Negligence

In order to prove negligence in Alabama, the plaintiff must prove that a duty existed on the part of the defendant, the defendant breached that duty, the defendant’s breach of duty caused injury, and damages exist as a result of the injury.

Joint & Several Liability

Alabama is considered to be a pure joint and several liability state. This means that each defendant may be held liable for the entire loss although a plaintiff is only entitled to one recovery. The right of action against joint tortfeasors is one and indivisible and fault-based apportionment between tortfeasors is not allowed. Indemnity between joint tortfeasors is not allowed unless a valid indemnification agreement exists.

Damages

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant(s). The award is meant to restore the plaintiff – as much as possible – to the condition they were in prior to the injury occurring.

Compensatory damages include reimbursement for medical bills, mental distress, disfigurement, aggravation of pre-existing injuries, disability, pain and suffering, lost income, etc.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant rather than to compensate the plaintiff. According to Alabama Code 6-11-20(a) (2008), punitive damages may not be awarded in civil actions other than those for wrongful death or “a tort action where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant consciously or deliberately engaged in oppression, fraud, wantonness, or malice with regard to the plaintiff.”

Alabama has a cap on punitive damages in most cases. Where there was no physical injury, punitive damage awards are not to exceed three times (3x) the compensatory damages award, or $500,000, whichever is greater. Where there was a physical injury, punitive damage awards are not to exceed three times (3x) the compensatory damages award, or $1,500,000, whichever is greater.

Subdivision (b) (1) of Alabama Code 6-11-20 defines fraud as “an intentional misrepresentation, deceit, or concealment of a material fact the concealing party had a duty to disclose, which was gross, oppressive, or malicious and committed with the intention on the part of the defendant of thereby depriving a person or entity of property or legal rights or otherwise causing injury.”

Subdivision (b) (2) of Alabama Code 6-11-20 defines malice as “the intentional doing of a wrongful act without just cause or excuse, either: With an intent to injure the person or property of another person or entity, or under such circumstances that the law will imply an evil intent.”

Subdivision (b) (3) of Alabama Code 6-11-20 defines wantonness as “conduct which is carried on with a reckless or conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.”

Subdivision (b) (5) of Alabama Code 6-11-20 defines oppression as “subjecting a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of the person’s rights.”

DISCLAIMER:

The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.

By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Alabama. Should you have a question/concern specific to Alabama law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Alabama.