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Deadlines To File A Lawsuit

In general there are deadlines to file a lawsuit after suffering an injury (physical or financial). We often refer to these deadlines as the “Statute of Limitations.” In Alabama for most personal injuries like car wrecks, slip and fall, and medical malpractice, the deadline is two (2) years from the date of the injury. Written contracts generally have a longer statue of limitations (6 years). If a lawsuit is not filed before the deadline, the injured party cannot pursue the responsible party. In Alabama, there are some things not covered by the Statute of Limitations (family law issues being chief among those). Cases involving fraud are sometimes very difficult because often the date of the injury was not realized until much later (because of the fraud). For cases such as these, often the statute begins to run from the point that a reasonable person should have discovered the injury/fraud (usually 2 years). Determining when the fraud should have become apparent is a question the courts decide when a defendant challenges a plaintiff’s lawsuit as being barred by the Statute of Limitations. There are many different deadlines and each state has its own Statute of Limitations. It is important that you contact an attorney to learn what deadlines may apply in a specific situation. We have offices in Birmingham and Blount County and represent individuals and businesses in all matter of civil lawsuits including auto accidents and other personal injuries. We also handle a wide variety of cases involving contracts, real estate, and probate law. Please call our Birmingham office at (205) 937-3687 or our Blount County office at (205) 683-0660.

Why Does The Court System Move So Slow?

This is perhaps the most frequent question that we get from clients. The short answer is that there are so many cases filed, and too few judges/clerks to handle the volume. This is not the only reason. Some cases do not need to be decided quickly, as parties need time to investigate and prepare for a trial or to negotiate a settlement. If a case does not settle and has to be tried, it can easily take more than a year. Certainly, there are exceptions such as small claims court, where a case may be tried within six months. Since 2003, the Alabama Legislature has cut funding for the Court to such a level that most counties’ clerk’s offices are staffed at or below 50% of what is needed. No new funding for judgeships in growing counties has been approved in quite some time, and places like Shelby, Madison, and Mobile County are struggling to keep their huge dockets moving. The delay and cost of lengthy litigation causes many parties to either settle on their own or seek mediation of their disputes. For some cases like divorces and contract disputes (where there is no jury), both parties can agree to hire a retired judge to hear their case and issue a final decision. This new law is commonly known as the “private judge bill” can help parties schedule their own trial and get it resolved quicker than if had gone through the regular path. With a private judge, the parties pay the cost of hiring the judge, so that keeps many people from making use of that law.

Keeping your case moving and making the best use of the time is key to obtaining a successful result. If you have questions about a legal issue and need an attorney please give King & Green a call at (205) 775-7531.

 

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