Alabama, just like any other state, has its share of accidents, negligence and other incidents that can turn your life upside down. Are you facing a new normal now? Maybe you're wanting to help out a friend who really needs support? If you had an accident or are sorting out the possibilities of bringing a personal injury suit in the state of Alabama, Enjuris offers answers.
Alabama Personal Injury Law: The Basics
Alabama statutes online
This is where you'll find the state of Alabama's laws, which determine how long you have to bring a lawsuit, any caps on damages you can claim, and so on.
Damages are what victims collect as compensation after a loss or injury. This is either an award from the jury after deliberation or a settlement between parties prior to the completion of litigation.
Alabama used to have limits on damages in personal injury cases, specifically medical malpractice. However, these caps were deemed unconstitutional by the Alabama Supreme Court in Moore v. Mobile Infirmary Ass'n, 592 So. 2d 156 (Ala. 1991). As of this writing (May 2018), there are no damage caps in the state, excluding punitive damages.
Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant who acted with malice or ill intent. In Alabama, one must illustrate "clear and convincing evidence" (which is a higher bar than it sounds) that the defendant acted with "deliberate or conscious malice." The caps on this type of recovery are three times the amount of compensatory damages or $1.5 million, whichever amount is greater.
Other civil actions besides personal injury have a limit of three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater. See Ala. Code § 6-11-21.
If a claim is against a municipality, such as a town, city or county, there is a hard limit of $100,000 in recovery. See Ala. Code. § 11-47-190.
Consultations for personal injury representation – at least the first meeting, during which you and the attorney are deciding upon an official relationship – are usually free of charge. After that, lawyers work on contingency. This means that their office will receive a third of whatever the client receives, plus office expenses.
If the case goes to trial, sometimes the number rises to 40% of the eventual reward or judgment. These numbers aren't set in stone, so don't be taken aback if your lawyer suggests something different. Do be taken aback if those numbers are very, very different.
There's a lot you can achieve on your own in a law library. They have specially-trained legal librarians who are eager to help, and every book on case law, statutes and regulations should be available for your perusal. They usually even have computers with complementary LexisNexis or Westlaw accounts that you can use for legal research. Check it out: