You are on a road trip to visit the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. Everything is going well. The weather is bit rainy, but not too bad. You are traveling up Rt. 65 and are almost to Mooresville and you see traffic is snarled. In our hypothetical journey, there is a terrible accident up ahead like this one reported in July 2017. Tragically, accidents like this happen all the time in Madison County and all over Alabama. See report here from early November 2017.
If you or a family member are injured through no fault of your own in a car wreck, you are entitled to recover money damages for all of your injuries. You should seek advice and legal counsel from experienced and proven auto accident lawyers who know Alabama law. Drivers in Alabama owe various duties to others on the road and to their guests and passengers. Here is what you should know about those duties.
Duty of Care in Huntsville
Alabama law mandates that any driver of a motor vehicle is under a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid inflicting injury and damages upon others who may be lawfully using the same public highway. Likewise, any driver owes the same duty to drive with due care not to inflict injury upon a passenger in the driver’s vehicle.
Alabama law defines “reasonable care” as such care as a reasonably prudent person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances.
Duty to Keep a Lookout in Madison County
In addition, in Madison County, Alabama, a driver is under a duty to keep a lookout for those who are also using the highway and, further, must exercise due care to anticipate the presence of others upon the highway. In other words, if it is dark, a driver must anticipate that there are other cars, trucks, and vehicles on the road. Thus, every driver is duty-bound to keep a lookout for such vehicles and, to thereby avoid accidents and injuries.
In a similar manner, if a driver sees another vehicle or person in a dangerous situation upon a highway, the driver has a heightened duty to exercise due care to avoid. This applies to a vehicle that is not functioning (either in the lanes of traffic or off to the side of the road), people walking along a road, and road repair/grass cutting crews.
Duty to Not Drive While Impaired
It almost goes without saying, but all drivers are duty-bound to not drive while impaired. Most think of this as not driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The duty to drive with due care also applies to driving while drowsy and while using prescription or over-the-counter drugs that might cause impairment. The duty also applies to medical conditions that might cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle or lose consciousness. Under Alabama law, loss of consciousness which causes an accident is not negligence unless the driver had warning symptoms and/or prior knowledge that such a condition of unconsciousness could occur.
Duty to Maintain Your Vehicle in Alabama
Furthermore, every owner or operator of a motor vehicle is duty-bound to make sure that the vehicle is in a reasonably safe condition before driving it. Failure of an owner to keep a car or truck or other vehicle in good working condition can lead to liability for negligence if there is a mechanical failure, which could have been avoided with customary maintenance, and such mechanical failure is the sole proximate cause of the injury or damages.
Duty to be Extra Cautious When Vision Impaired
Weather conditions sometimes obstruct and obscure a driver’s ability to see properly. This can include sunlight very early or late in the day or fog or smoke or slashing heavy rain. Under such conditions, all drivers are duty bound to exercise even more reasonable care, even to the extent of stopping their vehicles until it is safe to proceed.
Heightened Duty of Care: Small Children and the Blind
All Alabama drivers have a heightened duty to drive with due care with respect to small children and those who are blind. With respect to small children, any driver who sees a small child near a roadway must assume the possibility that the small child might suddenly run onto the roadway. Thus, the driver is duty-bound to watch the movements of the child and must take all necessary steps to avoid injuring the child.
Likewise, with respect to the blind, every driver in Alabama who approaches a person who is blind must use every precaution and effort, including coming to a complete stop, if necessary, in order to avoid an accident or injury to such pedestrian.
Breach of This Duty
If any driver breaches or violates any of these duties, said driver can and will be liable for negligence if the violation proximately causes injury or damage.
Contact Our Huntsville, Alabama Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in an automobile accident in Madison County, or anywhere else in Alabama, caused by the wrongful acts and negligence of another driver, contact an experienced Huntsville and Madison County personal injury and accident attorney like the ones at Hornsby, Watson, Hornsby & Heyward. Call today. You can email us or call (256) 414-9803, toll free (866) 986-1371.