The Legal Examiner Affiliate Network The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner search instagram avvo phone envelope checkmark mail-reply spinner error close The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner
Skip to main content

From time to time, I'm sure you have seen various laws which are absolutely ludicrous, but they have nothing to do with our everyday lives. But, Alabama has two laws on the books which would surprise most people, AND the use of these laws arise fairly frequently regarding car accidents.

What are they? One is commonly referred to as the Alabama Guest Passenger Statute. The other involves the involuntary loss of consciousness of a driver. The first is a statutory provision. The second has essentially been adopted through case law.

So, what is the Guest Passenger Statute? Read it here:

Section 32-1-2

Liability for injury or death of guest.

The owner, operator, or person responsible for the operation of a motor vehicle shall not be liable for loss or damage arising from injuries to or death of a guest while being transported without payment therefor in or upon said motor vehicle, resulting from the operation thereof, unless such injuries or death are caused by the willful or wanton misconduct of such operator, owner, or person responsible for the operation of the motor vehicle.

(Acts 1935, No. 442, p. 918; Code 1940, T. 36, §95.)

Alabama is about the only State in the U.S. which still has this statute. So, if you are riding with someone and that someone runs a red light or is speeding and has an "accident", they are not liable to you unless you conferred some benefit on them, i.e.: paid for their gas or promised them something for the ride. Or, if you can show they were wanton in their driving, i.e.: had been drinking and driving. In fact, if you have your own uninsured motorist coverage policy, it will not cover you either.

Now, on the sudden loss of consciousness, our courts have held as follows:

An involuntary and unforeseeable loss of consciousness constitutes an affirmative defense to negligence and wantonness claims based on an automobile accident. See Walker v. Cardwell, 348 So.2d 1049 (Ala. 1977).

So, just as happened to a client of mine recently, if a person is driving on the highways of our State and passes out, they are not liable unless they had reason to know they were likely to lose consciousness. This makes a lot of sense. The person who is injured as a result of the person passing out did absolutely nothing wrong, and yet, even if the person who lost consciousness has insurance, that person is not at fault, and their insurance will not cover the wreck (nor will your insurance cover your injuries). So, next time you have a wreck, pretend like you passed out, and you won't be at fault (that is sarcasm, but it shows the idiocy of the law).

What do you think? Are these laws ridiculous to you, or do you think they make sense?

Comments for this article are closed.