Alabama Personal Injury Law
Statutes of Limitations: The amount of time you have to sue whoever caused your injury or damage.
- Personal Injury – 2 years
- Damage to Personal Property – 6 years
- Medical malpractice – 2 years, but if the injury is discovered after two years, then 6 months from the date of discovery
- Legal malpractice – 2 years
- Other professional malpractice – 2 years
Where to Sue:
- Personal injury claims under $3,000 – Small Claims Court
- Personal injury claims $3,000 to $10,000-Alabama District Court.
- Personal injury claims $10,000 or more – Alabama Circuit Court
How to Sue:
Small Claims Court:
- Forms: Alabama Statement of Claim (Form SM-01)
- Where to file: Where the defendant lives or where property damage or injury occurred.
- How to notify the defendant (service): Certified mail with return receipt requested with copy of Form SM-01 and
Alabama Small Claims Summons (Form SM-07) or service should be personally delivered to the defendant by a local county sheriff.
- Proving the defendant was notified: The sheriff must endorse a copy of the service that was delivered to the defendant and deliver it to the clerk of the court.
- Attorneys: Attorney representation at the trial is allowed in Alabama Small Claims Court.
- Appealing a small claim: Both the defendant and the plaintiff may appeal to the Alabama Circuit Court for a new trial within 14 days of the initial judgment.
Alabama District Court: Consult a qualified Alabama personal injury attorney for help. The process and completion of forms when filing a personal injury suit are complicated, and you should not attempt to file your claim without an attorney. Errors could cause you to have your claim dismissed and other possible consequences.
- Forms: Alabama Civil Complaint and Alabama District Court Summons. Obtain copies of the Civil Complaint and Summons from the district in Alabama where you are suing
(Middle District of Alabama, Northern District of Alabama, Southern District of Alabama). Make copies for yourself, the defendant, and the court.
- How to File: File copies of the Alabama Civil Complaint and the Alabama District Court Summons with the clerk of the court in the District Court where the defendant lives, or where the injury or property damage occurred.
- How to Notify the Defendant: A sheriff must give the forms stamped by the clerk to the defendant personally, sign a copy of the summons, keep a copy for himself, and file a copy with the clerk of the district court.
What to Do if You Are Being Sued:
- Time to respond to a Summons in Alabama: 14 days.
- Consult an attorney immediately.
- Notify your insurance company if your injury is related to an incident that occurred at your home or business. If you are covered for the claim, your insurance company will provide attorney representation.
What to Do if a Judgment Was Entered Against You:
If you do not respond to a summons and complaint in Alabama, a judgment may be entered against you. This means that the plaintiff wins and you must pay whatever they claim you owe for damages.
- Time to Set Aside a Judgment in Alabama:
- An Alabama District Court may set aside a judgment up to 14 days, and an Alabama Circuit Court up to 30 days from the entry of judgment for mistake, surprise, excusable neglect, or if you did not have “actual” notice of the lawsuit
- Consult an attorney if a default judgment has been entered against you.
Ways to Collect Your Judgment:
- If you are successful in your Alabama personal injury lawsuit, you may collect your judgment by putting a lien on the debtor’s property, garnishing the debtor’s wages, or directing the sheriff to take money from the debtor’s bank account.
- Request aid from an experienced Alabama debt collection attorney to collect your judgment.