TIME IS RUNNING OUT: WHAT ARE STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS IN PERSONAL INJURY CASES?
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by a negligent individual, it is important to contact an attorney to file a personal injury case as soon as possible. The statute of limitations only gives you a certain amount of time to file your personal injury claim. Failure to meet the statute of limitations means that you will no longer be able to file your personal injury claim and recover damages. Each state has its own statute of limitations, making it extremely important to familiarize yourself with these details after experiencing an accident. Below you can find the statutes for Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida, all the states covered by Wettermark Keith, along with other pertinent information about your injury case.
WHAT IS A STATUTE OF LIMITATION?
A statute of limitations is a law that sets a specific time period during which legal action can be taken in relation to a particular event or wrongdoing. After the expiration of the time period specified by the statute of limitations, the affected party loses the right to take legal action against the person or entity responsible for the harm or injury. The specific time period for a statute of limitations varies depending on the type of case and jurisdiction and can range from a few months to several years. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to promote timely resolution of legal disputes and to prevent individuals from being held liable for events that occurred many years ago when memories may have faded and evidence may have been lost.
WHAT TYPES OF DAMAGES CAN I RECOVER?
With most personal injury claims, you can file for compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate you for your losses and include both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include items such as lost wages and benefits and out-of-pocket expenses for medical bills, medical equipment, and medicines.
Noneconomic damages include intangible losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and disability.
Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter them from repeating their negligent actions. To win punitive damages, you must prove that the party who injured you consciously or deliberately engaged in oppression, fraud, wantonness, or malice.
Depending on the state laws, there could be exceptions for cases where you can only file for compensatory damages or punitive damages. States can also set a cap on how much compensation you can receive for compensatory damages, punitive damages, or both. It is important to contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your accident or injury so you can know what types of compensation you are entitled to before the statute of limitations expires.
ALABAMA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The Alabama statute of limitations allows a 2 year time frame to file your personal injury claim from the date of injury. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.
If the injured party is a minor, the time limit does not begin until the child turns 19 years old.
If you were injured by a dangerous product and want to pursue legal action against the original seller of the product, you have 1 year from the date you were hurt to file a lawsuit.
There is no cap for compensatory damages in Alabama. However, if an entity of the government is responsible for personal injuries or wrongful death, the government’s damage liability is capped at $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. The only other exception is wrongful death cases; in the state of Alabama, you can only collect punitive damages against the party responsible for the death.
Under Alabama law, punitive damages are capped at three times the amount of your compensatory damages or $1,500,000, whichever is greater. There are a few exceptions to this cap when it comes to cases that involve intentional injuries, wrongful death, or the death of a child.
Alabama is one of the few states that follows a pure contributory negligence rule. This means that if you contributed any amount of negligence to your injury, you cannot receive any compensation for your injuries. Even if you are found to be only 1% at fault for the injuries, you cannot hold the opposing party responsible. Pure contributory negligence laws can be harsh and only a handful of states like Alabama still follow this standard. However, in Alabama, there are two exceptions to contributory negligence:
If the injured party is younger than 14 years old, they cannot be held contributorily negligent.
The person who caused the injury acted with gross negligence or wanton misconduct. For this to apply, you must prove that the person who caused your injury acted with conscious disregard for the risk of causing you harm.
It is important that you discuss your accident or injury with an experienced personal injury lawyer before filing a claim. Wettermark Keith has multiple locations in the state of Alabama with dedicated personal injury lawyers ready to assist you with top legal advice. Our offices in Alabama are located in: Birmingham, Montgomery, Huntsville and Dothan.
TENNESSEE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Tennessee allows a 1 year time frame to file a lawsuit from the date of injury. If you do not file within this time frame, your case will be refused by the courts. There are a few exceptions to the 1 year rule:
If the injured party is a minor, their parent or legal guardian has one year to file a claim on behalf of the minor. If the parent or legal guardian never files a claim for the minor, the minor can file a claim for pain and suffering when they turn 18 and would have to file the lawsuit by their 19th birthday.
If the victim succumbs to their injuries days, weeks, or months after the accident, the statute of limitations may extend 120 days or one year from the date of the victim’s passing to allow the family of the victim to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If the person at fault for the injuries is also associated with criminal charges, the statute of limitations may extend from one year to two years for the victim to file a claim.
