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 Cases & Accident Info
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.
Powell v. Alabama, 287 U.S. 45 (1932): In this case, nine black men were accused on raping two white women while aboard a train. The Supreme Court of the United States determined that the right to be represented by an attorney was fundamental to a fair trial and that the trial judge must inform a defendant of this right. In addition, if the defendant could not afford an attorney, the court must appoint one far enough in advance of the trial date that the lawyer could adequately prepare his case. This was the first time the Court had reversed a criminal conviction for a violation of a criminal procedural provision of the United States Bill of Rights.
Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962): This Supreme Court case decreed that redistricting, or attempts to change the way voting districts are landmarked, presented questions that enabled federal courts to intervene. The defendants attempted to argue that redistricting was a political question, which would have meant it was not solvable by federal courts. The Justices did not buy that argument. This case also allowed Justice Brennan to reformulate the Political Question doctrine.
Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964): This case goes along with Baker v. Carr in that it involved representation in state legislative districts and called for "one man, one vote." Both legislative chambers in state houses were to be apportioned by population rather than geographic districts, unlike the United States Congress.
Katzenbach v. McClung, 379 U.S. 294 (1964): In this case, a small-town BBQ restaurant challenged the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act, "hoping to protect their Jim Crow practice of refusing sit-down service to black customers." Cooler heads prevailed in the end.
Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012): The Supreme Court held that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole were cruel and unusual punishment for those less than 18 years of age.
Law libraries in Alabama
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: