How do I know if I have an Alabama personal injury claim?
A skilled Alabama personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether you have a viable injury claim.
Did you sustain injuries because of another person’s negligence, intentional actions, or recklessness? If you can show the other party is at fault and have proof of damages they caused, you could have a personal injury claim.
Common personal injury claims include motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, slip and falls, dog bites, swimming pool accidents, boating collisions, wrongful death, defective products, and nursing home abuse.
Criminal acts involving physical assaults, domestic violence, robberies, etc., can also give rise to a civil lawsuit for personal injury.
What steps should I take after an injury accident to protect my interests?
Immediately following an injury incident, such as a car accident, you should call the police to respond and advise them you are injured.
If your injuries are not too severe, try to get photos of the scene, vehicle damage, your injuries, skid marks, debris, etc. Ensure you get witness contact information for anyone who might’ve seen what happened.
If you do not require medical transport to the hospital, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Report the claim to your insurance company and contact an Alabama personal injury lawyer about getting a copy of the accident report for you.
I feel a little sore after a car accident, but I’m ok—should I still see a doctor?
You should always see a doctor and get checked out after an injury accident. Some soft tissue injuries can take a day or two to become noticeable.
Also, you could have internal injuries that aren’t visible.
Always pay attention to your body. It’s better to get a check-up and find out nothing serious is wrong rather than put yourself at risk.
Waiting to seek treatment can also put your personal injury claim at risk, which is why it’s also important to at least get an initial check-up following a car accident.
How soon after an accident should I start a claim?
It’s best to start the claims process right away whenever possible.
Depending on the type of personal injury claim you’re planning to file and who the defendants are, different deadlines will apply.
For example, car accident claims involving someone driving a government vehicle have specific claims deadlines and processes.
If you miss one of these deadlines, you could lose your right to bring a claim.
What if I’ve already taken steps independently?
Even if you started the claims process independently, you could still hire a personal injury lawyer.
It’s best to hire an attorney earlier rather than later. The sooner you retain an attorney, the sooner we can start protecting your rights.
Even if you started the claim independently, contact us to schedule an initial consultation.
What happens if I’m partially at fault for the accident? Do I still have a claim in Alabama?
Alabama is one of only a handful of states still following the archaic legal theory of contributory negligence.
Contributory negligence rules mean you cannot collect any compensation for your injuries if you share fault for the accident.
That means even if you are 1% at fault, the law prohibits you from collecting any compensation for your injuries.
The other driver’s insurance company will be looking for any evidence possible to put a percentage of liability on you because it eliminates their exposure.
How long do I have to file a personal injury claim in Alabama?
In most situations, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in Alabama before the statute of limitations expires.
If the case is a wrongful death lawsuit, you would have two years from the victim’s date of death. Should you miss the filing deadline, the court will most likely bar you from any recovery, no matter how strong your case is.
Other deadlines could apply in cases involving minors, medical malpractice, municipal agency defendants, etc.
Do not assume that your case automatically falls under the two-year rule without speaking to a lawyer first.
How much does an Alabama personal injury lawyer cost?
Most Alabama personal injury lawyers do not charge you upfront for attorney fees or bill you hourly.
Instead, they take a percentage of your settlement as payment for legal fees and costs, known as a contingency fee.
For example, an attorney might take around 30% of your settlement for cases that resolve prior to litigation.
If your claim is in litigation, the percentage could be higher.
What is a contingency fee?
A contingency fee is when you pay legal fees only if your attorney obtains a favorable result in your case.
It’s the typical method for lawyers to collect a fee in personal injury matters.
Should your attorney successfully resolve your case, they will take a percentage of your settlement as the contingency fee.
If your case goes to trial and the jury awards you nothing, then your attorney won’t be paid either.
What if I can’t afford to pay for legal representation?
You don’t need to come up with any legal fees to have a personal injury lawyer represent you in most situations.
Your attorney will also “front” all the court costs, expenses, expert fees, etc.
If there is a successful resolution to your case, then the attorney will take their payment before issuing a settlement check for your portion.
You will never have to pay for legal fees out of your pocket unless you decide to hire a firm that bills hourly for personal injury matters, which is extremely rare.
Do I have to pay for my initial meeting with one of your attorneys?
No, you will not need to pay anything to meet with an attorney at Fob James Law Firm, LLC.
We offer free, no-obligation consultations for all personal injury matters. All you need to do is schedule a meeting.
When you come in for an appointment, we will discuss the details of your case and give you our recommendations on how best to proceed.
What should I bring with me for my first meeting with a lawyer?
It’s helpful to bring everything related to your case, including the police report, medical reports, scene photos, etc.
Please bring a notebook and pen to write down any notes or questions that may arise during our meeting.
Before coming to our office, you should take time to prepare for the meeting.
