Suffering serious personal injuries in a car accident in Alabama does not have to force you into financial strife. If someone else negligently or willfully caused the car accident, that person could owe you financial compensation for your injuries, medical treatments and other damages. You may be able to obtain monetary benefits through an insurance claim and/or personal injury lawsuit, as long as you obey the state’s related car accident compensation laws.
Fault-Based Insurance System
Alabama, like most states, uses a tort- or fault-based insurance system. All drivers in the state of Alabama must carry automobile insurance. If an accident occurs, victims will seek financial compensation under the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. It is a requirement, therefore, for victims to determine fault in the aftermath of a collision. This may be difficult in complex cases and could require an investigation from a Huntsville personal injury lawyer.
The state’s tort insurance system also enables crash victims to file lawsuits against the at-fault driver based on negligence. A lawsuit may be necessary if the insurance company refuses to take liability or will not offer a fair settlement. It might also be a wise course of action if the victim has suffered catastrophic injuries that may demand higher compensation awards than an insurance claim can supply alone.
Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims
Every state has unique statutes of limitations on car accident injury lawsuits. A statute of limitations places a time limit on how long a victim has to bring an injury claim. Missing your time limit generally means the courts will dismiss your case. Even if they agree to hear the case, the defendant could use the missed statute of limitations as a defense against you. In Alabama, you have two years from the date the crash occurred to file your claim. The courts may toll the deadline in unusual circumstances, such as crashes involving child victims or criminal charges.
Strict Contributory Negligence Rules
Only four states and the District of Columbia use pure contributory negligence rules in civil cases. Unfortunately for car accident victims in the state, Alabama is one of them. Most states have replaced contributory negligence rules with comparative fault laws instead. The issue most people have with contributory negligence laws is that they can completely bar a crash victim from financial recovery for contributing to an accident by even 1%.
According to ARCP, Rule 8(c), if the defendant can prove to a courtroom that you contributed to the car accident in any respect, no matter how minor your contribution, you could lose any right you might have had to financial compensation. Even if the other driver was 95% at fault, you cannot recover. The other driver must be completely at fault for your car accident. Hiring a lawyer could help you protect your rights to compensation. A lawyer may be able to prove to a judge or jury that the other driver was 100% at fault for the collision.
Available Compensation and Damage Caps
An insurance claim can pay the costs of your medical bills and vehicle damage repairs as a car accident victim in Alabama. If you wish to secure compensation for other past and projected future expenses, however, you will need to file a lawsuit with a Huntsville car accident attorney. A successful lawsuit against an at-fault party or parties could help you recover for many other damage categories.
- Disability costs, including home and vehicle accommodations
- Lost earnings and future wage capacity
- Diminished quality of life
- Physical pain and misery
- Mental and emotional distress or anguish
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Wrongful death damages
- Punitive damages
The state of Alabama does not place a cap on damages in a typical car accident claim, except on punitive damages. A victim cannot recover more than either three times the amount of compensatory damages or $1.5 million (whichever is greater) in punitive damages. If the case is against a government entity, the state caps damages at $100,000 per accident. Working with an attorney can help you maximize your compensation award after a car accident in Alabama. If you need expert legal representation in a car accident claim, call us for a free case evaluation. We can help you receive the compensation you deserve.