While there is not a cap on economic damages, there is a cap on compensation for non-economic and punitive damages in Tennessee. Non-economic damages are capped at $750,000, which increases to $1 million in cases where the victim experiences a catastrophic injury. Injuries that are considered catastrophic are:
Spinal cord injuries
Amputation of 2 hands, 2 feet, or 1 of each
Third-degree burns over 40% or more of the body
Wrongful death of the parent of a minor child
Punitive damages are capped at $500,000 or two times the compensatory damages – whichever is greater.
The state of Tennessee follows the comparative negligence rule, which reduces your earned compensation by the percentage you are at fault for your personal injury in the accident. If you are found to be 50% or more at fault for the accident, you will not be able to seek financial compensation for your losses. If you are 49% or less at fault for the accident, you will be able to recover compensation and the settlement amount will be reduced by the percentage you are at fault for the accident.
It is important that you understand the statute of limitations for your state so that you can receive the compensation that you deserve. The lawyers at Wettermark Keith in Knoxville and Chattanooga are ready to guide you through the entire process. Contact us today to start your personal injury case.
WHY ARE THE STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS OF AN ACCIDENT IMPORTANT?
The statutes of limitations for accidents are important because they provide a time limit for the victim of an accident to file a legal claim against the negligent party seeking compensation for their injuries. These time limits vary depending on the jurisdiction and the type of accident or injury involved. Statutes of limitations are an important part of the legal system that ensures fairness and efficiency in resolving disputes related to accidents and injuries.
Statutes of limitations help make sure that evidence and witness testimony remains reliable and relevant. Over time, memories fade and evidence can be lost or destroyed; therefore, setting a time limit for legal claims ensures that cases have fresh and available evidence. Statutes of limitations also provide finality to disputes. Once the time limit has passed, a victim loses their right to seek compensation, leaving the defendant no longer legally responsible for the accident. They can also prevent fraudulent claims since victims must act promptly to make a claim within a reasonable time period.
WHAT IF I MISSED THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS ON MY ACCIDENT AND INJURIES?
If you missed the statute of limitations on your accident and injuries, you are most likely going to be barred from filing a lawsuit and seeking compensation for your losses from that incident. This is because the statute of limitations is a strict deadline that cannot be extended or waived, except in very rare circumstances. On occasion, there may be an exception that applies to your situation, such as filing a claim for an accident that occurred when you were a minor.
Due to these instances of exception, if you have missed the statute of limitations, you may still want to speak with a personal injury attorney to discuss your options. You also have the option of trying to negotiate a settlement with the other party's insurance company outside of court; however, the insurance company will be much less willing to negotiate if the statute of limitations has passed since their legal obligation is up.
This is why it is very important to take action as soon as possible after an accident. After securing medical attention, you need to contact an attorney to seek legal advice. This will ensure that you are protecting your rights and maximizing your chances of obtaining fair compensation for your injuries and damages due to the accident.
WETTERMARK KEITH: PERSONAL INJURY LAW FIRM
The lawyers at our firm are dedicated and ready to assist you with your personal injury lawsuit. The best part is that if we do not win your case, you do not owe us anything. We are here to help you receive the compensation you deserve for your personal injury case. Contact us today for a free consultation!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, there is a time limit for personal injury claims, known as the statute of limitations, which varies depending on the state and type of injury. It is important to act quickly to protect your rights and ensure maximum compensation in your case.
In Alabama, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the date of injury or discovery of the injury. After this time period, an injured person generally cannot file a lawsuit seeking compensation for their injuries. There are some exceptions to this rule, so it is best to consult with an attorney if you are unsure about your specific situation.
In Tennessee, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is generally one year from the date of injury or discovery of the injury. However, there are some exceptions and variations depending on the type of case and the specific circumstances involved. It's important to consult with a qualified attorney to determine the applicable statute of limitations for your particular case.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is generally two years from the date of the injury. However, there are some exceptions that may apply, such as cases involving medical malpractice or wrongful death, which have different deadlines. It is important to consult with an attorney to determine the specific time limits that apply to your case.
If you missed the statute of limitations for your personal injury case, it's likely that your case will be dismissed by the court. Generally, the statute of limitations is a hard deadline, and there are few exceptions to it. In some cases, the statute of limitations may be extended due to certain circumstances, such as if the injured person was a minor or if they were incapacitated. However, these exceptions are rare and specific to certain situations. If you miss the deadline, you may not be able to recover compensation for your injuries, so it's important to act quickly and seek legal advice as soon as possible.
HERE'S WHAT TO DO NEXT
If you or a loved one have been injured and think you might have a case, call us now for a free consultation.