For example, bring a list of questions you want to ask the attorney about your case.
Why should I hire an attorney if I can handle the claim on my own?
There is no legal requirement in Alabama that you hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you, but there are numerous benefits to doing so.
When you hire an attorney at Fob James Law Firm, LLC, we will handle all the complex legal issues.
For example, we will:
- Conduct an independent investigation;
- Request all case documentation;
- Gather all pertinent evidence;
- Handle all communications with the defendant’s insurance company;
- Hire experts;
- Negotiate a settlement; and
- Help ensure you don’t miss any filing deadlines.
If the other party’s insurance isn’t willing to negotiate, we will prep your claim for litigation.
Should I speak with the negligent party’s insurance?
You must contact your own insurance company to report the claim.
However, be very careful if speaking with the negligent party’s insurance company.
It’s best to talk with an attorney first rather than speak to the other party’s insurance without legal representation.
The other party’s insurance company will lead you to believe they are understanding and on your side.
However, the adjuster is looking out for the insurance company’s bottom line, not your well-being.
Should I give the insurance company a recorded statement?
You should not agree to give a recorded statement to the negligent party’s insurance company without legal representation.
The insurance company is looking for any information they can use against you during their investigation.
Remember, the defendant’s insurance company’s priority is to reduce or eliminate their payout.
If the claims representative can find a way to place a percentage of liability onto you, they will not have to pay you anything under Alabama’s contributory negligence law.
Is it okay to talk to an insurance agent about the claim?
In general, it’s best if you don’t say more than you must without legal representation.
If an insurance agent is from the other party’s insurance company, you are under no legal obligation to speak with them.
What if I was hit by an uninsured driver—do I still have a case?
If the other driver does not have proper liability coverage as required by Alabama law, you might still have a case if you have uninsured motorist coverage on your own policy.
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is not mandatory in Alabama, so it’s additional coverage you would’ve voluntarily added to your auto policy.
You can check your policy documents or speak with your agent to determine whether you have UM coverage and the policy limits.
It’s important to understand that UM claims are treated as third-party claims, which means your insurance company “steps into the shoes” of the uninsured driver.
Your insurance will be looking to reduce or eliminate their payout, so be cautious when speaking with the claims adjuster without an attorney.
What if I didn’t realize I was injured until weeks after my accident?
Waiting weeks to seek medical treatment is never well-received by the other party’s insurance.
They will try to use that against you and argue that you did not sustain severe injuries or something else caused your current pain complaints rather than the initial accident.
That is one reason why it’s always best to at least see a doctor right after the accident, even if you don’t think you are severely injured.
A delay in treatment is not an absolute bar to recovery, but it presents some additional challenges.
What happens if my personal injury claim is in another state?
If your accident occurred in another state, the claims process could be quite different.
The laws of the state that apply to your accident are not likely the same as Alabama.
Examples include negligence rules and court deadlines.
Also, should you need to file a lawsuit, you must file in a court that has jurisdiction to hear the case.
You may need to litigate elsewhere and find an attorney licensed to practice in that state with an out-of-state accident.
What happens if I am involved in a rideshare accident?
Rideshare accidents can be very complicated.
Who is responsible depends on your role in the accident—were you a passenger in a rideshare vehicle, or did a rideshare driver hit your car?
Rideshare companies have different rules that dictate when their policy is primary, depending on what the driver was doing at the time.
For example, an Uber driver who does not have a paid fare or is on the way to pick one up won’t have the same coverage through Uber as a driver transporting a paid fare.
What kind of damages/compensation can I recover in a personal injury claim?
The type of compensation you can recover in a personal injury claim varies based on the type of claim you pursue and your damages.
In general, some of the most common types of damages in personal injury matters include:
- Medical expenses to date,
- Future expected medical costs,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of earning capacity,
- Pain and suffering,
- Property damage,
- Mental anguish,
- Loss of consortium
Your attorney will advise you what damages you can pursue compensation for and what your case is potentially worth.
What kind of documentation should I be keeping for a personal injury case?
Maintain all records related to your claim, such as receipts, medical bills, paychecks, repair estimates, etc.
You can also keep a log, such as a pain journal.
It’s essential to track how your injuries impact your daily life, career, relationships, etc.
If your case ends up in litigation a year or two later, it is easier to recall specific details about your injuries when you’ve written them down.
What happens if I can’t prove the other party was negligent?
If you are pursuing a claim that depends on proving the other party was negligent and you are unable to do so, you will not receive any compensation for your injuries and other damages.
Alabama is a contributory negligence state, which means if you are even 1% at fault, the law bars you from any recovery.
However, certain cases may offer the opportunity to proceed with a claim under other legal theories that don’t rely on proving negligence.
Your attorney will explain all potential avenues of recovery and what proof is necessary.
