What is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in Alabama?
When you are injured in an accident caused by someone else’s careless or negligent actions, you may be entitled to take them to court. These lawsuits are typically called “personal injury” lawsuits, and include a wide range of cases, such as car accident cases, dangerous and defective product injury cases, and hospital negligence cases. Many of these cases have specific rules for how long you have to file after you’ve been injured. If you were injured and are considering taking the responsible parties to court, you should understand the associated deadlines for your case. Depending on the type of injury, you may have more or less time to file the case – but most cases must be filed within two years. For a free consultation on your personal injury case and for help understanding your deadlines to file, talk to the Montgomery, Alabama personal injury attorneys at the Morrison Law Firm, LLC, today.
Personal Injury Filing Deadlines
If you were injured by someone else’s bad actions, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit based on their “negligence.” A negligence case centers on suing someone who acted without giving the proper care or attention to the task, and caused injuries. “Negligent” is often used in contrast to “intentional” to show that no one intended to hurt someone else, but that they were still legally responsible for the injuries. Proving your negligence case requires showing that someone else failed to use the proper care they owed you, which caused your injuries. While you can usually sue for these injuries, you must follow “procedural” rules to get your case into the courtroom.
The first procedural rule you will encounter in any lawsuit is called the “statute of limitations.” The “statute of limitations” is usually defined in a written law, and sets out the deadline by which you must file your case. If you miss the deadline, you may not be able to take your case to court and may lose your chance to seek compensation.
In general, the time limit for a negligence lawsuit is 2 years. This falls under the general provision of AL Code § 6-2-38(l), which states that any injury lawsuit not based on contract or otherwise specifically listed has a default deadline of 2 years. If the injuries were intentional rather than negligent, such as assault and battery, the deadline is 6 years under AL Code § 6-2-34.
In addition, lawsuits for the death of a loved one must also be filed within 2 years.
Note that the statute of limitations only gives a deadline to file your case. If your attorney can get the paperwork together and file it with a court before the deadline, the statute of limitations cannot stop your case. This does not mean that you need to build your case, take it to court, and get a jury verdict within two years of your injury. Some cases may take a long time, and statutes of limitations do not interfere with that – you just need to file within 2 years.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Alabama
Many states have complicated rules for suing negligent doctors. In these states, medical malpractice statutes of limitations may be different than typical negligence cases. In Alabama, medical malpractice cases also have a 2-year deadline to file. However, AL Code § 6-5-482 has a built-in exception for cases where the cause of the injury could not be discovered. This “Discovery Rule” allows patients 6 months to sue after they discover the cause of their injury, even if it takes years to discover. This kind of situation often arises when objects are left inside during surgery. Patients may have pain or discomfort for years before they learn the object is inside them, then they have 6 months to file their medical malpractice case. This still has an ultimate, hard limit of 4 years after the negligence took place, even if you could not have discovered the injury in that time period. This outside deadline is often called a “statute of repose” rather than a “statute of limitations.”
Defective Product Injury Statute of Limitations in Alabama
In general, product liability cases follow the same 2-year deadline as other negligence cases. However, if the case was against the “original seller” of the product, the deadline is a shorter, 1-year deadline under AL Code § 6-5-502. There is also “Discovery Rule” exception for these product injury cases. Plaintiffs have one year to file a case after discovering the cause of the injury, if it was “latent” or otherwise undiscoverable, even if it takes longer than 2 years to discover. This may occur in cases where you rely on a product every day, but do not know it has been malfunctioning for a while. Similarly, this can also extend the deadline for products that cause poisoning or exposure to toxic chemicals or radiation, as these injuries may take a long time set-in or become noticeable. You also have 1 year to file after discovering these injuries.
Montgomery, Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer
The Montgomery personal injury attorneys at the Morrison Law Firm may be able to take your case and help you get compensation for your injuries. If you were injured in a car accident, because of medical negligence, or by a dangerous or defective product, talk to one of our attorneys today. Because you might face strict deadlines on your case, talk to an attorney as soon as you can. For a free consultation with our lawyers, call (334) 625-6128 today.