Killed while changing a flat tire...

by Beth
(Mesa, AZ,USA)

I have a question about my daughter's father who was killed in a traffic accident in Alabama. The decedent was changing a flat tire when he was hit by a motorist and thrown from the immediate scene. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. The driver was only 18, and a year prior had hit a semi-truck.

A witness claims the decedent did not use any flashers and he was not pulled all the way off the road. The witness also placed another vehicle approaching opposite the driving car, preventing a lane change to avoid the accident (this was not present in police report or accident diagram). All this info from the witness was noted from her rear view mirror.

No blood or alcohol testing was performed. In fact, police were not present at the scene until 45 mins after the wreck. No other obstructions were noted on the rural four lane roadway. Google earth shows the road in a straight path. It was approximately 3pm on a clear day. Nonetheless, the decedent was named at fault.

An attorney declined this case. With AL following the contributory negligence rule, is there any other recourse? There was no will. His status was single. We never married, but have a 24yr old daughter, who is the next of kin. We both live in AZ.

I also want to know if the auto insurance pays regardless of who was at fault? What if both parties are at fault? Thank you for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Killed while changing a flat tire...":

Beth (Mesa, AZ,USA):

Unfortunately, the State of Alabama is a "Pure Contributory Negligence" State. This means if the victim is found to have contributed even in the slightest amount to his or her injury, that victim is not entitled to ANY compensation from the party who caused the injury.

Pure contributory negligence is the most harsh of the comparative and contributory laws. It differs from other contributory negligence state laws which follow the 50% and 51% rules. Under those rules, a victim may be entitled to an amount of compensation as long as his or her contribution to the injury was not over 50% or 51%, depending upon the state.

Arizona has a 2 year statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims. If the death occurred within the last 2 years, the decedent's family still has time to file a lawsuit. To do so, you or the decedent's family will have to find conclusive evidence showing the decedent did not contribute to his own death in any way.

Hire a private investigator. Let the investigator track down the driver and the witnesses. There may be more witnesses you aren't aware of. If the investigator secures proof the decedent didn't contribute to his death, an attorney will be much more likely to accept the case.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

P.S. Please help us out by sharing this site...

Click here to post comments

Return to Car Accident Death Questions

How Much Is Your Claim Worth?

Find out now with a FREE case review from an attorney...

How Much Are Your
Injuries Worth?

Find out with a
free attorney review: