Alabama Personal Injury Law 101

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27, 2017.

Personal injury claims are some of the most commonly seen types of legal claim in the United States. Virtually everyone will at some point likely need legal services due to a personal injury claim, either as a plaintiff suing for someone else’s negligence or as a defendant fighting a charge of negligence. It’s a good idea for everyone to have at least some working knowledge of personal injury law and how personal injury claims work in Alabama. Review the following frequently asked questions to learn more about personal injury law and reach out to an experienced Birmingham injury attorney if you need more specific information about your situation.

How Do I Know If I Have a Personal Injury Claim?

Injuries and accidents happen every day for a variety of reasons. If you recently suffered any kind of injury, the first question you should ask is whether it was preventable. Generally, any accident that causes an injury may be grounds for a personal injury claim. Consider how you suffered the injury and whether any other person or party may be responsible.

When Should I Sue?

Ideally, you should start the claims process as soon as you handle your immediate medical issues. For example, if you are in a car accident and require emergency medical care and transportation to a hospital, you should start the claims process as soon as you feel well enough to attend to the matter. After any injury, your first priority should be your health. The rest can wait, but it’s important not to wait too long. There are statutes of limitations – or time limits – for filing civil actions. Generally, injured plaintiffs must file personal injury claims within two years of the date the injury occurred. This window is much shorter if the defendant is a government agency or employee.

How Much Is My Claim Worth?

Every personal injury claim is different, but they all follow a similar framework for calculating a plaintiff’s damages. Generally, an injured plaintiff can sue for direct repayment of measurable losses such as medical bills and lost wages from missed time at work. However, the justice system acknowledges that the pain caused by an accident is worse than the economic damage. Plaintiffs can sue for “pain and suffering,” which includes the physical pain and emotional anguish resulting from an injury. In most cases, pain and suffering damages are several times more than the plaintiff’s medical bills. For example, an injury leading to $10,000 in medical expenses may justify a claim of $30,000 or more for pain and suffering. The plaintiff’s attorney will advise an appropriate figure.

How Long Does the Personal Injury Claims Process Take?

The time it takes to resolve a claim depends on several factors. Some cases may involve multiple defendants, third party claims, counterclaims, cross-claims, and other time-consuming factors. Additionally, the evidence available in the claim may also cause delays. The legal process is notoriously time-consuming, and even very straightforward cases can take months or longer to end.

Do I Really Need an Attorney?

The answer to this question depends on you, the elements of your claim, and your familiarity with the law. If you have a working knowledge of the personal injury claims process and your case appears to be open and shut, you may be able to avoid paying legal fees and reach an acceptable conclusion on your own without professional legal assistance, but you are still taking a risk. However, if your claim involves long-term medical issues, permanent damage or disability, or multiple defendants, it’s wise to a hire an attorney. Most lawyers work on a contingency fee basis for personal injury claims, meaning you only pay if you win and the money is taken directly from the lump sum award, making it easier and less financially intimidating to hire an attorney.