The Steps Involved in Filing a Lawsuit in Alabama
If your legal rights have been violated, there are provisions under Alabama law that allow you to pursue damages through the filing of a lawsuit. For example, if you were involved in an auto accident through no fault of your own or were injured after the purchase of a defective product, you might have medical bills, lost wages, permanent impairment, pain and suffering, and other damages which you’d be entitled to collect if you prevailed in a civil case.
Filing a lawsuit in Alabama is your right if you believe that you have suffered some harm due to the carelessness of another party. A lawsuit is a legal action in which you allege that another party, such as a person or corporation, has caused you harm and you ask for remedies. In most cases, a lawsuit takes expertise to handle, which is why it’s important to speak with an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney before you proceed.
Time Limits for Filing a Lawsuit in Alabama
One of the first things you need to know about filing a lawsuit in Alabama is that there are time limits. Called a status of limitations, this is a legal deadline to file a lawsuit for certain types of cases. The statute of limitations will vary by the type of case but the civil time limits are outlined in Alabama Code 6-2-1. In most cases, there is a statute of limitations from two to six years on filing a lawsuit in Alabama.
The Initial States of an Alabama Lawsuit
Your first step in filing a lawsuit is to meet with a qualified Alabama personal injury attorney that can speak to you about your case and outline your options. If you decide to move forward, your attorney will send a notice of representation letter to the insurance company or Defendants.
Your personal injury attorney will begin their case investigation and the process of gathering evidence such as any accident reports and medical records. In some cases, the insurance company might make contact with a settlement offer at this stage.
Filing Your Lawsuit in State Court
Provide you don’t settle your case for a figure that is considered reasonable, your attorney will move forward with filing a lawsuit. A “complaint” is filed with the courts which outlines all of the claims against the defendants. That complaint is also personally served upon the defendant by a process server. The defendant then has 30 days to file an “answer.”
During this stage, the attorneys on both sides might also begin what is called “discovery.” This might include scheduling depositions, submitting formal requests for records, and requesting answers to specific questions. There is a time limit on discovery, after which a mediation might take place to attempt settlement. If the case does not settle, it will proceed to trial.
Trial and Settlement Procedures
Only a small percentage of civil cases are taken all the way to trial. From the time that a lawsuit is filed until a trial date is set, a year or more might pass, which is a long time to wait for some plaintiffs. If a trial is scheduled, the attorneys will go through the process of jury selection and handling of preliminary meetings. Once these items are complete, the trial itself can commence.
A trial in a civil case is similar to what you see on television or read in a book, but often without the high drama. The attorneys will give their opening statements, each side will call and question witnesses, and then there will be closing arguments. Once this is concluded, the jury is asked to deliver a verdict as well as decide on the award of monetary damages.
A civil trial in Alabama can last just one day or take several weeks, depending on the case. The parties also have the option to settle at any time during the process and can appeal a verdict to the Supreme Court of Alabama within 42 days of the trial’s close.
Contact an Experienced Alabama Personal Injury Law Firm
If you are thinking of filing a lawsuit in Alabama for personal injury or wrongful death, contact the experienced Dothan, Alabama personal injury attorneys at Cobb, Boyd, White & Cobb to discuss your case. We can be reached at (334) 677-1000.