Statute of Limitations in Alabama Injury Claims - Discovery Rule (2024)

Statute of Limitations in Alabama Injury Claims - Discovery Rule (1)If you sustain injuries because of a person or entity’s negligence in Alabama, you have a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit in order to preserve your claim for your injuries. Known as statutes of limitations, these deadlines vary by state. To help you file your lawsuit in a timely manner, learn about Alabama’s statutes before contacting a legal professional.

Personal injury claims come in many forms, such as slip and fall accidents among other premise liability claims, vehicular accidents, nursing home abuse, construction site accidents and other workplace incidents, assault, and product liability. Most personal injury claims relate to negligence with the exception of assault and battery. Any physical harm that is deemed intentional is known as intentional tort in a court of law.

In Alabama, the standard statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. The “clock” typically starts on the statute from the date of the incident, such as the day of the car accident.

The two-year deadline also applies to wrongful death cases. For example, if an individual dies from the injuries they sustain in a truck accident, the statute of limitations starts on the day of the incident resulting in death. Should the injured party or their surviving family members wish to file a lawsuit over vehicular damage, they have six years to do so as per Alabama Code section 6-2-34 (2021).

Exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations for injury claims

Generally, if a plaintiff files a personal injury claim in Alabama after the two-year statute of limitations has passed, their case will be dismissed by the court. However, there are exceptions where the court grants extensions, especially for minors.

If the plaintiff is a minor when he or she is injured, the statute is “tolled” (or extended) until he or she is 19 years old. From that day, he or she has two years to file a lawsuit or claim. If the child was under the age of four, however, the lawsuit must commence by the victim’s eighth birthday.

If the minor is found legally “insane,” incompetent, or incapacitated, the statute of limitations may also be extended. The new “clock” starts running when the victim turns 19 or is declared mentally sane. He or she then has two years to file a lawsuit or claim.

Other exceptions to the rules include:

  • Claims against municipalities/cities/towns, which must be filed within six months of the date of the injury
  • Claims against defendants who have died, which must be filed within six months of the beginning of the probate process
  • Claims against the County, which must be filed within one year
  • Product liability claims against an original seller, which must be filed within one year
  • Injury claims related to contracts, which must be filed within six years

The state also grants exceptions to plaintiffs when the defendants are “absent,” or not residing in Alabama after their respective accidents. For example, say a driver runs a red light and hits another driver, causing the second individual to sustain injuries. The first driver leaves the state after the incident. The statute of limitations for this personal injury claim starts when the offending driver returns to Alabama as per Code of Alabama section 6-2-10.

What is the discovery rule?

Sometimes, a person’s injuries are immediately apparent, like a broken leg. In some cases, however, the injury may take time to fully reveal itself. If you were exposed to a toxic substance at work for years but did not know it, and only discovered that this was the root cause of your injury much later. Or perhaps you fell on a slippery floor and hit your head, but thought you were fine; a few days later you wake up with blurry vision and trouble keeping your balance, and you learn that you have a brain injury.

Normally, the clock starts running on the date of the incident which caused your injury. But if you did not discover your injury on the same date of the incident or accident (or exposure), or could not have reasonably been expected to discover an injury until later, then the statute of limitations may be extended based on the date you discovered you were, indeed, injured. However, it is not recommended that you rely on a discovery rule exception. Instead, it is always recommended to file suit prior to the expiration of two years.

Statute of limitations vs. a statute of repose

A statute of limitations, as we explained, is the timeline of when you can file a lawsuit. A statute of repose, on the other hand, is the hard stop for a lawsuit to move forward, regardless of any exceptions that may be allowed under law. In Alabama, courts generally throw out cases where 20 or more years have passed since the incident, but there are some exceptions. The statute of repose for claims involving construction defects, for example, is usually seven years from the date of completion of the project. In a product liability claim against an original seller, the statute of repose is 10 years.

