Individuals who are injured in an accident that is the fault of another party are entitled to compensation. This is commonly referred to as “damages”. The injured party (plaintiff) is required to prove the damages sustained from the incident. The standard of proof is higher in Alabama than most other states, however, because of our state’s contributory negligence standard (more on this later).
Compensatory Damages in Alabama Injury Cases
Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the injured party for injuries and other losses that resulted from the incident. These can be divided into two general categories; economic damages and non-economic damages.
These are actual costs incurred by the injured party to make them whole after the accident. Examples may include:
- Medical Expenses: One of the largest expenses an injury victim has to incur is for hospital bills, medical treatment, rehabilitation costs, and ongoing medical costs (if the victim suffers a debilitating injury). In cases when the victim sustains severe and catastrophic injuries, medical expenses can add up to tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Loss of Earnings: When someone is seriously injured in an accident, they often have to miss several days or even several weeks from work to recover. The injured party should be compensated for lost wages, and if the injury is permanent and debilitating, they may also need to be compensated for loss of future earning capacity.
- Property Loss: In many Alabama injury cases, there is also damage done to the injured party’s property. For example, when there is a car accident, the vehicle the injured party was driving is often severely damaged or totaled.
These are damages suffered by the injured party (and their loved ones) that you cannot assign a dollar figure to. Examples may include:
- Pain and Suffering: Injury victims should be compensated for the physical pain they suffer because of their injuries, as well as for psychological distress, such as fear, anxiety, sleepless nights, and similar issues.
- Diminished Quality of Life: Serious injuries often rob victims of the ability to participate in activities they used to enjoy, such as running/walking, exercising, gardening, shopping, or other physical activities. Injured parties should be compensated for the diminished quality of life they experience because of the accident.
- Loss of Consortium: Spouses may be able to pursue their own compensation for loss of consortium in certain cases involving serious injury or wrongful death.
In rare cases in which the reckless actions or omissions of the responsible party were especially egregious, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and help deter them or others from committing similarly egregious acts in the future. Punitive damages are typically only awarded in wrongful death cases, and in cases when the victim sustains serious and catastrophic injuries and it can be clearly proven that the responsible party acted with deliberate recklessness or conscious malice. The state of Alabama has various restrictions on how much a jury can award a plaintiff (or their loved ones) for punitive damages.
Alabama Contributory Negligence Laws
As mentioned earlier, Alabama applies the contributory negligence legal doctrine to personal injury cases. Under this doctrine, plaintiffs can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to have “contributed” in any way to the incident. This means that even if the defendant is 99% at-fault for the incident and the injured party shares only 1% of the blame, they may not be able to recover compensation. With such a high burden of proof to overcome, it is imperative for injury victims to obtain skilled legal representation as soon as possible after the injury. The earlier you can begin putting together your case, the better your chances of securing a successful outcome.
Speak to the Experienced Alabama Injury Lawyers at M. Adam Jones and Associates
If you or someone close to you has been injured because of the negligence or reckless actions of another party, it can turn your whole world upside down. Mounting medical bills and time missed from work can put a severe financial and emotional strain on the entire household. You deserve to be compensated for your losses, but with Alabama’s high standard of proof, you cannot afford to leave the pursuit of your injury claim to chance.
The award-winning attorneys at M. Adam Jones and Associates understand what you are going through, and we have helped countless Alabama injury victims secure full and fair compensation. We have a proven track record of success with even the most complex cases, and we routinely go up against well-funded adversaries such as large corporations and large insurers. Our initial consultations are free, and we accept all personal injury cases on a contingency basis, so you never have to pay upfront attorney fees to receive the skilled and personalized representation you need and deserve.
For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 334-699-5599, or you may send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.