In Alabama — as in other jurisdictions — personal injury claims are subject to a statute of limitations period. The statute of limitations sets a “deadline” by which the claim must be brought. If the limitations deadline passes, then the claim cannot be pursued in an Alabama court of law (absent various exceptions).
If you have suffered injuries caused by another’s negligence or intentional misconduct, then you may have an actionable claim for damages — but bringing a claim isn’t always as straightforward as one might think. In many cases, an injury might be suffered where the plaintiff doesn’t realize (at first) that they are entitled to pursue a lawsuit. They might not know that their injuries were caused by someone else.
For example, if your car spins out of control and slams a tree, you might think it was your own mistake that caused the accident. Further investigation could reveal that the steering wheel was faulty, however, thus giving rise to a claim against the auto manufacturer.
The discovery rule works by extending the applicable statute of limitations period. It suspends the running of the limitations period until the date that the defendant discovers that they have suffered a legally actionable injury.
Let’s take a closer look at the rule and its inner workings.
The basic statute of limitations in Alabama for personal injury claims is two years from the date of injury. This can be extended through the application of the discovery rule.
The Alabama discovery rule suspends the running of the statute of limitations if the circumstances are such that plaintiff cannot reasonably know they have an actionable claim against the defendant. This can be due to their not having “discovered” that they are injured, or that they are legally entitled to sue.
For example, if you are hit in a low-speed car accident, then you may suffer minor spinal alignment issues that don’t crop-up until a year or more after the accident’s occurrence. When you discover that you have suffered a spinal injury (and that the injury is linked to the car accident), then the statute of limitations period will begin to run.
Here at Cross & Smith, our team has decades of experience representing the interests of injured plaintiffs throughout Alabama, and in a wide variety of disputes: from motor vehicle accident litigation to slip-and-fall litigation. The breadth and depth of our experiences have given us extraordinary insight into the dynamics of litigation and how best to navigate a dispute so as to secure a favorable result.
If you’d like to speak to a skilled Tuscaloosa injury attorney at our firm, we encourage you to call us at 205-391-0618 or send us an intake form through our website to schedule a free and confidential consultation today. We look forward to providing the assistance you need to move forward.