Of all of the things that can have the most immediate, consequential, and serious impact on a person’s life, suffering an injury that results from someone else’s negligence or reckless actions may be one of the most devastating. Not only will suffering an injury impact a person financially, but it can also impact them physically and psychologically as well. What’s more, unlike a natural disaster or a major life change, a personal injury is something that no one is planning for. This makes a serious injury that much more shocking and traumatic.
If you have suffered a personal injury, our Alabama personal injury lawyer at the Zach Peagler Law Firm can help. We know what you’re going through, and we can provide you with the legal guidance and moral support you need during this difficult time.
Alabama Personal Injury Practice Areas
We believe that if you have suffered a serious injury, you deserve to be represented by an attorney who has experience working on cases like yours and understands best practices for client representation and settlement securement. Over the more than two decades that Attorney Zach Peagler has been working on personal injury cases, he has helped clients involved in numerous different accident types. Our personal injury practice areas include but are not limited to:
If you are involved in an accident that you believe was caused by the fault of another and you don’t see the specific practice area listed above, please call us. We are able to apply our skills to a wide range of personal injury case types.
The Basics of Negligence
The basis of the majority of personal injury claims is proving that the defendant breached the standard of care owed to you, that the breach was the proximate cause of the accident, and that the accident resulted in actual damages. Proving that the defendant breached the standard of care essentially means proving that the defendant acted negligently, which is the failure to exercise the reasonable amount of care for a given situation or to act with the same level of care that a person of reasonable prudence would demonstrate.
Negligence can occur in many forms. For example, in a car accident case, driving while distracted is a form of negligence. In a slip and fall case, a property owner’s failure to remedy a dangerous condition on the property is negligence. In a defective products case, failing to distribute a product free from dangerous manufacturing defects is negligence. Our lawyer can assess your case to determine how your accident occurred, whose negligence is to blame, and who should be held liable.
Contributory Fault in an Alabama Personal Injury Case
While most states allow a victim to recover compensation by filing a claim against a defendant, so long as the victim’s negligence is not greater than that of the defendant’s, such is not the case in Alabama. Instead, Alabama applies the harsh rule of contributory fault, which holds that a plaintiff cannot recover compensation from a defendant if the plaintiff “contributed” to the accident at all, even a mere one percent.
This could be a major complication in recovering a settlement, especially if your case goes to trial. As such, it is critical to work with a skilled attorney who will know how to gather evidence to prove the fault of the defendant and disprove any allegations of fault made against you.
When you have been injured, you have the right to seek compensation for the full value of your losses if you can prove the defendant’s negligence. This includes compensation for your economic losses and non-economic losses. Specifically, we can assist you in recovering compensation for:
Future medical and healthcare expenses;
Lost wages and expected lost wages;
Property damage costs;
In most personal injury claim types, damages are not limited. (There are exceptions to the rule for claims against the government, medical malpractice claims, and product liability claims. Punitive damages, which are designed to punish the defendant, are also capped.)
Special Compensatory Damages
Special damages are meant to compensate for financial expenses incurred due to an injury. They are unique to the individual plaintiff and differ vastly from one case to the next. A special damages award should make a victim whole for the medical bills or for monetary losses due to the accident or incident that lead to their injuries.
The purpose of special damages is to cover any costs or losses pertaining to an injury. There are no limitations on the types of special damages claims that can be filed or the amount an injury victim can claim. The following are some examples of common types of special damages:
Loss of income
Loss of future income
Expenses related to future medical care
Costs associated with altered plans or canceled trips
General Compensatory Damages
General damages are meant to compensate an injury victim for the non-monetary damages that they incurred. These damages are known as “general damages” as they compensate for the harm that is usually or “generally” sustained in an injury. It is expected that all personal injury victims will have incurred at least some degree of general damages. Some common types of general damages are:
Pain and suffering
Loss of companionship or consortium
Punitive damages are awarded to a victim only in cases where the defendant displayed contemptible and despicable behavior. These types of damages are commonly awarded when a defendant is found guilty of malicious or deliberate acts or fraud.
Fraudulent behavior, sexual assault, or aggravated battery are examples of acts that cause extensive financial harm. On occasion, in prominent injury lawsuits such as those involving faulty products or medical risks linked with prescription meds, juries will award the plaintiff damages against manufacturers and other defendants with “deep pockets.”
