Birmingham Personal Injury Attorneys
Fighting for the Injured Since 2002
Accidents can cause life-altering injuries and sometimes death. Knowing your rights and responsibilities as a plaintiff is important, but hiring a knowledgeable Birmingham personal injury attorney can assist you through an often complex legal system.
Guster Law Firm, LLC has been representing the injured in Alabama since 2002. We fight for our clients’ rights, standing up against even the most formidable opponents to pursue fair compensation for their medical bills, lost earnings, pain, suffering, and emotional trauma.
To find out how we can help you, call (205) 386-6844 for a free consultation.
Personal Injury Types
There are several ways accidents and resulting personal injuries can occur as a result of medical errors, drunk drivers, defective products, and unsafe premises.
Common causes of personal injuries include:
- Medical malpractice, such as medication errors, wrong diagnosis, or unnecessary surgeries can cause serious injuries or even death. Medical errors are usually the result of doctor or other health care provider’s failure to provide standard treatment or care.
- Motor vehicle accidents can occur for many reasons, including drunk driving or intoxicated driving, distracted driving, poorly maintained roads, and defective auto parts.
- Defective products such as medical devices, toys, and car parts, among other products, can cause serious injury and even death if they are not manufactured properly. Children are often the most vulnerable to dangerous products, such as those containing small parts that present choking hazards or products that contain paint with toxic chemicals.
- Unsafe property grounds are another potential cause of personal injuries. When a property owner or manager fails to keep the premises safe for visitors, guests, or tenants, dangerous accidents such as slip and fall injuries can occur. These cases fall under the category of premises liability.
What Kind of Recovery Should I Expect in Alabama?
Each legal proceeding, whether civil or criminal, is unique and what may apply for one case could be irrelevant in the next. As such, it's difficult to say with what your case may be worth without a thorough investigation and review. There are basic guidelines, however, for understanding what compensation is available such as damage types, liabilities, and caps on personal injuries.
Categories of Personal Injury Damages
There are two common categories that personal injury claims cover:
- Economic damages are the concrete costs associated with an accident. Property damage, hospital bills, medical expenses, and any future rehabilitation such as physical therapy fall into this category. Loss of wages or employment or, with death, loss of future earnings for the survivors are considered economic damages.
- Non-economic damages are considered the "soft" damages resulting from accidents. Non-economic damages may include emotional trauma, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life. Generally, the more severe the accident or negligence, the larger these awards can be.
Liabilities in an Accident in Birmingham, AL
While some personal injury cases involve the relatively plain and straightforward liability of a defendant who was fully to blame for the accident or injuries, there are other cases where the principle of contributory negligence will apply. This refers to situations where the plaintiff bears some of the responsibility for his or her injuries.
An example may be a pedestrian who did not heed lights at a street crossing and was struck by a vehicle. In court, the pedestrian would be subject to pure comparative negligence, where his or her contribution to the injury would be decided. The jury or judge might decide that the plaintiff (the pedestrian) was 25% to blame for the accident, thus lowering the plaintiff’s settlement or award by 25%. If the plaintiff is found to be equally responsible or more than 50% responsible, he or she would not be eligible to recover compensation from the other party.
It will be important to work with your Birmingham personal injury lawyer to determine the cause of your accident and to prove that you were not to blame, as this could reduce your recovery or even altogether eliminate your ability to recover compensation from the other party.
Caps on Alabama Personal Injury Cases
Alabama law does not impose limits on personal injury compensation that can be awarded in cases against private individuals, except pertaining to punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for their conduct and deter similar conduct of the defendant or others in the future. These damages can be subjective and therefore imprecise, because the nature of the wrongdoing is variable. The terms characterizing punitive damages include fraud, malice, bad faith, oppression, wickedness, and reckless situations where the defendant acted without regard for the rights of the plaintiff.
Alabama law states there should be "clear and convincing evidence" that the defendant acted with "deliberate or conscious malice." This can be difficult to establish, but if you are eligible for punitive damages, recovery is limited to three times the compensation awarded or $1.5 million, whichever is greater.
Other limits to personal injury cases in Alabama apply to municipal (city, town, or county) liability. The limitation in these situations is $100,000. In general, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years to file a lawsuit. Hiring a Birmingham personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in this area of law can be helpful to you in navigating the court system.
To learn more, call our Birmingham personal injury firm at (205) 386-6844.