You were injured in an accident in Alabama, and another party caused the accident. Your injury affects your ability to work and to live your life in the manner you did before the accident.
You have a slam-dunk case for a personal injury claim, correct?
In Alabama, the answer to that question is a firm “maybe.” The laws and statutes regarding personal injury claims in our state vary in some instances from other states. Knowledge of Alabama personal injury law is key to understanding whether to move forward with a claim.
That’s why you should consult a personal injury attorney with knowledge of Alabama’s complicated legal system. At Hornsby Watson Hornsby, our attorneys have decades of personal injury claim and trial experience.
Here are a few of the facts to know when considering a personal injury claim in Alabama:
Filing a formal claim: You should understand what constitutes the filing of a formal claim in a personal injury case. This is an administration process that precedes the filing of a lawsuit. If you fail to complete this step, it may prevent you from filing a lawsuit down the road.
Statutes of limitation: The time frame in which you can file a personal injury claim in Alabama depends upon who caused the accident. The statute of limitation on filing claims against private individuals is two years. For a minor, the two years starts after they turn 19. But if the party who injured you is acting in the capacity of an employee or agent of a state, federal or municipal body, a formal complaint must be filed within six months of the accident. Claims against a county must be filed within a year. Claims against the federal government must be filed within two years of an accident; if a claim is denied, you have six months to file a lawsuit.
Contributory negligence: Alabama is one of just a few states that still follows a contributory negligence rule. This means if you are found in any way responsible for the accident that caused the injury for which you brought the claim, you will not be awarded compensation. This is a reason to consider settling a claim, but keep in mind insurance adjusters will introduce this topic for leverage in settlement negotiations.
Limits on compensation: Other than punitive damages, there is no limit in Alabama on compensation for damages in injury cases against a private individual. To be awarded punitive damages, you must prove the defendant acted with deliberate or conscious malice. If deliberate or conscious malice is established, the limit on recovery is the larger of three times compensatory damages – or $1,500,000. Alabama sets an absolute limit of $100,000 for municipal (city, town or county) liability in personal injury cases.
Dog bites: This is another instance in which Alabama law differs from other states. Most states have a “one-bite” rule, which means a dog owner is protected from liability the first time a dog bites if the owner had no reason to think the dog would bite someone. In Alabama, a dog owner is “strictly liable” even if the dog has never bitten before. Read more about dog bite laws in Alabama on our blog page.
Understanding Alabama personal injury law is vital in to making a decision on whether to file a claim. Call Hornsby Watson Hornsby for a free consultation, and our attorneys will help you understand the law so you can make an informed decision regarding your personal injury claim.