Types of injuries from negligence or intentional tort

Unfortunately, it is possible for plaintiffs in these civil claims to sustain a wide variety of injuries, depending on the nature of their accidents. Among the most common injuries listed in such claims are:

  • Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
  • Head trauma, such as skull fractures
  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions and contusions
  • Internal bleeding
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Organ damage
  • Burn injuries
  • Loss of limbs
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Leg injuries
  • Facial injuries

Damages in personal injury cases are typically labeled as “economic”’ and “non-economic.” Economic damages provide compensation for the monetary losses the plaintiff has experienced because of the accident, and can include emergency medical care, physical therapy, lost wages, occupational therapy, and disability. Non-economic damages refer to the psychological component of the accident, and can include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of life enjoyment, and mental anguish. If the plaintiff undergoes trauma counseling due to the mental anguish they have experienced, it will likely be listed as an economic damage.

If the injured party perishes because of the accident, their surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim. In Alabama, only punitive damages are recoverable for wrongful death.

Punitive damages, or damages meant to punish the defendant for gross wrongdoing, are typically reserved for intentional tort cases, since the defendant intentionally tried to harm the plaintiff. However, only punitive damages apply to wrongful death cases. Therefore, the legal focus must be placed upon the defendant’s conduct in causing the wrongful death.

If you were recently injured because of someone else’s negligence, speak with a Huntsville injury attorney from Martin & Helms as soon as possible. We can review your case in exhaustive detail to determine what your best options are. We have locations in Huntsville and Decatur, AL, providing clients throughout North Alabama with dedicated counsel and representation. Call our office or submit our contact form to schedule a consultation.

Statute of Limitations in Alabama Injury Claims - Discovery Rule (2)

Choosing the right personal injury attorney is an important step in building a better future. You deserve a lawyer who works one-on-one with you, and who can develop a plan for you to move forward. When you choose Martin & Helms, you get Clay Martin and Tara Helms: experienced, compassionate counselors who put your best interests first. We invite you to read more about us.

Statute of Limitations in Alabama Injury Claims - Discovery Rule (2024)


What is the statute of limitations for the discovery rule in Alabama? ›

The discovery rule suspends the statute of limitations until an injury is or should have been discovered. In the state of Alabama, the discovery rule is 1 year.

What is the statute of limitations for personal injury discovery in Alabama? ›

In Alabama, the standard statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. The “clock” typically starts on the statute from the date of the incident, such as the day of the car accident. The two-year deadline also applies to wrongful death cases.

What is the discovery rule in Alabama product liability? ›

If your case involves exposure to a harmful substance and you weren't immediately aware of the injury, Alabama's limited discovery rule gives you one year from when you discovered (or should have discovered) the harm.

What is the limitation for injury claims? ›

The limitation period for personal injury claims is generally three years. This means claims must be commenced in the courts within three years from the date on which the accident or incident occurred in which the injuries were caused; or three years from the date of 'knowledge'.

How long do you have to answer discovery in Alabama? ›

Generally, responses or objections are due in 30 days. It has frequently been held that both good faith and the spirit of the rule require the party answering interrogatories to see to it that his answers are truthful as of the time of the trial as well as of the time when the interrogatories are answered.

Does Alabama recognize discovery rule? ›

The Alabama discovery rule suspends the running of the statute of limitations if the circ*mstances 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.

What is rule 26 discovery in Alabama? ›

Rule 26 applies in the district courts except that the reference to physical and mental examinations is deleted and all other discovery methods referred to in Rule 26(a) shall be available only in the discretion of the court on motion of the party seeking such discovery or by agreement of the parties.

What is the statute of limitations in Alabama? ›

Alabama imposes a 12-month limit for all misdemeanors and a three-year time limit for most felonies, although the most serious crimes have no statutory time limits whatsoever, including murder, counterfeiting, arson, or sex offenses with minors under 16.

What is discovery an injury case? ›

Discovery is one of the essential steps when building a personal injury case. Discovery is the process of gathering evidence to support the claim of a party in a personal injury case. This evidence is gathered from the plaintiff, defendant, and relevant witnesses.

