When a careless or reckless driver causes an Alabama car accident, the state’s tort laws allow victims to recover compensation for their related losses. This is done through the state’s civil court system if it cannot be accomplished through an insurance claim and settled outside of court.
Victims can hire a personal injury law firm to handle this process on their behalf, allowing them to continue focusing on their treatment and healing from their injuries or getting back to their everyday life.
Read on to learn more about how these cases work in our Alabama car accident lawsuit guide.
When Is a Lawsuit Necessary After an Alabama Car Accident?
Most crash claims settle outside of court. It can be difficult to recover fair compensation for an injury claim through negotiations with the insurance company representing an at-fault driver. However, it is still the most common way victims get money damages.
However, some situations call for more serious action. It may be necessary to file a lawsuit, and the case could go to trial when:
- The insurer will not provide a fair settlement offer
- There are questions of fact that cannot be resolved out of court
- Other disputes or disagreements must be settled
- The other party accuses the victim of contributing to the crash
- The other driver is uninsured
- The deadline set by the state’s statute of limitations (Ala. Code § 6-2-38) is near
If you are working with an attorney, your legal team will discuss with you in detail if a lawsuit may be necessary.
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Understanding the Steps of a Car Accident Lawsuit
You will need to navigate several steps for your car accident case to go before a judge and/or jury at trial. These include:
Preparing and Filing a Complaint
When we talk about the deadline to sue, we refer to the official filing of the complaint against the at-fault driver or another liable party. Your attorney will prepare and write this complaint, then file it with the appropriate court. The complaint will outline the case, name the accused party or parties, and ask for specific relief, usually compensation for your damages.
Serving the Defendant and Getting a Response
Once your attorney files the complaint, they will ensure the defendant receives a copy and is officially notified of the pending case against them. That party and their lawyer will then have a limited time to respond. This response should tell their side of the story and give you a good idea of the angle they may take in court.
Discovery usually takes longer than any other step in the car accident lawsuit process. Each side investigates the accident, gathers and shares evidence, and works to build a strong case. You may be asked to answer written or verbal questions under oath, known as interrogatories and depositions, respectively.
This process could take several months. Delays are common and should be expected. Your attorney can provide you with regular updates.
Mediation and Settlements
Settlement talks may continue throughout this process, and it is not unusual for cases to end before going to trial because a fair settlement is reached. Some courts require mediation (negotiations with a trained third-party mediator) or other settlement talks before the judge will put a trial date on the docket.
During the trial, there are generally three parts—opening statements, arguments, and closing statements—where each side presents its case and asks the judge and/or jury to rule in its favor. Next, the jury or judge will deliberate, and all parties will learn the verdict.
Possible Outcomes of an Alabama Car Accident Lawsuit Trial
There are several ways your car accident lawsuit could end:
- Your attorney could reach an out-of-court settlement with the at-fault party’s representatives.
- You could get a verdict in your favor and receive a court award for your damages.
- The jury could rule on behalf of the defendant, and you will not recover money damages.
You can discuss the likely outcomes of your case with your car accident attorney, who should offer advice and guidance throughout this process and manage your lawsuit and negotiations.
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Speak to a Car Accident Attorney from Morris Bart & Associates, LLC
At the Morris Bart law firm, our attorneys will review your case for free. If you have any questions about anything you read in this Alabama car accident lawsuit guide or have other concerns about your legal options, we encourage you to connect with us for a free consultation.
We have several offices in Alabama—including Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery— and can meet with you anywhere in the state. Reach out to our team for free today.
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