Collect Maximum Compensation in your Personal Injury Claim
An individual injured by the recklessness or wrongful conduct of another is entitled to claim “pain and suffering” damages. In Alabama, the phrase “pain and suffering” describes compensable damages for mental anguish or physical pain resulting from a personal injury.
Emotional distress is a component of mental anguish. Under Alabama law, pain and suffering damages include physical pain, and the injured individual may also recover for anxiety, nervousness, shock, worry, grief, apprehension, ordeal, or embarrassment.
Courts have largely not attempted to distinguish between the aspects of “pain” and “suffering.” There is no fixed monetary standard to compensate for mental anguish and physical pain in Alabama.
In each case, compensation is left to the jury’s discretion to determine the amount that would fairly and reasonably compensate the plaintiff for the mental anguish and physical pain they have undergone due to the injury.
As no fixed monetary standard exists, pain and suffering claims are heavily contended in court. In such cases, your Alabama personal injury attorney’s skill and competence can make all the difference. If your lawyer can gather robust evidence and present strong arguments to showcase your pain and suffering, they can help you obtain the maximum possible compensation for your losses.
Alabama Statute of Limitations
As you start the process of coping with your injuries and losses, and consider filing a personal injury claim and meeting with a lawyer, you need to be aware of the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a limit on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. In Alabama, the statute of limitations is two years from the date that your injury occurred. If you don’t file your lawsuit within the two-year limit, it is highly unlikely that a judge will agree to hear your case. It is best to meet with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss the possibility of a personal injury claim, as well as whether or not your case is likely to result in a lawsuit.
Standard Time Limit for AL Personal Injury Lawsuits: Two Years
Section 6-2-38 of the Alabama Code describes the statute of limitations that will be applicable to your AL personal injury lawsuit. This statute sets a two-year time limit for filing any civil case seeking damages (civil remedy) “for any injury to the person.”
This two-year time limit applies to personal injury lawsuits based on the principle of “negligence” (which applies to lawsuits filed after a car crash, slip and fall accident, and other types of incidents) and internal tort (such as civil cases over an assault). In a majority of situations, the time starts on the date when your accident or injury occurred.
What if the Filing Deadline has Passed?
If you try to file your personal injury claim after the two-year deadline has elapsed, the defendant will almost surely bring this up and ask the court to dismiss your case. The court will dismiss the case unless a rare exception entitles you to more time to file the lawsuit (more about these exceptions later).
The personal injury statute of limitations in AL is obviously vital if you want to bring forth a formal lawsuit. However, this statutory filing time limit is also crucial to your bargaining power in personal injury settlement negotiations with the other party and their insurer.
If the two-year filing deadline has passed without you filing your personal injury lawsuit, and the other party is aware of it, you will have lost your negotiating power. “I’ll see you in court” is merely an empty threat when the court will no longer entertain your case.
Medical Malpractice Actions
Any actions against medical practitioners must be filed within a period of two years after the date of the act when the injury occurred, or within six months of the date when the injury was or should have been identified. Under no circumstances may a case be filed more than four years after the date of the act that gave rise to the injury. This filing deadline also applies to minors above the age of four years. But if a minor is below four years of age, that minor has until their eighth birthday to file a medical malpractice suit.
Products Liability Actions
The statute of limitations for torts also applies to product-liability lawsuits unless the injury resulted in a fatality. In such cases, the statute of limitations in a wrongful death act controls AL Law of Damages.
The provisions of the statute of limitations of the AL product liability statute have been deemed unconstitutional. Thus, when there is a claim that a defective product caused the death, the statute of limitations provisions of the wrongful death statute would apply.
The Alabama Personal Injury Statute of Limitations: Exceptions
AL has determined various scenarios that may delay the statute of limitations “clock” or pause the clock after it starts running, which effectively extends the deadline for filing. For instance, if at the time of an incident that could give rise to a legal matter, the injured individual is below the age of 19 years or has been declared “insane,” the injured individual is thought to be under a “legal disability” in AL.
On top of this, under AL law, after the disability period ends, the injured individual turns 19 or is declared sane, they will have two years to get a civil case filed against the party who is at-fault for the accident. However, the filing deadline cannot be extended any further if more than 20 years have elapsed since the underlying incident.
When the defendant (the party who is allegedly at-fault for the plaintiff’s injuries) “is absent from the state” of AL at any time after the underlying accident, before the case can be filed, it is considered another exception. In such cases, the duration of absence will not likely be included in the two-year filing (or in other words, the clock will remain “paused” during this period).
