Personal Injury Statute of LimitationsPublished: Dec 11, 2019 in Personal Injury
Our Alabama personal injury lawyers at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. have spent years helping people seek justice in civil court. With our help, your case will have the best possible chance of success.
Whether you were involved in a car accident or victimized by poor medical care, you may want to file a personal injury lawsuit if you have been injured by another person’s reckless or negligent behavior. Making your case in court can have many benefits. You may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries, and having the justice system acknowledge wrongdoing can help you move forward with your life. If you plan on taking legal action, you must do so quickly. There are strict time limits associated with filing a personal injury lawsuit.
To find out how you can file a lawsuit in a timely manner, call our personal injury lawyers at 205-933-1500 for a free consultation.
Personal Injury Time Restrictions
All states have deadlines for filing civil suits. In Alabama, you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person responsible for your accident. In most cases, the clock starts ticking when the injury is sustained. For example, if you broke your collarbone in a slip and fall accident, you have two years from the day of your accident to sue for personal injuries.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit even one day late will result in your claim being barred indefinitely. This will also be the outcome if you fail to correctly identify the person who caused your injuries. If for example, you list Jane Doe as the defendant in your filing, and you later learn that it was actually Jim Smith who caused your car accident, your case will likely be dismissed against Jane Doe. If you missed the two-year deadline to file a claim against Jim Smith, who caused your injuries, you may not be able to recover compensation.
This is why it important to seek legal representation as soon as possible. A personal injury attorney can handle the paperwork involved in your case and ensure that your information is correct. Getting help early can also be beneficial from the standpoint of having a well-prepared argument. Gaining evidence of wrongdoing through an independent investigation can take months to complete.
How the Statute of Limitation Can Be Extended
In some cases, there are ways to extend, or toll, the personal injury statute of limitations. Exceptions to the two-year deadline are associated with age, incapacitation, and whether or not the injury had been discovered. Certain circumstances may allow you to file a personal injury lawsuit more than two years after your injury was sustained. These exceptions include, but are not limited to:
- Minors: For a child under the age of 18, the two-year statute of limitations does not start to run until they turn 19. At this point, they have two years to initiate a personal injury lawsuit. However, they must file a lawsuit no later than 20 years after their injury occurred.
- Being Incapacitated: For those who are mentally handicapped or severely injured, the personal injury statute of limitations may be tolled.
- Discovery: In some cases, an injury is not known until after it is sustained. This is often the case with medical malpractice. The symptoms of a botched surgery or a harmful prescription may not become obvious for months or years after malpractice takes place. If the two-year deadline has already come and gone, you have six months to file a lawsuit once your injury is discovered.
- Concealment: The statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit may also be tolled in medical malpractice cases in which wrongdoing is concealed by a medical professional. A doctor might knowingly leave a sponge inside a person’s chest cavity before sewing them up, or make incisions that they know are not necessary.
Statute of Repose for Medical Malpractice
A statute of repose is a final deadline for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. In Alabama, a victim is not allowed to file a medical malpractice lawsuit for this type of negligence more than four years after the injury occurs, regardless of when the injury was actually discovered.
Skilled Representation for Your Alabama Personal Injury Case
Understanding the circumstances surrounding your case can help you determine when you are required to file a personal injury suit. However, the only way to fully understand your options is by consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer. At Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C., our dedicated Alabama personal injury lawyers will give your case the attention it deserves.
If you would like to receive compensation for your injuries, call 205-933-1500 today. We offer a case evaluation free of charge and are ready to help you obtain full compensation for your losses. With offices in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, and Montgomery, our attorneys will quickly travel to investigate your case.