If you might have to file a lawsuit on any type of claim, whether it involves an injury from an accident, or a debt that someone owes you, it is very important to be mindful that there are deadlines for filing of a lawsuit.
Each state has a different set of rules, and there are many different deadlines, depending on the type of case. For example, in Alabama, the deadline for filing a negligence claim is generally two years from the date of the accident on which the negligence claim is based. A claim for breach of contract, however, is generally longer. There are rare exceptions that can sometimes apply to change the deadlines imposed by statutes of limitations. For example, sometimes a minor child will have a longer period of time in which to file a suit than an adult.
When a governmental entity, such as a city or county is involved, there can be deadlines which are even shorter than the statute of limitations. For example, in Alabama, a verified claim must be filed with the city clerk within six months from the date the claim arises (which generally would be the time of the accident, if it is an accident case), and a claim against a county must be filed with the county commission within one year.
In Alabama, a suit for worker’s compensation benefits must be filed within two years from the date of the accident, although there can be an extension if the employer or the worker’s compensation insurance company makes payment of compensation benefits after the accident.
There are also certain situations where there are statutes of “repose” or rules of “repose” which can create other, and different deadlines, some of which operate very harshly upon the rights of someone who is injured because of a condition created a long time earlier.
Because of the complexity of the rules and exceptions dealing with statutes of limitations, claims requirements, and other laws, anyone who may have to file a lawsuit should obtain legal advice as early as possible. For further discussion of Alabama’s statutes of limitations, see Alabama Tort Law, 4th Edition, Chapter 46.