It is a good idea to consult a seasoned AL personal injury attorney for clarifications on how the statute of limitations pertains to your personal injury matter, particularly if the deadline is rapidly approaching or has already passed.
The Role of Judges, Juries, and Attorneys
In each personal injury case, there are multiple parties involved. The person filing a claim is the plaintiff, while the individual or party against which the claim is filed is known as the defendant. The burden of establishing negligence falls on the shoulders of the plaintiff, which makes it vital to work with the foremost legal team.
Most personal injury cases are settled outside of a courtroom, but such cases may be brought before a judge or jury. In general, personal injury cases are resolved through negotiations, where the plaintiff’s legal team and the defendant’s legal counsel agree on a compensatory amount and a payment plan.
The Initial Steps in a Personal Injury Claim
Make sure that you get medical assistance as soon as possible if you are injured due to the negligence of another person or entity. In the absence of medical records, it is not likely that you will have grounds for a claim.
Once you seek medical care and are safe, consult a personal injury lawyer at the first opportunity. Positive outcomes are more likely if you have a skilled legal team working for you from the outset of the case when they are in a position to obtain maximum evidence to support your claim.
Personal Injury Case: Stages
A qualified legal team will guide you on preparing the necessary documentation as well as the steps to take going forward. You must retain all medical paperwork, including receipts and documentation on diagnosis and future medical treatment.
Your lawyer will start investigating your case, and on the basis of the proof, offer you details on what your damages could potentially include. Evidence may comprise police reports, accounts of witnesses, and more.
Subsequently, your legal counsel will develop a settlement proposal to present to the defendant. This will lay out your compensation demand and the substantive evidence that you have collected against the party to establish their fault. At this stage, the settlement negotiation process commences in most cases.
When the Defendant Rejects the Proposal
When presented with your settlement proposal, it is within the defendant’s right to reject it. You may receive a counter proposal from their legal team or may have to file a suit against them and appear before a judge. The case will progress from this point, either through more negotiation and mediation, or a trial.
If your personal injury case is denied by a judge, you have the legal right to appeal this decision.
It is important to remember that if you win a settlement in a personal injury claim, the payment may not come as fast as you expect. At times, it can take several months, or even, years before you get the compensation.
You may receive the compensation as a lump sum, which is a single payment made for the entire amount. In addition, you may collect your compensation as annuity payments, or smaller payment amounts spread over a prolonged period.
How Our Alabama Personal Injury Lawyers Can Serve You
We understand the fear and anxiety you’re experiencing, as well as the apprehension that you might have about working with a lawyer. We know that working with a legal professional has the potential to greatly improve the outcome of your case and the chances of you recovering the compensation award you deserve. Our lawyer will handle all elements of your case, including an investigation, the hiring of experts, organization of evidence and claim documents, calculation of damages, issuing a demand letter, negotiating your claim, and pursuing litigation if necessary.
Zach devotes his time to you. In fact, a leading law firm will have the patience and compassion to listen to and address your questions and concerns, whether it be a car crash or any other cause for your injuries. Zach knows that he should work for you, and not vice-versa.
Zach treats his clients with respect. You want to work with a law firm that listens to and values your perspective, addresses your concerns, and welcomes your critique. After all, it is your case on the line.
Meticulous and Professional
Zach is not messy or disorganized, because he values your business. A chaotic law firm usually results in an unimpressive case on a variety of levels, which is the last thing you want for your personal injury claim.
Quality is another aspect to consider when identifying a top-notch law firm. You might already be aware that a majority of complaints filed against attorneys are regarding their inability to communicate with clients in an effective manner. Zach works for the best possible outcome for the cases of his clients.
Forthright and Candid
False guarantees are a very dangerous proposition. Zach is always honest and straightforward with his clients. He shares all news, whether good or bad, with his clients as sugar-coating can only lead to disappointment and resentment.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Experienced Alabama Personal Injury Attorney Today
You don’t have to navigate the personal injury claims process on your own – our lawyer is here to assist you. We offer free consultations, and we always work on a contingency fee basis. If you have been injured, you can count on our lawyer and our team to put you first and work hard for you.
To schedule your free case consultation, please call our law firm directly at (205) 871-9990. You can also reach us by sending us a message using the intake form on our website, or visiting our law office in person.
The following language is required pursuant to Rule 7.2, Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct. No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.