Protect your right to injury compensation. Here’s what you should know about Alabama car accident and injury liability laws.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in the State of Alabama, you may have questions about how the laws will affect your property damage personal injury claim. In this article, we’ll review the laws most commonly associated with car accidents.
You’re entitled to seek injury compensation after a vehicle accident whether you were walking, riding, or driving when you were hit by a negligent driver.
For your convenience, we provide a summary of each law with a direct link to the relevant Alabama statute.
Pedestrian Traffic Laws
Pedestrians and Crosswalks
The driver of a vehicle must stop and yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian has reached the halfway point of the crosswalk, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the crosswalk as to be in danger.
AL Code § 32-5A-211
Restrictions on Pedestrians Crossing Roadways
AL Code § 32-5A-211
Pedestrian Control Signals
Whenever special pedestrian-control signals exhibiting the words or symbols “Walk” or “Don’t Walk” are in place such signals shall indicate as follows:
- “WALK”. Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and must be given the right of way by the drivers of all vehicles.
- “DON’T WALK”. No pedestrian should start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, but any pedestrian who has partially completed his or her crossing on the walk signal must proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while the “Don’t Walk” signal is showing.
- “DON’T WALK” (flashing). No pedestrian should start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, but any pedestrian who has partially completed his or her crossing on the walk signal must proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while the “Don’t Walk” signal is flashing.AL Code § 32-5A-33
Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks
Pedestrians intending to cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.
Pedestrians must use only the marked crosswalk to cross between two adjacent intersections that have traffic-control signals in operation.AL Code § 32-5A-212
Pedestrians on Roadway
Where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon adjacent roadway.AL Code § 32-5A-215
Pedestrians’ Right of Way on Sidewalks
AL Code § 32-5A-218
Drivers to Exercise Due Care
The driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the driver’s horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child.
AL Code § 32-5A-213
Pedestrians Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance
AL Code § 32-5A-221
Alabama Driving Laws
Obedience to Traffic Control Devices
AL Code § 32-5A-31
Driving on Right Side of Roadway
Drivers must drive in the right lane of roadways with the following exceptions:
- When passing another driver in the same direction
- When there is an obstruction in the right lane
- Upon a roadway with three or more lanes of traffic
- Upon a roadway restricted to one way trafficAL Code § 32-5A-80
Passing On the Left
Driver proceeding in the same direction must pass to the left at at a safe distance and shall remain in the passing lane until it is safe to return to the right lane. Drivers being passed must not increase the speed of their vehicle until their vehicle is completely passed by the overtaking car.
AL Code § 32-5A-82
Limitations on Overtaking on the Left
Drivers may drive to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle only if the left side is clearly visible and the overtaking vehicle can return to its lane without coming within two hundred feet of oncoming traffic.
AL Code § 32-5A-84
Passing On the Right
Drivers may pass on the right under the following conditions:
- When the driver about to be passed is about to make a left turn. However, the driver attempting to pass on the right must not do so without driving off the pavement of main-traveled portion of the roadway.
- When the roadway has two (2) or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
- On a one-way street where the roadway is free from obstructions and wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles.AL Code § 32-5A-83
Following Too Closely
A driver must not follow another driver more closely than is “reasonable and prudent”, having due regard for the speed of other drivers and traffic conditions along the roadway.
Except when overtaking and passing another vehicle, the driver of a vehicle must leave a distance of at least 20 feet for each 10 miles per hour of speed between their own vehicle and the vehicle directly ahead of theirs.
A driver who is towing another vehicle that is 25 feet or longer must leave at least 300 feet of space ahead of their vehicle to allow an overtaking vehicle to enter and occupy this space without danger.
AL Code § 32-5A-89
Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices
Drivers must not drive while using a mobile electronic device to write, send or read a text-based message, except for the sole purpose of calling 911. Drivers are permitted to use a mobile electronic device if the vehicle is parked on the shoulder of the roadway, or if the device is a pre-programmed global positioning system (GPS). The driver is not permitted to program GPS coordinates while driving.
