Cases We Handle
If you are seriously injured in an accident, you may be facing enormous medical bills and pressure to go back to work so that you can pay for your care. Many accident victims do not have the savings necessary to deal with unexpected, catastrophic injuries. For many people, the only way that they can afford the care, treatment, and time off that they need for brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or other serious harm is by bringing a personal injury lawsuit. Decatur personal injury lawyer Greg Reeves is here to advocate for the rights of accident victims. He understands the stress that they are facing and is dedicated to pursuing maximum compensation in each and every case, using 30 years of legal experience to guide him.Understanding the Process of Bringing a Personal Injury Claim
You usually have just two years after an accident to file suit against a defendant. For example, if you are riding a motorcycle when a truck hits you because the driver ran a red light, you would have two years from the date that this happened to bring a lawsuit for damages. Under Alabama law, fatal accidents are treated similarly for statute of limitations purposes, although wrongful death claims are considered to be different from personal injury lawsuits.
Usually, to recover damages, you need to prove a defendant's negligence or wantonness. Negligence requires proof of the following elements:
- The defendant owed you a duty;
- The defendant breached this duty;
- The breach caused your injuries; and
- You suffered actual damages.
These elements are said to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence if what you have shown is more likely true than not true. Generally, causation is made up of two parts: actual and proximate causation. Proximate causation is legal causation. Events must be closely and causally connected for one event to be considered the proximate cause of the other.
In some cases, an employee drives negligently while on the job, such as in cases involving truck accidents and other commercial vehicle accidents. A personal injury attorney in the Decatur area can advise you on whether you can establish the liability of the employer as well. Sometimes being able to sue both the employer and the employee can make it easier to secure full compensation for your damages. Since there may be multiple victims with catastrophic injuries arising from a truck accident, it is important to hold anybody who may be responsible accountable in the lawsuit. In some cases, a truck driver's insurance coverage is insufficient to fully address the harm experienced by all of the accident victims. An employer may be vicariously liable for the driver's negligence, even if the company did not act negligently.
Moreover, an employer can also be held directly liable if it owes a duty of care that it breaches. For example, you may be able to hold a trucking company directly liable for its negligent hiring, negligent supervising, or negligent training of a truck driver. Generally, when a trucking company hires a driver, it is supposed to conduct a background check and make sure that it is safe to provide a large commercial vehicle to the driver. A record of drunk driving or other violations should raise a red flag. Even after an interstate truck driver is hired, the employer is supposed to supervise the driver to make sure that they do not violate the hours of service rules or falsify their logbook.
Most states follow the rule of comparative fault, whereby damages are reduced by the plaintiff's percentage of fault. However, Alabama is a contributory negligence state. This rule means that if the jury finds you to be negligent and, further, that your negligence contributed to the accident, then you cannot recover damages. Insurers realize that they can avoid exposure to their insured by finding ways in which an accident victim was ostensibly at fault. They may call you to try to get you to admit fault in some way, or to obtain more information about what happened, so that they can later use what they learn to avoid paying your damages.
In some situations, the manufacturer of a dangerous product is partially or fully blame for injuries. For example, there may be a defective component in a car or truck, such that a driver's negligence combined with the defective product to cause an accident. The Alabama Extended Manufacturers' Liability Doctrine (AEMLD) permits you to sue a manufacturer and hold it liable for a defective product that injures you. Under the AEMLD, you will need to show only that you suffered an injury and that the injury was caused by a product that was in a defective condition and was unreasonably dangerous. A victim can be a consumer or a product user. Products can be defective in terms of their design, manufacturing, or marketing.
An Alabama personal injury attorney can help you sue a distributor, retailer, or seller for a defective product in Alabama if it also manufactured or assembled the final defective product, caused the defect, had substantial control over how the product was manufactured, packaged, designed, or tested, or altered the product such that it caused injuries.
Sometimes serious injuries are caused by assault, battery, sexual abuse, or another intentional crime. You can bring a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages in these cases, and the lawsuit will be separate from any criminal proceeding that is instituted. In a criminal prosecution, the prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a tough standard, and even if the prosecution does not prevail in its action, you may be able to recover damages through your personal injury lawsuit.
If you establish liability in a personal injury lawsuit, you can recover compensatory damages. These damages will vary based on the types of injuries that you sustained. Often, they include emergency treatment, medical treatment, lost wages, vocational rehabilitation, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. Also, if you sustain significant scars or disfigurement, you may be able to recover damages for them. If you will need assistive devices or prosthetics as a result of your injuries, you may be able to recover reimbursement for those devices.
It is rare to obtain a punitive damages award in a personal injury case. You will need to show that the defendant acted egregiously, with deliberate or conscious malice. This is harder to show than proving negligence, and you will need to show it by a clear and convincing evidence standard, which is a higher standard to meet.
Certain contexts can reduce or limit your ability to recover damages. For example, a city's failure to fix certain road conditions could result in a car veering off the road and the passengers being seriously injured. However, in Alabama, the absolute limit for municipal liability in personal injury cases is $100,000. Similarly, certain limitations may apply to a workplace injury, depending on the context and whether workers' compensation benefits can be obtained.
Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Decatur or Surrounding Areas
If you are injured due to somebody else's negligence, you may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit for damages. Often, insurers and corporate defendants will seek out ways in which you may be to blame for the accident in order to avoid paying any damages, even when liability is clear and your injuries are catastrophic. It is crucial to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your rights and advocate for you. Greg has handled cases in Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Texas, and California. The Reeves Law Firm represents injured people in Huntsville, Athens, Hartselle, Madison, and Birmingham, as well as other communities in Madison, Morgan, Limestone, Lawrence, Jackson, Lauderdale, and Cullman Counties. Call us at 256.355.3311 or use our online form to set up a free appointment with Attorney Reeves.