What is the reasonable discovery rule? ›

What is the discovery rule? The discovery rule prevents the statute of limitations from running until the plaintiff discovers, or has reason to discover, the cause of action. The discovery rule applies when the plaintiff did not discover – and a reasonable person would not have discovered – that they had suffered harm.

What are the four 4 elements required to be proven in a products liability action based on negligence? ›

A negligence claim requires that the person bringing the claim (the plaintiff) establish four distinct elements: duty of care, breach, causation, and damages. This article will describe these elements in more detail.

What are the three most common claims made by plaintiffs in a product liability case? ›

Common elements of PL claims. There are three common elements to all product liability lawsuits, regardless of the legal theory that the lawsuit is brought under. The lawsuit must involve a product, the product must be found to be defective, and the product defect must be found to be the proximate cause of the injury.

What is an exception to the statute of limitations? ›

The “discovery rule” is an exception to the statute of limitations that extends the deadline for filing a case based on the time it took to discover your injury, condition, or damages, or the time it took to reveal the misconduct or bad acts that give rise to your suit.

Is there a time limit on claiming compensation? ›

The simple answer is, yes, as with most personal injury claims, strict time limitations apply. The law provides a timeframe of 6 months in which to file a claim. However, in some circ*mstances, this can be extended to 3 years. Read on for the specifics of workers compensation time limits.

What is a limitation of liability clause personal injury? ›

A limitation of liability clause is a contractual provision that restricts the type and amount of liability that one party (the offending party) assumes when it directly or indirectly causes another party (the injured party) to experience losses in connection with their contractual relationship.

What is the rule 37 in Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure? ›

Alabama Rules of Appellate Procedure Rule 37. Interest on judgments. Unless otherwise provided by law, if a judgment for money in a civil case is affirmed or the appeal is dismissed, whatever interest is provided by law shall be payable from the date the judgment was rendered in the trial court.

What is the rule 34 in Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure? ›

A person not a party to the action may be compelled to produce documents, electronically stored information, and things or to submit to an inspection as provided in Rule 45. (dc) District court rule. Rule 34 applies in the district courts in those instances where production and inspections are permitted by Rule 26(dc).

How long is a discovery period? ›

Once a personal injury lawsuit gets underway, the discovery process will last at least a few months and usually several months longer. In a large, complex case, it can go on for a year or more.

What is rule 403 in Alabama Rules of evidence? ›

Exclusion of relevant evidence on grounds of prejudice, confusion, or waste of time.

What is rule 16 discovery in Alabama? ›

Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 16. Discovery.

(2) Disclose the substance of any oral statements made by the defendant, before or after arrest, to any law enforcement officer, official, or employee which the state/municipality intends to offer in evidence at the trial.

What is rule 7 of Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure? ›

(1) An application to the court for an order shall be by motion which, unless made during a hearing or trial, shall be made in writing, shall state with particularity the grounds therefor, and shall set forth the relief or order sought.

What is rule 69 in Alabama? ›

PROVISIONAL AND FINAL REMEDIES AND SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS Rule 69. Execution. (a) Procedure. The clerk shall issue a writ of execution to enforce a money judgment upon application of the judgment creditor.

What is rule 55 in Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure? ›

Rule 55(a) authorizes the clerk to enter defaults upon the civil docket when the party fails “to plead or otherwise defend”. Consequently, a party who has appeared can be in default for failing to file subsequent pleadings or otherwise defend.

What is rule 702 in Alabama? ›

Under this rule it is possible that an expert opinion or testimony on a question of common knowledge would be admitted by the trial judge as helpful to the trier of fact. The phrase “assist the trier of fact,” used by Rule 702 as the threshold test for expert testimony, is not new to Alabama.

