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ALABAMA STATUTES

Alabama’s Motor Vehicle Safety-Responsibility Act (the “Act”) de

(a) A “motor vehicle liability policy,” as the term is used in this chapter, means an owner’s or an operator’s policy of liability insurance, certified as provided in Section 32-7-20 or Section 32-7-21 as proof of financial responsibility, and issued, except as otherwise provided in Section 32-7-21, by an insurance carrier duly authorized to transact business in this state, to or for the benefit of the person named in the policy as insured.

(b) The owner’s policy of liability insurance:

(1) Shall designate by explicit description or by appropriate reference all motor vehicles to be insured; and

(2) Shall insure the person named in the policy and any other person, as insured, using any motor vehicle or motor vehicles designated in the policy with the express or implied permission of the named insured, against loss from the liability imposed by law for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of such motor vehicle or motor vehicles within the United States of America or the Dominion of Canada, subject to limits exclusive of interest and costs, with respect to each such motor vehicle, as follows: $20,000 because of bodily injury to or death of one person in any one accident and, subject to the limit for one person, $40,000 because of bodily injury to or death of two or more persons in any one accident; and $10,000 because of injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident.

(c) The operator’s policy of liability insurance shall insure the person named as insured in the policy against loss from the liability imposed upon him or her by law for damages arising out of the use by him or her of any motor vehicle not owned by him or her, within the same territorial limits and subject to the same limits of liability as are set forth above with respect to an owner’s policy of liability insurance.

(d) The motor vehicle liability policy shall state the name and address of the named insured, the coverage afforded by the policy, the premium charged for the policy, the policy period, and the limits of liability and shall contain an agreement or be endorsed that insurance is provided under the policy in accordance with the coverage defined in this chapter for bodily injury and death or property damage, or both, and is subject to all the provisions of this chapter.

(e) The motor vehicle liability policy need not insure any liability under any workmen’s compensation law nor any liability on account of bodily injury to or death of an employee of the insured while engaged in the employment, other than domestic, of the insured, or while engaged in the operation, maintenance, or repair of any motor vehicle nor any liability for damage to property owned by, rented to, in charge of or transported by the insured.

(f) Every motor vehicle liability policy shall be subject to the following provisions which need not be contained in the policy:

(1) The liability of the insurance carrier with respect to the insurance required by this chapter shall become absolute whenever injury or damage covered by the motor vehicle liability policy occurs. The policy may not be cancelled or annulled as to that liability by any agreement between the insurance carrier and the insured after the occurrence of the injury or damage. Any statement made by the insured or on his or her behalf and any violation of the policy shall not defeat or void the policy.

(2) The satisfaction by the insured of a judgment for injury or damage shall not be a condition precedent to the right or duty of the insurance carrier to make payment on account of injury or damage.

(3) The insurance carrier shall have the right to settle any claim covered by the policy, and if the settlement is made in good faith, the amount of the settlement shall be deductible from the limits of liability specified in subdivision (2) of subsection (b) of this section.

(4) The policy, the written application for the policy, if any, and any rider or endorsement which does not conflict with this chapter shall constitute the entire contract between the parties.

(g) Any policy which grants the coverage required for a motor vehicle liability policy may also grant any lawful coverage in excess of or in addition to the coverage specified for a motor vehicle liability policy, and the excess or additional coverage shall not be subject to this chapter. With respect to a policy which grants any excess or additional coverage, the term “motor vehicle liability policy” shall apply only to that part of the coverage which is required by this section.

(h) Any motor vehicle liability policy may provide that the insured shall reimburse the insurance carrier for any payment the insurance carrier would not have been obligated to make under the terms of the policy except for this chapter.

(i) Any motor vehicle liability policy may provide for the prorating of the insurance by its terms with other valid and collectible insurance.

(j) The requirements for a motor vehicle liability policy may be fulfilled by the policies of one or more insurance carriers which policies together meet the requirements for a policy.

(k) Any binder issued pending the issuance of a motor vehicle liability policy shall be deemed to fulfill the requirements for a policy.icy with the e

Alabama Guest Passenger Statute is one of four states (Illinois, Indiana and Nebraska) that have enacted such a statute, but Alabama’s is bar far the broadest in scope.  The Alabama Guest Statute reads as follows: 

[T]he 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 responsible for the operation of said motor vehicle.  Ala. Code Section 32-1-2. 

The statute does not define “guest”.  As a result, Alabama courts have defined the term.  Generally, “if the transportation of a rider confers a benefit only on the person to whom the ride is given, and no benefits other than such as are incidental to hospitality, goodwill or the like, on the person furnishing the transportation, the rider is a guest; but if his carriage tends to promote the mutual interest of both himself and driver for their common benefit, thus creating a joint business relationship between the motorist and his rider, or where the rider accompanies the driver at the instance of the latter for the purpose of having the rider render a benefit or service to the driver on a trip which is primarily for the attainment of some objective of the driver, the rider is a passenger and not a guest.  Cash v. Caldwell, 603 So.2d 1001, 1003 (Ala.1992)(quoting Wagnon v. Patterson, 70 So.2d 244, 249 (Ala. 1954). 

The passenger’s classification as a guest or passenger is determined at the beginning of the journey.  See Coffey v. Moore, 948 So.2d 544, 548 (Ala. 2006).   

Alabama’s Last Clear Chance Doctrine states a plaintiff that is guilty of contributory negligence may not be denied recovery when the defendant fails to avoid harming him when the defendant has the last clear chance to avoid such injury.  Stanford v. St. Louis & S.F.R.R., 50 So. 110 (Ala. 1909). 

Alabama’s Sudden Emergency Doctrine states that when a motorist is faced with an emergency situation by no fault of his own, he is not held to the same correctness of judgment and action if he had the time and opportunity to fully consider the situation.  Gleichert v. Stephens, 280 So.2d 776, 777 (Ala. 1973)The sudden emergency doctrine does not apply if the sudden emergency was the fault of the person seeking to invoke the doctrine.  See Waters v. Williams, 821 So.2d 1000 (Ala. Civ. App. 2001). 

 
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