Will a personal injury lawsuit impact my insurance record and/or premium?
A personal injury lawsuit may or may not impact your own insurance premiums.
Some of the factors that could determine the potential impact include your specific policy terms, who was at fault for the accident, the accident severity, your own driving record, and the type of car you have insured.
If you have specific questions, contact your insurance company or agent to discuss what kinds of claims and activities increase your premium and record.
How long does a personal injury case take to settle?
Every case is different, so settlement timelines will vary. Your claim could resolve during early settlement negotiations, or it might wind up in litigation and not resolve for one or more years.
For example, a severe injury car accident with clear liability might resolve within a few months if the negligent party had low insurance limits.
In contrast, a complicated defective product claim involving multiple parties might take several years to settle.
Should I accept the settlement money from the insurance company?
Before you accept any settlement offer from the other party’s insurance company, speak with a skilled Alabama personal injury lawyer.
The adjuster is likely offering you far less than your case is worth, excluding future medical treatment you may need.
You should not sign the release of all claims without having an attorney review the documentation.
This step is crucial if you only resolve a portion of your claim, such as property damage. Insurance companies notoriously include language in the property damage release or on the settlement check that any payment extinguishes all future claims.
What factors would cause my case to go to litigation?
Your case could wind up in litigation for a variety of reasons, including disputed liability, the statute of limitations approaching, a breakdown in settlement negotiations, and other complex legal issues.
Some types of personal injury matters are more likely to result in litigation, such as defective products, medical malpractice, and wrongful death claims.
How much is my injury case worth? How do you determine the value of my claim?
Every personal injury case value differs, even in accidents with similar circumstances.
Your attorney will explain how we reach your case value.
Some important factors include injury type and severity, your overall damages, how the accident impacted your career and quality of life, liability, and available insurance coverage.
How do I maximize my personal injury settlement?
The best way to maximize your potential injury settlement is to hire a skilled Alabama personal injury lawyer right away.
Other necessary steps include:
- Seeking timely medical treatment;
- Following all medical providers’ orders;
- Reporting the accident right away;
- Declining to give the other party’s insurance company a recorded statement
- without legal representation; and
- Gathering all pertinent evidence.
When you have an attorney representing you, we will take all necessary steps to preserve evidence and build the strongest case possible.
What kind of evidence will I need to file my claim?
When you initially file a claim, you only need information about the accident itself. You do not need to wait until you gather all evidence.
For example, you can file a claim with insurance information for the other driver and a police report case ID.
The point of filing a claim is to open an investigation and gather all documentation that proves your injury.
Do not wait months until you finish treating to file a claim; otherwise, you might jeopardize your right to compensation.
Will I have to pay back my health insurance for medical bills?
If your health insurance paid for your medical expenses in a pending personal injury matter, you would almost always need to repay it if you receive compensation from the responsible party.
Your health insurance will alert your attorney with either a notice of intended subrogation claim or a medical lien.
If you receive a settlement or trial award that includes compensation for your medical expenses, your attorney will pay the lien before issuing you payment.
I lost my job as a result of the personal injury; can I get compensation?
If you cannot return to work following a severe accident, your settlement demand can include compensation for future loss of earning capacity, disability, etc.
However, if your employer fired you because you were injured and unable to work right now, you might have a separate case.
Depending on the circumstances, you might claim wrongful termination against your employer. Your attorney will advise you on all potential avenues of recovery.
What if I can’t prove someone’s negligence caused my injury? Is there any other basis for personal injury liability besides negligence?
You can pursue some types of personal injury claims without proving negligence.
One example is strict liability that might apply in a defective product or dog bite claim.
Another example is intentional wrongs, such as a physical assault or being wrongly detained.
Your attorney may also be able to argue “negligence per se” in some cases where the defendant clearly violated a statute enacted to protect you, such as a drunk driver who crashed into your vehicle, causing you injuries.
Is it possible to sue a county or city?
If a municipal employee caused your injuries, you could file a claim with the municipal government, but the deadline is short.
You have only six months from your injury, and other special rules apply.
Alabama law prohibits you from suing the state or a state employee in most cases under sovereign immunity, which means the government is immune from liability unless an exception applies.
Potential exceptions include an employee engaging in fraud, doing something in bad faith or beyond the scope of authority, or acting with malicious intent.
Who will be responsible for my future medical care costs?
There are many reasons you could lose your personal injury case. Some of these include the inability to prove the defendant is liable for your damages, not having adequate proof of damages, contributory negligence, lack of preparation, and more.
Another key reason you might lose your case is not hiring an Alabama personal injury lawyer. Successfully resolving an accident claim requires knowledge, experience, and strong negotiating skills.
As an injured plaintiff, insurance companies know you don’t have a legal background and use that to their advantage.