What is the longest statute of limitations? ›

For federal offenses, most crimes carry a five-year statute of limitations on criminal legal proceedings, with a few exceptions:
  • No time limit: Capital offenses, terrorism-related offenses that result in death or serious injury, and designated federal child abduction and sex offenses.
  • 20 years: Art theft.
Jan 3, 2023

How long are most statute of limitations? ›

How Long Is the U.S. Statute of Limitations? In general, U.S. federal law has a statute of limitations of five years, unless there is a specific legal language for offenses that stretches beyond that time. For example, for capital murder, there is no statute of limitations.

What is the statute of limitations on intentional tort in Alabama? ›

In other words, in the state of Alabama, you have two years from your injury date to file a personal injury lawsuit founded on the liability principle of negligence (car accidents, slips and falls, etc.) and intentional tort (for example, a civil case over an assault).

What are the four types of discovery? ›

Explore different types of discovery
  • Discovery from a party to your case. Request information and evidence from the other side.
  • Discovery from a non-party to your case. Request information from individuals who are not involved with your lawsuit.
  • Respond to discovery requests.

What are the 4 aspects of discovery? ›

There are four key actions in the discovery process which include interrogatories, request for documents, request for admissions, and depositions.

How important is discovery in a lawsuit? ›

Discovery enables the parties to know before the trial begins what evidence may be presented. It s designed to prevent "trial by ambush," where one side doesn t learn of the other side s evidence or witnesses until the trial, when there s no time to obtain answering evidence.

What is protected from discovery? ›

Discovery does not extend to accessing information that is privileged. Privileged information is information that is protected by a confidential relationship recognized by law, such as attorney-client, doctor-patient, etc.

What is rule 26 discovery? ›

This rule freely authorizes the taking of depositions under the same circ*mstances and by the same methods whether for the purpose of discovery or for the purpose of obtaining evidence.

What is rule 37 failure to make disclosures or to cooperate in discovery? ›

(1) A party that without substantial justification fails to disclose information required by Rule 26(a) or 26(e)(1) shall not, unless such failure is harmless, be permitted to use as evidence at a trial, at a hearing, or on a motion any witness or information not so disclosed.

What is the most difficult element of negligence to prove? ›

In medical malpractice cases, causation is usually the most difficult element to prove. To prove causation in any type of negligence action, you must prove two things: 1)The negligent action was the actual cause of harm, and 2)The negligent action was the proximate cause of harm.

What must the plaintiff prove in order to establish a claim for negligence? ›

Under the traditional rules of legal duty in negligence cases, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant's actions were the actual cause of the plaintiff's injury. This is often referred to as "but-for" causation, meaning that, but for the defendant's actions, the plaintiff's injury would not have occurred.

What are the 3 defenses to negligence? ›

The most common negligence defenses are contributory negligence, comparative negligence, and assumption of risk. This article will discuss all three defenses, when they're used, and how they're established.

What three damage awards are plaintiffs who win their tort case? ›

There are three types of damage that form the foundation of most civil lawsuits: compensatory, nominal, and punitive.

What are the three types of damages awarded in a lawsuit? ›

One of easiest ways to do this is to break them down into three main types of damages: Economic damages. Non-economic damages. Punitive damages.

What are three types of damages recoverable in a lawsuit? ›

There are 3 types of damages in personal injury claims: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Economic and non-economic damages may also be referred to as special and general damages.

What is the delayed discovery rule? ›

The delayed discovery rule in California says is the legal maxim that the statute of limitations on bringing a claim does not start running until a claimant discovers the injury or loss that forms the basis of the claim or lawsuit.

What is a sample statute of limitations clause? ›

You agree that any action in relation to an alleged breach of this XXXX shall be commenced within one year of the date of the breach, without regard to the date the breach is discovered.

What is repose in law? ›

A law that extinguishes a right of action after a specified period of time has elapsed, regardless of whether the cause of action has accrued. Courts generally find that statutes of repose begin to run without interruption once the triggering event occurs.

What is an impairment claim? ›

Impairment benefits are compensation for non-economic loss that is the result of permanent impairment. The Worker's Claim for Impairment Benefits form is the only form approved by WorkSafe for IB claims. An IB Specialist manages IB claims lodged with the Agent.

