Our Personal Injury and Wrongful Death FAQs
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How long do I have to file a personal injury case?
Alabama, like other states, has a law known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations establishes how long you have to file a lawsuit in the state.
In Alabama, the General Rule Is Two Years
According to the Alabama Statute of Limitations, found in Ala. Code. Sec. 6-2-38, a person who is hurt generally has two years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury claim in state court.
In some cases, however, the statute of limitations may be shorter or longer than two years. For example:
- The time for filing a personal injury case may be extended if the person who was hurt was a minor at the time of the injury. In most cases, a person who was hurt before his 18th birthday will have two years, beginning on his 19th birthday, to file a claim. However, any claim must be brought within 20 years of the incident that caused the injury, and further restrictions apply in some medical malpractice cases.
- The time for filing a personal injury case may be extended if the person who was hurt was incompetent at the time of the injury. The statute of limitations may be extended if the person who was hurt was mentally incompetent or suffered another disability that prevented the person from filing a claim within the typical statute of limitations.
- The time for providing notice of a personal injury case may be shortened if the defendant is a governmental entity. If your claim is against a municipality, the state of Alabama, or the federal government, then you may need to file notice of your claim within six months from the date of the injury.
These exceptions can be complicated, and it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to make sure that your rights are protected.
You Don’t Want to Miss the Deadline
If you miss the statute of limitations for your case, then you are unlikely to recover any damages for your injury. The defendant will file a motion with the court arguing that the case should be dismissed because the statute of limitations has expired—and the judge will agree to that motion. You can avoid this by making sure that you file your case before the statute of limitations expires.
You should never worry that you are contacting a personal injury lawyer too early. The sooner that you contact an attorney, the sooner the attorney can begin preserving evidence and protecting your rights, and the sooner you may recover compensation for your injuries. Accordingly, we encourage you not to wait until you are up against the statute of limitations deadline, and instead, we invite you to contact us today via this website or by phone to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Can I recover damages if I was partly to blame for my accident?
No. Unlike most other states, Alabama follows a legal doctrine known as contributory negligence. According to Alabama law, you cannot recover any damages if you bear any of the responsibility for the incident that led to your injury. For example, if another driver fails to stop at a red light and hits you while you are traveling just seven miles over the speed limit, then you may be unable to make a legal recovery.
This rule is extreme, and it is one of the reasons why it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer if you have been hurt in an Alabama accident.
Different Rules for Children and People Who Are Mentally Incompetent
Contributory negligence generally prevents people who bear any responsibility for their injuries from recovering damages. However, special rules apply to children and people with mental disabilities. Children under the age of seven are presumed not to be negligent and children between the ages of seven and fourteen may be presumed not to be contributorily negligent. Similarly, people with cognitive or mental disabilities may be presumed not to be negligent. Of course, evidence may be submitted to refute these presumptions.
Be Prepared for the Defendant to Argue That You Were Partly at Fault
A defendant only needs to prove that you were one percent responsible for an accident in order to get out of paying any damages. Thus, you can expect that the defendant, the defendant’s lawyer, or the defendant’s insurance company is going to try hard to argue that you bear some legal responsibility for what happened.
You should be prepared for this argument. Strong evidence that clearly establishes liability and persuasive arguments from your own attorney can help you protect your rights and recover the damages to which you are legally entitled. For more information, or to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer directly, please reach out to us via this website or by phone to schedule a free consultation.