The Statute Of Limitations For Personal Injury Claims In Alabama
Interviewer: What does the term statute of limitations mean?
Brett Hollett: It’s a law that sets a time limit for filing a lawsuit for your claim. In Alabama, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. Meaning you must file a lawsuit against any potential defendant within two years of the date of your accident. However, there are some exceptions. The two year period can be extended if the injured party is a minor or incompetent. The two year period can also be extended if the injury is not yet known. However, if you fail to file your claim within the two year period, your claim may be time-barred meaning you could never recover anything from anyone who was responsible for your injuries.
An Insurance Company Cannot Expedite the Statute of Limitations
Interviewer: Would an insurance company ever try to, make that limitation or try to expedite the limitation?
Brett Hollett: The statute, no, it’s going to be from the date of your injuries. It’s just the initial injuries, so it’s not necessarily from treatment. So, if you’re in a car accident case on December 1st 2014, you’d have until December 1st 2016 to file suit. If you’re hurt while you’re staying at the hospital or if the doctor breaches standard of care during a hospital stay, whatever day the injury became known will start the statue of the limitations.
Large Treatment Gaps May Provide Insurance Companies with an Avenue to Downsize the Settlement
Interviewer: How does one get compensated?
Brett Hollett: You want to avoid large treatment gaps. You should always seek immediate medical attention as soon as you realize you are in pain. If you delay your medical treatment, insurance companies will argue that you must not have been injured seriously or that something else, other than the accident, has caused your injuries. As far as treatment gaps go, the insurance company will continue to try and downplay your injuries or say they’re not associated with the initial accident if you do have large treatment gaps.
It is Important to Have Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage on Your Insurance
Interviewer: How does one get compensated when the offender has no insurance? What happens there?
Brett Hollett: It can be complicated. If the offender doesn’t have any insurance they are unlikely to have any real assets. The case is unlikely to move forward since there is little to no hope of recovery. If the case did proceed to trial and a judgment was obtained against the uninsured defendant, the judgment probably isn’t worth the paper it is written on. Meaning you are going to have a really difficult time collecting any money from the defendant. However, if you have insurance and if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you will be able to be compensated up to the limits of your policy. Filing a claim against your uninsured or underinsured policy will not affect your rates since you were not the at fault party. If you own more than one vehicle or boat that are all insured with the same insurance company, you will be able to stack those policies to give you an additional amount uninsured or underinsured coverage.
Potential Timeframe of Resolution for a Personal Injury Claim in Alabama
Interviewer: How long can a case last like when it comes to personal injury? I mean what’s the potential amount of time that it’s going to take?
Brett Hollett: Every case is unique and it really depends on the injuries. You’re not going to want to even talk about potentially settling the case before you know your client has reached MMI or maximum medical improvement. Until you get to the point where your healthcare provider says that this is as good as you’re going to get, you cannot properly evaluate or settle a personal injury claim.
A Complicated Case Such as a Medical Malpractice Case May take Years to Resolve
The more complex the case the longer it will take to settle. Medical malpractice cases can be extremely complex and complicated especially when multiple doctors and hospitals may be named as defendants. There will be a done of pretrial discovery, depositions, etc… and it’s going to take a long time to get to the bottom of whatever happened and so, the more complicated cases can take years to work themselves out.
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