Articles Tagged with Alabama

       There are serious legal liabilities that can come with gun ownership and use, especially anytime a firearm injures another person—whether it was done intentionally or even accidentally.  If one person intentionally shoots another without legal justification, they can face criminal charges ranging from assault to murder, and may face serious jail time or worse.  However, the shooter may also face civil liability for an intentional shooting.  If the victim survives the shooting, the shooter may be forced to compensate the victim for medical expenses, lost wages, physical pain and suffering, and mental anguish. revolver_MJtlBX5_-1024x1024 The shooter may also be forced to pay punitive damages or additional money paid to the victim to punish the defendant shooter and make an example out of them for the community at large.  If the victim is killed, their family or next of kin may bring a wrongful death claim against the shooter to seek compensation for the loss of their loved one and to punish the defendant shooter for taking another human life.

       A shooter can also face hefty civil liability if they accidentally shoot another person—whether the shooting occurred because the gun was fired when they did not mean to shoot it, or in a situation where they intended to fire the gun, but hit the wrong target.  The victim of an accidental shooting has the right to sue the defendant shooter for monetary compensation for their injuries, just like in the case of an intentional shooting, but may only seek punitive damages under specific circumstances.  If the defendant shooter “wantonly” fired the gun, meaning that they did not mean to harm someone, but fired the gun with a reckless or conscious disregard for the possibility that someone could be injured, then the shooter could be forced to pay punitive damages to their victim.  If a person is killed because of an accidental shooting, then their family or next of kin would have the right to bring a wrongful death claim against the defendant shooter, just the same as with an intentional shooting.

       Most liability insurance companies do not provide insurance coverage for criminal acts, so in the case of an intentional shooting, the victim or their family are often forced to seek compensation from the shooter’s personal assets.  In the event that a shooting is unintended or accidental, a liability insurance policy – such as a homeowner’s insurance policy – may provide coverage to a victim.  Please keep in mind that some liability policies may not provide coverage for injuries resulting from the ownership or use of a firearm even in the event of an accident.  As such, gun owners should review the terms of their liability policy with their insurance agent and purchase an additional cover rider if necessary.

Boat in Water

       In Alabama, as in most states, the law that controls a claim for compensation for injuries will differ significantly depending on whether a person is injured on land or on water.  Most claims for injury on land are based on the theory of common law negligence or the failure to exercise reasonable care.   Although some claims for injuries on a waterway may be based on negligence, in many instances they are   controlled by specific statutes that comprise admiralty law.

       There are several key differences between a person’s rights in a common law negligence case and an admiralty law case. For instance, under the common law, Alabama applies the doctrine of contributory negligence, meaning that if you contribute to the cause of an injury, no matter how slightly, you are barred from any recovery.  Comparative negligence applies in Admiralty law cases so fault is apportioned between the parties. If one person is 10% at-fault, they can still recover 90% of the damages they suffered.  It is also significantly more difficult to bring a wrongful death action under admiralty law versus common law.  Another key difference between a motor vehicle collision under common law and a boat collision under admiralty law is that “guest statutes” such as the Alabama Guest Statute have been found not to apply.  In addition, common law motor vehicle injury cases in Alabama are governed by a two year statute of limitations, while an Admiralty boat collision case would have a three year statute of limitations in which to file a lawsuit.

       Although Alabama has adopted a Mandatory Automobile Liability Insurance Act, there is no requirement that an operator of a boat have liability insurance.  A person with a boating license may operate a watercraft at 12 years old so long as they are supervised by a person over 21 years old.  A 14 year old person with a license can operate a watercraft unsupervised.

According to Alabama Code § 32-5A-350, it is against the law to use a cellular telephone or other similar device to send or receive text based communications, including text messages, instant or direct messages, pictures, and electronic mail while operating a motor vehicle on a public road, street, or highway.  The penalty is $25.00 for a first violation, $50.00 for a second violation, and $75.00 for a third or subsequent violation.

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Violation of the statute can be the primary or sole reason for being stopped by a law enforcement officer.  This means that a law enforcement officer can stop a motorist for texting and driving without witnessing any other moving violation. If someone is texting and driving, an officer can stop that driver and issue a ticket, even if the driver is following all of the other rules of the road at the time.

Although texting is illegal, the statue allows the user of a device to “read, select, or enter” a telephone number in a device for the purpose of making a call while driving.  The statute also allows for the sending and receiving of messages with voice operated devices when driving an automobile. Continue reading