How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident in Alabama?

by Aaron Gartlan

November 18, 2019 | Auto Accidents

If you have been hurt in a car accident and need to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney right away. In Alabama, you have only two years to file your claim. This is called the “statute of limitations.” If you file your claim after this time period passes, you will likely be barred from recovering any compensation for your medical expenses, lost income and other damages.

Like many people, you may think that two years is a lot of time to file a lawsuit. However, in reality, it really is not such a long period of time at all. Prior to filing your claim, your lawyer will need to do a lot of work, including gathering evidence from the crash, interviewing witnesses, collecting medical records and handling all related paperwork. All of this takes time.

To learn more about how long you have to file a lawsuit after a car accident in Alabama, get in touch with attorney Aaron Gartlan and our team at Gartlan Injury Law today. Aaron is a member of the National Trial Lawyers Association’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and he serves clients in Dothan and throughout Alabama. He can review your case in a free consultation.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims in Alabama?

auto crashIn Alabama, you can find the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including those arising from car accidents, at Ala. Code § 6-2-38. The two-year period for filing a car accident lawsuit typically starts to run on the date when the injury occurs, or the date of the accident. However, it can also start to run on a different date.

Sometimes, auto accident victims are not immediately aware of their injuries. For example, you may sustain traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a car crash. However, you may not realize that you have suffered the injury until weeks or maybe even months after the accident occurred. Even if you sought treatment right away, doctors may not have immediately recognized the damage to your brain. When this occurs, you have two years from the date you discovered the injury, or from the date you should have reasonably discovered the injury, in which to file your claim. This is called the “discovery rule.”

Are There Any Exceptions to the Car Accident Statute of Limitations?

In addition to the discovery rule, several other exceptions exist which can allow a person to file a car accident lawsuit more than two years after the date of the crash. Those exceptions include:

  • Wrongful death – As the “personal representative” of the estate of a loved one who died in a car accident, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim against the negligent driver who caused the crash. You will need to file this lawsuit within two years from the date of your loved one’s death – not the date of the accident.
  • Child victim – In some crashes, the victim is a minor, or a child under age 18. Under Alabama law, a minor lacks the capacity to file a lawsuit. So, the two-year statute of limitations on the child’s claim will not start to run until he or she turns age 18. Keep in mind: If you are a parent who is filing a claim for your own damages – for instance, you have suffered significant financial losses from paying your child’s hospital bills – the statute of limitations for your claim will start to run from the date of the accident.
  • Mental incapacity – If you are deemed to be mentally unfit to file a car accident lawsuit, the two-year statute of limitations will not start to run until you are declared to have the capacity to proceed.
  • Automotive defect – If a defective automobile or auto part caused your accident – for example, your brakes failed, or your car suddenly accelerated – then the statute of limitations for product liability claims will apply. In most cases, you will need to file your lawsuit within one year from the date of the injury or death caused by the defect.

If you recently were hurt in a crash in Alabama, or if your loved one died in an accident, you should make sure to contact Gartlan Injury Law right away. We will determine the statute of limitations that applies to your case.

How Long Do You Have to Sue for Negligent Treatment of Car Accident Injuries?

After a car accident, you should immediately get medical treatment. Seeing a doctor will protect your health and your ability to file a car accident claim as well. Unfortunately, the treatment that you receive may only make your condition worse. When a medical professional makes a mistake and does not provide care and treatment that meets a reasonable standard of care, it is called “medical malpractice.”

Doctors and other healthcare workers can be held liable for any injuries that result from their negligence. If this happens to you, then you will need to file a claim within two years from the date of the negligent medical act or omission. However, the same exceptions which we discussed above would still apply, including the discovery rule and the special rules for minors and incapacitated individuals.

When Should You Contact a Lawyer About Your Car Accident Case?

Even though you typically have two years from the date of your accident to file a car accident claim, you should contact attorney Aaron Gartlan as soon as possible – preferably the same day or within a few days after your crash. As your attorney, Aaron will need to get to work right away on your claim and perform a number of tasks. Those tasks include:

  • Conducting an investigation, including interviewing witnesses
  • Consulting with experts, if necessary
  • Gathering medical records and other evidence to calculate your damages
  • Dealing with the insurance company
  • Drafting and preparing the complaint.

You can also take some steps that will help your claim and move it along more quickly. These steps include:

  • Seeking immediate medical treatment
  • Getting the names and contact information of all potential witnesses
  • Obtaining a copy of the police accident report
  • Gathering insurance policies and e-mails or letters from insurers.

Don’t Wait! Get Help from a Dothan Car Accident Attorney Today

If you have been hurt in a car accident, protect your claim by contacting a car accident attorney in Dothan as soon as possible. At Gartlan Injury Law, we will meet all deadlines in your case and aggressively pursue all compensation that you deserve. To discuss your case and learn more about how we can help you, contact us and schedule your free consultation today.


Aaron Gartlan is a graduate of Troy University and the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law who focuses his practice exclusively on representing those injured by the wrongdoing of others. He is member of the National Trial Lawyers Association’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. In addition to his legal practice, Aaron teaches Business Law as an adjunct instructor at Troy University’s Sorrell College of Business and serves as a field artillery sergeant in the Alabama National Guard.

  • BBB New
  • TTLA
  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Avvo Rating
  • Avvo Client’s Choice 2018
  • Avvo Top Contributor 2017
  • The National Trial Lawyers
  • American Association for Justice