The moment an accident happens, a clock known as the statute of limitations starts to tick. These statutes are a set of laws that dictate how much time you have to file a lawsuit for damage and/or a required notice of claim after your accident. If you haven’t filed by the time the clock runs out according to the statute, you have no further legal recourse. That is, there can be no lawsuit filed for damages relating to the accident, and you have forfeited your rights.
The Statute of Limitations for Alabama
In Alabama, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is two years from the date of discovery. That is to say, for example, the day that you suffered a serious injury in Mobile County is when the clock starts to count down. Even though two years might seem like a long time, it will fly by and it is very important to contact an Alabama accident attorney as soon as possible, or have family members do so on your behalf, as soon as possible. The sooner evidence is preserved and all details of the incident are documented by an injury attorney, the better.
There are circumstances that toll, or stop, the statute of limitations from running out.
- The injured party is under 18 years of age or is considered mentally impaired or disabled.
- Bankruptcy is filed by a defending party
In the event that the injured party is a minor, the statute of limitations will not run out until the minor is of an age where they can decide for themselves, or allow a court-appointed guardian to make the decision for them. Once the minor reaches 18 years of age, the statute of limitations starts and will expire two years later.
Bankruptcy filed on the defendants behalf, stops the statute of limitations due to the automatic stay that prevents collection activity until the bankruptcy is resolved. Upon resolution of bankruptcy, the statute picks up where it left off after bankruptcy was filed, and ends when two years total has passed.
How an Alabama Accident Attorney Handles Your Case
Consulting with an injury lawyer as soon as possible is critical in order to give the lawyer as much time as possible to construct an injury lawsuit. An investigation needs to be started, evidence gathered, witnesses found and interviewed if necessary, and they must ensure that the correct defendants are found and notified.
These aspects sometimes need weeks and months to complete. Waiting until the last minute to see an injury lawyer about your case may result in the lawyer turning you away because there simply isn’t enough time to develop the suit before the statute runs out.
Will the Case Go to Court?
It may be that the case never goes to court.
Prior to filing a lawsuit, your lawyer will most likely approach the insurance companies that are involved (if any), and examine the assets of the offender as well, in search of a settlement. It may be that a settlement is preferred by all parties instead of going to court which can be costly and time consuming.
If all parties agree to a settlement in lieu of court, the case is considered closed while your rights remain intact. Your injury lawyer also sees to it that no language in the settlement will state that you forfeit your right to sue further in the event that previously unknown health issues come to light after the accident, and after you receive the settlement. And, when handled properly from the start, if your case does need to go to court, your injury lawyer makes sure to do so long before the statute of limitations runs out.
Noel B. Leonard is a Foley injury lawyer representing serious accident victims in Baldwin, Mobile, and Escambia Counties of Alabama. If you’ve been seriously injured in an automotive accident or due to negligence at a place of business, your job, or by a property owner, contact Noel today to schedule a consultation or call 251-732-270.