What is the time limit for personal injury claims in Qld? ›

All personal injuries claims in Queensland must be commenced in a court by filing a Claim and Statement of Claim within a three (3) year period beginning on the date the action arises. This is usually the date the injury is received, but the time limit can run from a later date in some circ*mstances.

What is the time limit for personal injury claims in NSW? ›

Usually, a 3 year time limit applies for making and settling a claim with the Motor Accidents Authority. However, in most cases, motor vehicle accident personal injury claims are submitted within 6 months from the date of the accident.

What is the limitation in personal injury claims? ›

The limitation period for personal injury claims is generally three years. This means claims must be commenced in the courts within three years from the date on which the accident or incident occurred in which the injuries were caused; or three years from the date of 'knowledge'.

What are common exceptions to limitation of liability? ›

Examples of exclusions from limitations of liability include losses resulting from a breach of confidentiality, refusal to provide services, death, bodily injury, damage to tangible property, violation of applicable law, gross negligence or willful misconduct.

What is limitation of liability rule? ›

A limitation of liability clause is a clause in a contract that restricts a company's financial exposure in the event of a lawsuit or another claim. A limitation of liability clause, if found to be enforceable, can “cap” the number of potential damages incurred.

What is rule 403 in Alabama Rules of Evidence? ›

Exclusion of relevant evidence on grounds of prejudice, confusion, or waste of time.

What is rule 54 Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure? ›

Judgments; costs. (a) Definition; form. ”Judgment” as used in these rules includes a decree and any order from which an appeal lies. A judgment shall not contain a recital of pleadings, the report of a master, or the record of prior proceedings.

What is rule 405 Alabama Rules of Evidence? ›

Methods of proving character. (a) Reputation or opinion. In all cases in which evidence of character or a trait of character of a person is admissible, proof may be made by testimony as to reputation or by testimony in the form of an opinion.

What is rule 402 in Alabama? ›

Rule 402 expressly recognizes that material and relevant evidence may be excluded if its admission would violate some other provision of the Alabama Rules of Evidence.

What is rule 56 D discovery? ›

56(d), the nonmoving party can submit an affidavit that asks for additional time for discovery, which will permit the court to either (1) defer considering the motion for summary judgment (or deny it all together); (2) allow more time for the nonmoving party to obtain additional discovery; or (3) issue any other order ...

What is the delay discovery rule? ›

The delayed discovery rule applies when the victim didn't know they had a legal claim and when a reasonable person wouldn't have known that they had a legal claim. For example, a victim may have serious internal injuries that do not manifest themselves for a period of time after an accident.

What is the cut off for discovery? ›

You must finish discovery 30 days before trial

Discovery ends 30 days before trial (the cutoff date). That means, at the very latest anything you ask for must be due 30 days before your trial. At the latest, you need to serve your requests 60 days before your trial date (65 if you serve by mail).

What stage is after discovery? ›

You can plan the required resources, estimated timeline, and costs by having the requirements. Never proceed with the project without comprehensively gathering requirements from your clients. Once that's done, you are set to move into the next stage, “Research.”

What is rule 22 Alabama Rules of civil Procedure? ›

Interpleader. (a) Plaintiff or defendant. Persons having claims against the plaintiff may be joined as defendants and required to interplead when their claims are such that the plaintiff is or may be exposed to double or multiple liability.

What is rule 52 in Alabama Rules of civil Procedure? ›

Rule 52 attaches a presumption to the findings of a master to the extent that the trial court has adopted them. Under present Alabama practice, de novo appellate review is available when evidence has been taken before a commissioner.

What is rule 53 Alabama Rules of civil Procedure? ›

Masters. (a) Appointment and compensation. Each court to which these rules are applicable or the presiding judge in those courts having more than one judge, may appoint one or more standing masters for the court, and the court in which any action is pending may appoint a special master therein.


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