Legal Question in Traffic Law in Alabama

accident reports

are both sides of the accident needed on the state troopers report? my side was never inquired about because i was knocked out. also, is there a statute of limitations on how long a victims insurance company can get money out of the other party?the company is trying to get reimbursement from me for the claim they've already paid. is there a time limit? whose fault is it if it happens on a wet road? how does an officer determine that? are wet roads anyone's fault?

Asked on 6/02/00, 2:51 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

David Forrester Forrester & Associates

Re: accident reports

Yes, if at all possible, the Trooper should get both sides, most will wait a few days and or visit the other person in the hospital if necessary. Also, any driver involved in an accident where there is personal injury, or more than $500 in property damage (and some other requirements) must file an SR-13 accident report with the State Department of Transportation within 30 days of the accident. This is an opportunity for you to supply missing information, you can get this form from the investigating officer or your police department. Failure to file this report can result in the lost of your driverís license.

As a general rule there is a two (2) year statute of limitations for Tort (civil wrong such as negligent, reckless, or wanton infliction of harm in a traffic accident). This period begins the day of the accident. As to your insurance company getting reimbursement from you, there is generally a six year period for suits on contracts such as an insurance policy. There is some additional guidance by the State Insurance Commission and it can be found via the Alabama State Web site.

In Alabama a driver is expected to proceed at a reasonable and prudent speed, with the posted speed limit simply being the upper limit under ideal situation. This is pretty much a common sense approach. For example if there is an inch of snow and ice on the interstate, proceeding at the posted limit of 70 miles an hour would probably be determined to negligent, reckless, and perhaps even wanton (wanton is really serious and may justify punitative damages). As to whose fault on a wet road, unfortunately, this is usually the decision of the reporting officer. The officer must use his training, experience, and facts available to him to make this decision. If there is enough money involved, then there is the possibility of the need of expert testimony at trial to either support or attack the officerís decision.

Wet roads and other hazardous conditions place an obligation to act responsibly on all drivers on our roads.

I should address one other legal concept, and that is of contributory negligence. In Alabama, if both parties are at fault in an accident, then neither sides is entitled to a recover anything from the other. This is called contributory negligence.

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Answered on 7/19/00, 6:52 pm

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