A negligent driver hits and injures you. You begin to heal, but the medical bills start to pile up. You never thought that you’d sue anyone, but you realize that a personal injury lawsuit is the only way to cover your medical bills.
But in a personal injury lawsuit, time is of the essence. You have to act quickly to protect your rights. If you want to know how long you have to file an Alabama personal injury lawsuit, read on.
When should I file an Alabama personal injury lawsuit?
Let’s begin by covering a few things about personal injury claims.
In a personal injury claim, the person who was injured needs to prove that the other driver was careless, or as lawyers say, negligent. Then, you will need to prove that the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries. You’ll also need to prove that you were not negligent in any way. Because Alabama follows the contributory negligence rule, if you were even one percent at fault in the accident, you will have difficulty recovering damages.
Personal injury claims can end in several ways. Some end shortly after filing an insurance claim. However, if the insurance company denies your insurance claim, the other driver says that the accident was your fault, or the insurance company doesn’t offer a settlement sufficient to cover your medical bills, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit.
In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured person (the plaintiff) asks their attorney to file special paperwork with the court. This paperwork, called a complaint, lays out how the plaintiff was injured, why the other driver (the defendant) was responsible for causing those injuries, and how much compensation the plaintiff needs.
Do I need to hire an attorney to file an Alabama personal injury lawsuit?
The law does not require that you hire a lawyer for a personal injury lawsuit. However, hiring an Alabama personal injury lawyer can help with several issues. An experienced personal injury attorney can
- Give you an accurate estimate of how much your case is worth,
- Help you negotiate a fair settlement,
- Explain why the contributory negligence rule should not apply,
- Make sure your lawsuit is filed in the correct court,
- Deal with the lawyers for the other driver,
- Find expert witnesses to talk about your injuries,
- And much more.
You could handle your case alone, but any expert will tell you that your chances of a favorable outcome are much higher with an experienced personal injury lawyer by your side.
How long do I have to file an Alabama personal injury lawsuit?
The answer to this depends on your case. Let’s go over a few examples.
Personal injury lawsuits between private persons or companies– In typical car accidents, truck accidents, and other personal injury lawsuits involving motor vehicles, Alabama law gives the plaintiff two years to file the claim. (Personal injury lawyers call this two-year filing deadline a statute of limitations.) If you don’t file your claim within two years, you forfeit all rights. For example, if you got into an accident on March 1, 2022, you would have to file the lawsuit before March 1, 2024. If you filed the case on March 15, 2024, it would be quickly dismissed. There are some exceptions to this rule, but they are complicated. An Alabama car accident injury attorney can help you with the rules.
Wrongful death claims – Alabama’s two-year statute of limitations also applies to wrongful death claims. However, in Alabama, only a personal representative can file a wrongful death claim. There are special timelines that govern the personal representative process. For example, if the person who passed was a minor (19 or younger in Alabama), the parents must start the personal representative process within six months.
Claims against governments – Maybe you were hit by a city employee. Perhaps the driver who hit you only did so because the county didn’t repair the road. Under Alabama law, if you want to file a personal injury lawsuit against a city, county, or town, you must first file a written notice of claim. For a lawsuit against a city or town, the written notice of claim must be filed within six months of the date of your accident. If you file a personal injury lawsuit against an Alabama county, you must file the notice of claim within one year of your accident.
When should I contact an Alabama personal injury lawyer about my car accident claim?
Alabama law has strict deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits. Two years may seem like a long time, but many things can happen in that time. Witnesses may move, pass away, or simply forget the details of the accident. Also, remember that some Alabama personal injury lawsuits have filing deadlines that are much shorter than two years. For these and other reasons, you should contact a Birmingham personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your car accident.
If you are thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit, please consider Collins Law, LLC. Our personal injury law firm helps clients with car accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, and much more. Our team will work tirelessly to protect your rights and get you the compensation that you deserve. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, contact Collins Law online or call 205-588-1411.