Filing a personal injury lawsuit is not a familiar process for the average person in Alabama. Most claimants are first-time injury victims who do not know what to expect from the civil justice system. If this is your first time bringing a personal injury claim in Alabama, work with an injury attorney from the beginning to help you navigate the unique elements your case might involve. In the meantime, learn a few basic facts and the general timeline to help put your mind at ease in the early stages of your claim.
How to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
After suffering a significant personal injury under any circumstance in Alabama, hire an attorney to assist you with the claims process. Different types of accidents will involve different laws, such as negligence or product liability. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will not have to pay them upfront or at all unless they win your case. Using a lawyer can make filing your claim faster and easier. Your lawyer can protect your rights and avoid common filing mistakes that could hurt your claim to damages.
- Identify the defendant or the party at fault for your injuries.
- Gather information and evidence pointing to the defendant’s fault.
- Work with an attorney to help you accurately evaluate your losses.
- Do not admit fault or accept an initial settlement offer from an insurance provider.
- Draft a demand letter with a description of your losses and a desired amount of compensation.
- Serve the defendant the demand letter and get a receipt upon delivery.
- Enter into settlement negotiations if the defendant accepts your claim.
- File a personal injury lawsuit within two years of the injury if the defendant denies the claim or if settlement negotiations fail.
- Hire a lawyer to represent you during the trial if you have not done so already.
- Take your case to court in pursuit of fair compensation.
If insurance settlement negotiations with the defendant fail to resolve your case, an attorney can help you bring a lawsuit against the at-fault party in the state of Alabama. Your lawyer will need to obey the statute of limitations and file your claim with the correct court based on the county where your accident occurred. Once your lawyer files the lawsuit, it will initiate negotiations and could lead to a full-blown injury trial depending on the circumstances.
Timeline for Most Personal Injury Lawsuits
Every personal injury lawsuit is unique. No exact timeline exists that applies universally to all claims in Alabama. How long your case takes to resolve will depend on many factors, including the severity of your injuries, how long they will foreseeably take to heal, the willingness of the defendant to compromise on a settlement and the skill of your attorney. In general, an insurance settlement will take a shorter amount of time to resolve than taking a personal injury claim to court in Alabama.
The average personal injury insurance settlement takes about three months from the initiation of the claim to the claimant receiving a settlement check. This timeline can vary, however, depending on the complexity of the case. An insurance company may request more time for investigation of a difficult case, for example. A personal injury trial will require more meetings, interviews, evidence gathering and hearings than an out-of-court insurance settlement. The average personal injury trial can take one year or longer to resolve.
The general sequence of events to expect from a personal injury lawsuit starts with you getting medical attention for your injuries. Your personal health and safety are top priorities. Then, you or your lawyer should start gathering evidence related to your case. This could include medical documents, photographs, police reports, and eyewitness testimony. Next, your lawyer will evaluate your damages and help you make a fair settlement demand. Then, if the defendant refuses to settle for a reasonable amount, your lawyer may need to take your case to trial before you can collect an award. Speak to a Birmingham personal injury attorney for information about the timeline for your specific accident case.