AL Code § 32-5A-350
Drivers and Intersections
AL Code § 32-5A-110
Drivers Intending to Turn Left at Intersections
AL Code § 32-5A-111
Drivers Entering or Crossing a Roadway
AL Code § 32-5A-260
AL Code § 32-5A-240
Motorcyclists and Lanes of Traffic
Motorcyclists are entitled to the full use of a traffic lane and drivers must not take any action to deprive a motorcyclist of his or her right to use a full lane on a roadway.AL Code § 32-5A-242
Motorcyclists must not pass another driver in the same lane. Commonly known as “lane splitting,” motorcyclists sometimes attempt to pass other drivers when traffic is slowed, or bumper to bumper. To move forward through traffic motorcyclists sometimes drive between cars. Doing so is not only illegal, but quite dangerous.
AL Code § 32-5A-242
AL Code § 32-5A-245
Motorcycles and Headlights
AL Code § 32-5-240
Driving Offenses and Accident Rules
AL Code § 32-5A-190
Alcohol and Minors
AL Code § 32-5A-191
Driver’s Duty to Give Information and Render Aid
A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person, including other drivers, passengers, and/or passersby must give their name, address and the registration number of the car they are driving and must upon request, exhibit their driver’s license to any person injured in the accident, or to the driver, passengers, and/or police officers investigating the accident.
Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
AL Code § 32-10-2
Accidents Involving Death, Personal Injury, or Substantial Bodily Injury
A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person must immediately stop and remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Section 32-10-3.
Section 32-10-3 reads in part that the driver must give their name, address and the registration number of the car they are driving, and must upon request exhibit their driver’s license to any person injured in the accident or to the driver of the car involved in the accident.
AL Code § 32-10-1
Accidents Involving Only Damage to Another Car or Property
A driver involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property or another car which is driven or attended by any person must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Section 32-10-2.
AL Code § 32-10-2
Accidents Involving Damage to Unattended Car or Unattended Property
A driver who collides with a parked car or who collides with other property which is unattended must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must attempt to locate and notify the driver or owner of the damaged car or damaged property.
Once located the driver who caused the accident must give the name and address of the car owner and its driver. If the driver or owner of the damaged car or property cannot be located, the driver who caused the accident must attach a written note to the damaged property in a conspicuous place giving their name and address and the registration number of their car.
AL Code § 32-10-3
Driver’s Duty to Notify Police Department
AL Code § 32-10-5
Accident Reports Filed By Police Departments
AL Code § 32-10-7
Accident Report Forms
The director must prepare and upon request supply to police departments, coroners, sheriffs, garages, and other suitable agencies or individuals, uniform accident report forms.
The required written accident report must require sufficiently detailed information about the location of the accident, probable cause, injuries to persons, property damage, deaths of persons, the registration of vehicles involved including license numbers, the name, address, and driver’s license number of the operator, highway design and maintenance, including lighting, markings, and road surface, and the names and addresses of any witnesses.
AL Code § 32-10-8
Open Alcohol Container Law
A driver or passenger must not be in possession of an opened container of an alcoholic beverage or consume a controlled substance while the car is traveling on Alabama roadways.
An opened alcoholic beverage container must be kept only in an area of a vehicle that is inaccessible to the driver. In the case that the driver does not have knowledge of and cannot access alcoholic beverages in an open container in the passenger area of the vehicle, it is not illegal to have an open alcohol container.AL Code § 32-5A-190
Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance
A driver must not drive after drinking an alcoholic beverage or consuming an intoxicant in an amount which renders the driver incapable of driving safely along roadways.AL Code § 32-5A-330
Ignition Interlock Device
A driver who is guilty of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant might be ordered to have installed at his or her own expenses an ignition interlock device.
The ignition interlock device will serve to restore the driver’s driving privileges during the pendency of the driver’s probation. If an ignition device is installed, it must be installed in every car owned or operated by the driver.
An ignition interlock is a device which measures any amount of alcohol contained in a driver’s body. Before starting the car the driver must blow into a tube emanating from the ignition interlock device.
