Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases
If you sustained an injury caused by a car accident, a dog bite, or a fall, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim for compensation for damages. But, in order to do so, you must file your case with the appropriate court within the prescribed amount of time, per the statute of limitations. That is why you should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Birmingham who is knowledgeable about the Alabama statute of limitations and how they may affect your potential claim.
The injury attorneys at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton have been serving Alabamians for more than 130 years and are ready to answer any of your questions and help you meet all legal requirements for your case during this difficult time.
What Is a Personal Injury?
Personal injury claims are based on the legal concept of negligence, or the failure to keep other people safe by not taking proper precautions. When a negligent person or entity causes an accident that injures someone else, the injured party may file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party to seek compensation for the damages they have incurred.
To understand what a personal injury lawsuit involves and how the statute of limitations may affect your claim, it is important to know what constitutes a personal injury.
Personal injuries in Alabama may include any of the following:
- Automobile Accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Slip and Falls
- Workers’ Compensation
- Nursing Home Abuse or Negligence
- Dog Bites
- and numerous other types of claims
All personal injury cases must abide by the state’s statute of limitations; but what are they and what do they mean?
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits
If you suffer an injury from any of the incidents mentioned above, you should consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. If you decide to do this, it is critical to understand and observe the statute of limitations that apply to these cases.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law mandated by each state that sets a strictly enforced timeframe on your right to file a lawsuit in civil court.
What Is Alabama’s Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations for Alabama (found at Code of Alabama section 6-2-38) states that there is an established two-year deadline for the filing of any civil lawsuit that seeks a civil remedy (or “damages”) “for any injury to the person.”
In other words, in the state of Alabama, you have two years from your injury date to file a personal injury lawsuit founded on the liability principle of negligence (car accidents, slips and falls, etc.) and intentional tort (for example, a civil case over an assault). The countdown clock begins on the underlying incident’s date of occurrence.
What Happens if You Miss Filing the Lawsuit by the Deadline?
If you try to bring your injury lawsuit to court after the deadline has passed, the defendant (the party you are attempting to file a claim against) will more than likely request that the court dismiss your case, and more often than not, the court will do so.
Not only is Alabama’s personal injury statute of limitations important if you want to take your injury case to court in the form of a lawsuit, but the statutory filing timeframe is critical for personal injury settlement negotiations as well.
In the event you file your case after the deadline, and the defendant realizes it, you will have lost all of your negotiating leverage.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations in Alabama
Several different scenarios may delay the statute of limitations countdown clock or pause it entirely after it has started to run, thereby effectively extending the filing deadline.
One scenario is that the injured party is under the age of 19 or has been medically declared “insane,” thereby putting them under a “legal disability” in the state of Alabama. According to the Code of Alabama Section 6-2-8, once the disability period ends by either the injured party turning 19 or is declared mentally sane, they will have two years to file a civil lawsuit against the negligent person who caused their injury. However, if more than twenty years pass since the underlying accident, the court is prevented from extending the filing deadline.
Contact a Birmingham Injury Attorney at Hare, Wynn, Newell, & Newton Today
Have you suffered an injury from a car crash, dog bite, fall, or some other negligent act by another party? Do you want to pursue a personal injury case to obtain fair compensation for your injuries? If so, the Birmingham personal injury attorneys at Hare, Wynn, Newell, and Newton are here to help. For over 130 years, our firm has helped people just like you with their personal injury cases, and we proudly continue that service today. Do not go through your personal injury case alone. Contact us today to seek the compensation you deserve.