If you have been injured in as a result of a car accident, a slip and fall, an accident at work, a negligent doctor, or a defective product, you likely have the ability to file what attorneys refer to as a “personal injury” lawsuit. At Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., our personal injury lawyers are experienced in handling these lawsuits, and in obtaining a maximum and just recovery for our clients. However, many people are confused as to what a personal injury lawsuit even is, and how they would go about filing one when injured.
Table of Contents
- 1 Personal Injury Claims in Huntsville
- 2 Negligence
- 3 When is Someone Negligent?
- 4 Product Liability
- 5 The Nuts and Bolts of Your Personal Injury Claim
- 6 Get Help with your Personal Injury Lawsuit in Huntsville
Personal Injury Claims in Huntsville
Personal injury lawsuits come in many shapes and sizes depending on how you have been injured, but all personal injury lawsuits exist in the realm of “tort” law. A tort lawsuit occurs when you—the injured party—have suffered some type of injury as a result of the wrongdoing of another person, a company, or some other entity. Personal injury lawsuits are a particular type of tort lawsuit, in that the injury suffered is to you, directly, and not to your property, a business, or some other type of entity. These are sometimes referred to as “bodily injury” cases for that reason. In all such lawsuits, you are what attorneys refer to as the “plaintiff”—the injured party who is suing. The other person or company who you are suing is the “defendant”—the party that you believe has wronged you or is at fault for your injuries.
By far, the most common type of personal injury lawsuit we see at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., is a claim the other party who injured you was legally negligent. Personal injury cases frequently stem from car accidents and truck accidents that cause serious injuries as a result of a driver’s negligence. The person who sustains the serious injuries may have a legal right to seek compensation from the at-fault driver and recover their insurance company. For example, if you were struck by a car and suffered injuries, you and your attorney would argue that the other driver was negligent because he, for example, was speeding, failed to stop at an intersection, ran a red light, or was otherwise doing something he should not have been doing (or did not do something he should have been doing). In some cases, a wrongful death case can be brought when a person’s negligence results in the death of a family member.
When is Someone Negligent?
Courts have developed numerous tests to determine when and how people may be determined legally negligent. The most basic is a four-part test: the party must have had a legal duty to do something, must have breached that duty, the breach of that duty must have caused the damages you suffered, and, finally, damages must be proven. Generally, the damages you suffered must have been physical in some way.
Although it is sometimes difficult to consider, the law imposes duties on essentially all people, in almost any activity. In the case of a car accident, the law imposes a duty on all drivers to drive safely and reasonably. If you were struck by a car while you were obeying all traffic laws, and driving safely, chances are more than likely that the driver who hit you was violating his or her legal duty to drive reasonably and safely. Assuming that your injuries can be clearly traced to the accident and that your injuries are physical, you would have a personal injury case against the other driver for negligence.
There are many exceptions and complexities involved in even the most basic of negligence personal injury cases. However, our team of experienced personal injury and trial attorneys at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., has over 100 years of combined legal experience in all manners of negligence cases. If you believe you have such a claim, it is vital that you seek our trusted litigators like those on our team to achieve a maximum recovery.
Another common type of personal injury action is a product liability case. In these cases, a faulty or defective product causes personal injury or wrongful death, such as a lawnmower that injures a child, or a tire loses its tread causing a vehicle to rollover.
In Alabama, there is a tort claim under the Alabama Extended Manufacturer’s Liability Doctrine (AEMLD), which is a modification of the theory of strict liability. You can bring a claim against the manufacturer of a defective product for design defects, manufacturing defects or marketing defects which cause personal injury.
The Nuts and Bolts of Your Personal Injury Claim
To pursue a personal injury claim, there are several steps in the claims process. The process can vary by case, and most claims do not go through every step. The steps are explained briefly below:
Personal Injury Claim Huntsville: The Initial Consultation
After you call, the process starts when you meet an attorney. The initial consultation to discuss your case is free. This is where you have personal and individual contact with our personal injury attorneys. At this meeting, you discuss the details of the case, your injuries and attorney’s fees. At our firm, we handle injury cases on a contingency basis, which means our clients do not pay us anything unless we obtain a settlement or court award for them.
At Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., our experienced attorneys investigate each case thoroughly to gather the evidence and build the most compelling case. If your case is one that we can handle, we will investigate the accident scene carefully, interview witnesses, and identify the potentially responsible parties and potential sources of compensation. We will keep you informed of our progress. In some cases, we work with accident reconstruction experts to pinpoint precisely how a serious accident occurred. In other cases, we may use financial planners to estimate the lifetime costs of your injuries if you will have a permanent disability and require ongoing medical care or living assistance. That allows us to negotiate toward a settlement from the strongest position.
Personal Injury Settlement Huntsville
Most personal injury claims end in settlements out of court and never go to trial. When we take a case, we notify a responsible party and their insurance company of a pending claim. We work to identify the amounts of insurance coverage available. If we are able to negotiate an informal settlement of a claim, you will receive compensation without going to trial.
Once your medical treatment is complete, we can collect your medical bills and records and submit a settlement brochure on your behalf. Your personal injury attorney will put together a settlement demand once all of the damages and expenses related to your injury are fully understood.
Insurance companies do not like to go to court and typically will settle a case to avoid the uncertainty and expense of a prolonged trial. But a quick settlement offer from an insurer is often a low offer and not reflective of the true value of the case.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Huntsville
If a settlement cannot be reached, then your attorney (for the plaintiff) may file a complaint to start a lawsuit and state your claims in court. Next, the defendants (the parties sued) will file an answer, stating their defenses to the claim.
After these documents are filed, the parties will begin discovery, which is a formal process of exchanging evidence. The parties usually take depositions to ask questions of the parties and witnesses. The parties may retain expert witnesses, who also testify in this phase.
The attorneys at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., are experienced negotiators when it comes to dealing with insurance companies. Our goal is to obtain a settlement that reflects the seriousness of your injuries. In some cases, a mediator may oversee negotiations between the parties through the process of mediation.
Sometimes, insurance companies do not get serious about reaching a settlement until a case is scheduled for trial. We are prepared to seek justice in the courtroom.
If the case has not been settled or resolved, a trial will occur, either before a judge or a full jury. Each case has its own set of facts, but we are confident of our skills as trial attorneys and have achieved outstanding results for many clients in Alabama. The fact that we are willing to take cases to trial works to the benefit of our clients.
If you or the other side loses, and believe a legal error has occurred, either party can appeal the decision. Once all appeals have been exhausted, the lawsuit is over.
Personal Injury Claims Huntsville: Statute of Limitations
There is a limited amount of time in which to file a personal injury claim in Alabama.
The statute of limitations is the amount of time allowed by law to file a claim. If you do not file a claim within the statute of limitations, you may lose the legal right to seek compensation for injuries. Our attorneys are available to review your injury and discuss with you the statute of limitations for filing a claim and protecting your legal rights.
Generally speaking, Alabama law allows a competent adult two years from the date of the injury to bring a negligence claim. There may be exceptions for minor children under age 19. However, the deadline for filing a claim against a government agency may be as short as six months. Claims take time to investigate and prepare, so it is important to have an Alabama personal injury attorney start working on your case as soon as possible so that you do not miss a deadline.
Get Help with your Personal Injury Lawsuit in Huntsville
The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits end in settlements before or shortly after the filing of a claim in court, to avoid the complexities and uncertainties of trial. These settlements can often net our clients tremendous recoveries without the time and stress of going before a judge or jury. In any case, it is extremely critical that a skilled attorney guide you through the steps and legal arguments you may need to prevail. If you select Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., you will have the skill and experience of an Alabama law firm that other attorneys and legal publications have recognized for exceptional legal representation. Our track record of success speaks for itself.
If you think that we can assist you or your loved one, contact us for a free courtesy consultation. From our Huntsville office, we handle personal injury cases across North Alabama and beyond, including Huntsville, Albertville, Athens, Decatur, Florence and Scottsboro. It is important to understand your legal options, and it does not cost you anything except a few minutes of your time. The Huntsville personal injury lawyers at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., are ready to help you, as we have helped many Alabamians. When experience matters, contact Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. Call us now or fill out our online contact form to start your claim.