It’s important to have finality in life for certain things, accidents being one of them. Based on this, each state has determined its own statute of limitations based on the assessment of how long it might be before memories get fuzzy, people move and evidence disappears. Most state statutes range from one to eight years, with two years being the “norm”. Some states, such as Tennessee, have extremely short statutes (one year for personal injury and one year for medical malpractice). Should you make the decision not to engage the services of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney following your accident, you should immediately ask your insurance adjuster about the statute of limitations and ensure you are familiar with the often-complex procedure for making a personal injury claim.
Statutes of Limitations and the Advantages of Hiring an Attorney Early On
Once you are aware of the time limits for your particular case, you must keep careful notations on a calendar of the date the statute expires with another alert approximately six months prior to that date or you should seriously consider hiring legal representation. Lest you think you can simply hire an attorney a month or so prior to the end of your allotted time—rethink that decision. No attorney wants to take on a personal injury case with absolutely no time to do a thorough job. Because attorneys are required to affirm under the Rules of Civil Procedure they have fully investigated the circumstances and believe the lawsuit to be meritorious, few lawyers will put their legal practice and reputation on the line simply because a client failed to contact them in a timely manner.
Few Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
If a lawsuit to obtain compensation for your injuries is not filed within Alabama’s statute of limitations, it will be forever barred. This means you cannot make excuses to the court as to why the suit wasn’t filed in a timely manner no matter how great that excuse might be. In other words, the court will not care that you were too sick to file the case, or that you were in the middle of some serious personal issue. Generally, the statute starts running on the day the accident occurred, or, in some cases, on the day you discovered, or should have discovered your injuries.
The only possible exception to the statute of limitations laws revolve around those who cannot access the courts including minors, those who have been declared legally insane, the disabled, and, in some cases, prisoners. This means the statute does not run during the time of “disability” with most states granting a grace period following termination of the specific disability during which a lawsuit can be brought.
Alabama Statutes of Limitations
Following are the current Alabama statutes of limitations:
- Personal injury (negligence) resulting from an automobile accident or a similar accident—two years from the date of the injury, or, in certain cases from the date the injury was discovered or should have been discovered;
- Wrongful death—two years from the date of the death;
- Medical malpractice—two years, however if the malpractice was discovered after two years you have six months to file your claim from the date of discovery of the injury resulting from medical malpractice. No medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed after four years from the date of the injury, however special rules apply for children;
- Breach of contract—six years;
- Fraud—two years from the date the fraud occurred, or from the date it was discovered or should have been discovered;
- Injury to personal property and trespass if not a negligence claim—six years;
- Wantonness—two years;
- Libel, slander or defamation—two years from the date of publication or the date when spoken;
- Product liability—two years against the original seller of the product;
- Breach of contract—six years (Uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist claims are considered breach of contract claims), and
- Claim against a governmental entity—six months to file the notice of claim for a city entity in Alabama, and one year for a county entity in Alabama.
Statutes of Limitation laws are in place to ensure fairness when it comes to filing a lawsuit, and to prevent a person from having unfinished legal business hanging over his or her head indefinitely. The injured party has a specific amount of time to determine whether filing a legal claim in in his or her best interests, and all parties can better plan, when there is a definitive deadline for legal conflicts.
Choosing Martinson & Beason for Your Legal Claim
Without an experienced personal injury Alabama attorney by your side, you could inadvertently exceed the statute of limitations, making it impossible to ever recover compensation for your injuries. The Martinson & Beason attorneys will work hard on your behalf to recover compensation for your injuries, whether from an automobile accident or a medical malpractice incident.
If the medical treatment you received fell below accepted standards of medical care and resulted in injury, or if the negligence of another person resulted in injury, the Martinson & Beason attorneys have the experience and knowledge necessary to help you obtain the best outcome possible. We understand your medical bills may be mounting in an alarming manner and that you may not have been able to return to work since your injury occurred. The Martinson & Beason attorneys will always go the extra mile for you, so contact Martinson & Beason today.