verdicts and reported settlements from Alabama car accident lawsuits. These cases are provided for informational purposes only, to give examples of the types of injuries and associated legal damages awarded in Alabama auto accident cases.
- $25,000 Settlement (Calhoun County 2023): The plaintiff, a minor, was a passenger in the back seat of her grandmother’s vehicle and sustained unspecified injuries when the vehicle was in an accident. She filed suit against her grandmother, the at-fault driver, and reached a settlement with the insurance company.
- $100,000 Verdict (Choctaw County 2023): The defendant was driving a camper trailer behind his truck on Alabama Highway 114 when the left tire on the camper trailer came off and struck the plaintiff’s vehicle, resulting in fairly serious Level II injuries. The defendant had minimal insurance, so the plaintiff sought additional UIM damages from his own insurer, Liberty Mutual. Liberty Mutual disputed the validity of the plaintiff’s injuries and took the case to trial, where a jury in Jefferson County sided with the plaintiff.
- $65,000 Verdict (Jefferson County 2023): A teenager was driving his father’s vehicle when he struck the plaintiff’s vehicle from behind on Independence Drive in Homewood, AL. The plaintiff filed suit against the father for negligent entrustment, and the jury awarded $65,000 in damages for unspecified injuries.
- $50,000 Settlement (Madison County 2023): The defendant rear-ended the plaintiff when he was stopped at a red light at the intersection of Jordan Lane and the exit ramp for I-565 in Huntsville, AL. Injuries included a concussion, cervical sprain (whiplash), and persistent headaches with radiating pain to the neck and back. GEICO settled the case for $50,000 before trial.
- $66,000 Verdict (Baldwin County 2023): The defendant negligently caused his vehicle to collide with the plaintiff’s vehicle on AL-181. The accident allegedly aggravated a pre-existing condition of the plaintiff’s neck and shoulders. She settled with the at-fault driver for policy limits and then sought additional damages under her UIM coverage with Safeco Insurance.
- $12,000 Verdict (Jefferson County 2023): The plaintiff slowed down to change lanes on a highway when she was rear-ended by the defendant, who was following too closely. The plaintiff suffered relatively minor soft tissue injuries, and the jury was apparently not very impressed and awarded medical expenses only.
Contact an Alabama Auto Accident Lawyer
Call 800-553-8082 if you are looking to maximize the settlement amount of your Alabama car accident case, or contact us online.