In this article, we'll look at some important Alabama laws that could impact an insurance claim or lawsuit after a slip and fall accident. We'll begin by looking at the time limits for filing an injury lawsuit in the Alabama court system. Then we'll discuss what happens if you are partly responsible for your slip and fall accident. We'll also touch on slip and fall claims against government employees and agencies, since Alabama has special rules for these.
Alabama law gives you two years from the date of your slip and fall accident to file a case in court against the property owner or any other parties who might be at fault. If you don't file your case in court within two years, you'll lose the right to have the matter resolved in the court system.
It's important to remember that this two-year time limit only applies to lawsuits filed in state court. It does not limit how much time you have to file an insurance claim (with the property owner's insurance carrier, for example). However, it's wise to file any insurance claim as soon as possible after a slip and fall accident (and remember that the insurance company may try to deny your claim if you don't file it within a "reasonable time") .
Getting the claims process started ASAP means you'll have plenty of time to go to court -- or at least threaten to take the case to court -- in order to get stalled settlement negotiations moving again.
Alabama has its own rules for deciding how a case is impacted if an injured person (the one filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit over slip and fall injuries) is also partly at fault for causing the accident. Alabama uses a "contributory negligence" rule in cases like these, and it leads to fairly harsh results. It usually eliminates the chance at compensation -- via a court order of damages or a settlement award -- for injured plaintiffs or claimants who are found to be even slightly responsible for the slip and fall accident.
Here's an illustration of Alabama's contributory negligence rule in action. Suppose that you slip and fall while shopping in a grocery store. You decide to file an insurance claim or take your case to court. After investigating the claim or considering all the evidence in the court case, the insurance adjuster or the jury decides that your total damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and all other losses you suffered from your injury, equal $50,000. However, the insurance adjuster or jury also decides that you were 10 percent at fault for the accident, and the grocery store was 90 percent at fault.
What happens next? Under Alabama's contributory negligence rule, your total settlement amount or court award drops to zero. Because you were found to be partly at fault for the accident, you can receive nothing, even if other parties were more responsible for the accident than you were.
If an Alabama government agency or employee was involved in your slip and fall accident, you'll need to keep a different set of rules in mind as you pursue your claim. The rules for government claims apply if, for example, you tripped on a broken staircase in a government building or slipped on a puddle of oil in a government parking lot.
When a government agency is involved, you'll need to follow a strict claim filing procedure in order to get compensation for your injuries. In Alabama, slip and fall accident claims against the government must be filed with the Alabama Board of Adjustment within one year of the date of the injury. The required forms are available online from the Board of Adjustment. The form must be notarized.
You can learn more about filing a slip and fall injury claim against the Alabama government by reading the Board of Adjustment's Frequently Asked Questions page. If your slip and fall case involves the potential liability of local government (at the city or county level), start by contacting the municipality and asking about the injury claim filing procedure.