If the device then detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than is permitted by law the car will not start and the violation will be reported to the prosecutor, the probation officer, and/or the judge.AL Code § 32-5A-191
Alabama Liability Laws
Alabama Dram Shop Law
Alabama has a modified Dram Shop Law. Dram Shop Law refers to the liability of private social hosts, bars, hotels nightclubs and other commercial establishments who serve alcohol to patrons or to minors for injuries intoxicated patrons or minors cause to third parties such as in car accidents.
A private social host is the host at a private party, such as a wedding reception, a corporate sponsored event, a gathering of friends at a private residence, where alcohol is served not for profit.
For an injured third party to succeed in a claim for personal injuries or property damage against a commercial establishment or social host, the injured third party must file a lawsuit alleging the illegal sale or disposition of alcohol by the establishment or the social host.AL Code § 6-5-71
AL Code § 6-5-72
Financial Responsibility Car Insurance Minimum Limits
In the State of Alabama, each motor vehicle must be covered by an insurance policy that includes liability coverage of the following amounts for all damages resulting from an accident:
- At least $25,000 per person
- At least $50,000 for two or more people
- $25,000 per occurrence for property damageAL Code § 32-7-22
For more information on Alabama insurance requirements, see the state’s Be Sure to Insure page.
Liability & Negligence
In Alabama, the victim in a car accident can sue the negligent driver for compensation. The victim’s liability in causing the accident, their contributory negligence, affects whether the victim receives any compensation.
If the victim contributed even 1% of the negligence that caused the accident, then the victim is barred from receiving any compensation.
Example of Liability & Negligence
One morning, Jackson was driving north on his way to work. At an intersection, he pulled into the left turn lane. At the same time, Melanie approached the intersection from the opposite direction. Suddenly, Jackson turned left into Melanie’s lane and their cars collided.
Melanie sustained serious brain injuries and damage to her car, totalling in $100,000 dollars worth of damages.
After their investigation, the police determined that Jackson had failed to yield according to traffic laws. A pedestrian witness told police he saw Melanie texting at the time Jackson’s car crashed into Melanie’s. As a result, the police issued Melanie a citation for using a mobile device while driving.
Melanie sued Jackson for $100,000 and claimed he was 100% at fault for the accident because he did not yield to her right-of-way. At trial, the jury found Jackson liable for failing to yield the right-of-way. However, the jury also found Melissa liable for using a mobile device while driving and partially responsible for the accident.
The verdict stated Jackson’s negligence equaled 70% of the accident, and Melanie’s equaled 30%. Melanie was barred by law from receiving any compensation for the damages.
Alabama’s Fault-based Car Insurance
In Alabama, legal responsibility (fault) for a car accident dictates who can sue for compensation. A person who suffered personal or property damage as a result of a car accident has three options to pursue compensation:
- File a claim with their own insurance company
- File a claim with the insurance company of the person at fault for the accident
- File a lawsuit against the person at fault for the accident
For information about Alabama’s fault-based (tort) system, see the Alabama Department of Insurance website.
Statute of Limitations
Alabama has a two (2) year statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims. This means if a driver, passenger, or passerby is injured or sustains property damage at the hands of a negligent driver, the victim must either settle their claim within two (2) years, or file a lawsuit.AL Code § 6-2-38
Small Claims Courts
In Alabama, victims of car accidents can choose to sue the negligent driver in small claims court. The jurisdiction of a small claims court regarding personal injury and property damage is limited to a maximum of $6,000, exclusive of filing fees and court costs.
To submit a claim in small claims court, visit the Alabama State Judiciary website.
Alabama Government Tort Claims – Sovereign Immunity
In Alabama, it is not possible to submit a claim against a governmental agency or its employees for personal injury or property damage as a result of negligence on the part of the governmental agency or its employees.
AL Const. § 14
Additional Alabama Resources
- State Government of Alabama
- Alabama Department of Transportation
- Alabama State Legislature
- Alabama Law Enforcement Agency
- Governors Highway Safety Association
- Alabama Bar Association
- National Conference on State Legislature
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