If you’ve been injured in an accident, time is of the essence when filing your claim. In addition to the possibility of evidence being lost and witness memories will fade, the law sets a time limit on when you can file. That time limit is called the statute of limitations.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for an Alabama Personal Injury Case?
The statute of limitations for an Alabama personal injury case is two years. That means you have two years to file your case in court from the date of the accident.
To be clear, filing in court means submitting the actual paperwork to the courthouse to start your case. It doesn’t mean the first time you talk to your lawyer, try to settle the case, or do anything else related to the case.
For that reason, it’s important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible after your accident even if you’re not sure that you’ll need to file a lawsuit. It can take several weeks or even months to properly prepare a lawsuit to bring to court.
Do You Need to Settle or Get a Verdict Before the Statute of Limitations Expires?
The statute of limitations is the deadline for officially starting your court case. Once you’ve properly filed your lawsuit, you’ve met your obligations under the statute of limitations. Note that judges generally won’t tolerate unnecessary delays, so this doesn’t mean your case will sit in court forever.
When Does the Statute of Limitations Start?
The statute of limitations starts when your actual injury occurs. For example, the statute of limitations for a car accident starts when the two cars collide. The time you spend in the hospital, the time you spend talking to an insurance adjuster, and the time you first try to take action on your case could all be important facts in your claim, but they don’t extend the statute of limitations.
Note that certain events may have their own statute of limitations. For example, if you suffer complications from a doctor’s error while in the hospital or have trouble getting your insurance company to honor their policy, those may be separate incidents with a different start date for the statute of limitations. They may also have different time limits. For example, medical malpractice is still two years but falls under a different law, and contract claims generally have a six-year limit.
Can I Extend the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is generally a hard deadline. If you don’t file your case within the required time, you will almost always lose your right to file it.
There are extremely limited exceptions which are generally limited to you actually not being able to file your lawsuit. This doesn’t just mean that you were busy with work or spent most of your free time going to rehab. It requires a very serious situation such as being in a long-term coma.
Schedule a Consultation with a Personal Injury Lawyer
To learn more about the statute of limitations or the general timeline for bringing a case, contact our office now. We offer free consultations to help you determine if you’re within the statute of limitations and whether we can help you with your claim.