After a serious accident, the timing of your lawsuit is critical. Unfortunately, many people don’t know how long after a car accident can you claim injury. When they wait too long, they may miss out on valuable compensation. In this article, Petro Law Firm explains Alabama’s filing deadlines and other timing issues that can significantly impact the strength and value of your claims.
What Is Alabama’s Statute of Limitations for Injury Claims?
A statute of limitations is a filing deadline—it dictates know how long after car accident can you claim injury. If you do not properly file your lawsuit before this deadline expires, the court can reject your claim—and you will lose out on damages and compensation. The statute of limitations may vary, depending on your situation, but you typically have two years from the date of injury to file your personal injury claim.
For example, if a drunk driver runs a red light and smashes into your car, you will have two years to file your lawsuit. If you file your complaint even one day after the deadline expires, you may lose out on compensation.
When Can You Extend Alabama’s Statute of Limitations?
Admittedly, Alabama has a very strict filing deadline. You can’t pause it while you’re trying to negotiate a settlement, and there are very few exceptions to the rule. However, there are several important caveats:
- Discovery: If you could not reasonably discover your injuries within two years, you must file your injury claim no more than six months after identifying your cause of action.
- Minors: Children must file their lawsuit within two years from their 19th
- Mentally incapacitated: If you do not have the mental abilities to file your lawsuit, you have two years after regaining your mental capacity—but no more than 20 years from the accident.
- Lawsuits against the government: There are shorter (and very strict) notice and filing deadlines when you’re suing a government entity.
However, you should never rely on a longer-than-usual statute of limitations. Alabama is incredibly strict about filing deadlines. If you need help calculating your timeframe, contact a lawyer immediately.
What Happens if I Miss the Statute of Limitations?
In Alabama, insurance companies always identify the filing deadlines in their claims. If you file a lawsuit after the statute expires, the insurer will almost immediately file a motion with the court—demanding a dismissal.
The court will schedule a hearing and you will have a chance to respond to the insurance company’s arguments. However, unless you fall into one of Alabama’s exceptions, it is likely that the judge will dismiss or close your case. If this happens, you’ll lose out on compensation and the at-fault party will not be held accountable for their actions.
To protect yourself, it is in your best interest to act quickly and file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires.
3 Reasons Why You Need to Act Quickly After an Injury
While the statute of limitations is essential to your claim, there are many reasons why you should act quickly after a car accident or another negligent act.
1. Lost Evidence
Over time, evidence can easily disappear. Tire marks fade. Trucks get repaired. Parts get thrown away. Surveillance video is deleted. While this information may be critical to your injury claims, it may be lost forever if you wait too long.
This is especially true in truck accident claims. Under federal law, trucking companies can destroy their logbooks, maintenance ledgers, and other information after a certain amount of time. If you fail to preserve this evidence, you may be unable to prove trucking violations that could significantly increase the value of your claim.
2. Missing Witnesses
Memories fade and people move away. If you wait too long, eyewitnesses may be unable to recall important details that substantiate your claims. Sometimes, important witnesses leave the state, change their phone number, or even pass away.
3. Insurance Companies Are Skeptical of “Late” Claims
Insurance companies are always looking for reasons to deny your claim. If you file a lawsuit at the last minute, the insurer may think that your injuries are not as severe as you claim—or that you’re just trying to get a quick settlement. This skepticism can lead to a denied or undervalued claim.
How Long After Car Accident Can You Claim Injury? We Can Help!
For many accident victims, filing deadlines and statutes of limitations are overwhelming and confusing. It’s easy to lose track of time and valuable compensation. If you’re unsure what to do and can’t calculate your limitations period, contact Petro Law Firm.
Our team offers free consultations and can quickly identify how much time you have left to file your lawsuit. We’ll also teach you about Alabama’s injury laws and suggest strategies that can help strengthen your claims.