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Alabama Personal Injury Law 101

Posted on May 19, 2015

At some point, almost everyone will either require a personal injury attorney or need to make a claim for injuries caused by someone’s negligence. For those injured in Alabama, there are very specific considerations that must be understood in order to make a claim. This article addresses and answers the most common questions our clients  ask us.

How long do I have to file a claim in Alabama?

Alabama has a 2 year time frame within which to file a lawsuit. While there are some exceptions for minors and incompetents, for the most part, the failure to bring a claim for injury or death must be brought within 2 years of it is forever barred.

Do I have a case?

There is no easy answer to this question. Every case is different. However, Alabama law allows an injured citizen to sue any company or person whose negligence proximately or directly cause the injury. Whether its a product defect claim, car accident or medical malpractice, the essence of the claim is based on the negligence of the wrongdoer. Without negligence, there can be no claim.

The issue of negligence is usually a question of fact for the jury. In extreme examples, the Court can direct a verdict in favor of the Defendant where the evidence of negligence is weak or non-existent. Stated differently,  a mere injury, without more, is not sufficient. The Plaintiff must prove that the Defendant failed to exercise reasonable care and that the failure to do so directly caused the injury.

What is my case worth?

Here again, no easy answer for this. One size does not fit all. Each case must be independently evaluated based upon multiple considerations such as: amount of medical bills, lost wages, extent of mental anguish, permanency of injury, amount of insurance coverage available, County in which the injury occurred, etc. Our firm makes a point of keeping up with jury verdicts in Alabama, particularly in Birmingham and surrounding counties, so we have a good idea of what common injuries are worth from a jury’s standpoint.

How long does the claims process last?

Over 90% of the cases we handle settle without going to trial. Probably 70% of those settle without even filing a lawsuit. For those that go all the way to trial, it may take up to 3 years from start to finish. Again, each case is different and each County has budget restraint that affect how many jury trial they can have per year. If a case settles without being filed, however, the process usually last about 6 to 9 months.

What about future medical bills and future lost wages?

Once a case is in the claims process, it is only a matter of time before the insurance adjuster makes an offer of settlement. No case, especially filed ones, can last forever. At some point, the case must be heard and resolved by a jury or the parties. So, the jury can only award those damages that are proven as of that date. Alabama personal injury law allows a claimant to be awarded those damages that are proven to be more likely than not. As such, if a worker has lost a leg while on the job and is seeking compensation for lost wages, he has a right to claim future lost wages that he is likely to sustain due to his inability to work as before.

Do I need a lawyer?

The short answer is it depends. If you have a permanent and severe injury, you definitely need legal help. If you are rear-ended by a vehicle and your only damage is property damage, then no attorney is needed. At the end of the day, its probably best to at least consult with a lawyer just to make sure of your rights.

How do injury lawyers get paid?

As with every other injury attorney in Birmingham, Al, payment is made contingent on the outcome. If the case is won or settled, the lawyer gets a percentage, usually from 1/3 to 50%, depending on the complexity of the case. Also, all out of pocket or fronted money is deducted out first to reimburse the law firm for its costs.

If you have been in an auto accident, work injury or suffered some physical harm as a result of another’s negligence, consult with a Birmingham personal injury attorney to learn your specific rights…before it’s too late.