Alabama Car Accident Lawsuits: Available Damages

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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The damages that are available in car accident lawsuits vary from state to state. Some states place limitations on damages; and others, such as Alabama, view specific actions very differently than other states.

Available damages

We interviewed Dana Taunton, an Alabama attorney whose practice focuses on product liability and personal injury matters, about what damages are available to those injured in a car accident in Alabama. Here’s what she told us:

In personal injury cases, you’re entitled to your medical expenses, pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost wages, property damage, diminished property value and things of that nature. You can even get future pain and suffering and future lost wages, as long as it’s not speculative. You’ll have to get an accountant or some type of expert to show the projected lost wages. You are also entitled to punitive damages if you can prove wantonness, willfulness or reckless disregard for your safety.

With a twist…

Alabama law treats death cases very differently. Taunton explained, “In Alabama, death cases are different than almost every other state in the Union. Alabama has a death statute that says you are entitled to punitive damages. Other states put different values on someone’s life. Alabama does not. It is strictly a punitive damages state and you can recover for negligence and punitive damages.”

“There’s a public policy reason for that. Alabama takes the view that one life is not more valuable than another. An unemployed person’s life is just as valuable and just as important as the life of a CEO in a large corporation.”

Caps on damages

There aren’t any caps on compensatory damages in Alabama. However, there are caps on punitive damages – except in death cases. According to Taunton, “The cap on punitive damages is three times the amount of compensatory damages and there is a formula used for certain large companies that looks at a percentage of the company’s gross profit. That varies, but the general rule is three times the amount of compensatory damages.”

Alabama’s statute of limitations for bringing a personal injury or wrongful death claim is two years from the date of the accident. So, if you’ve been injured in an auto accident, consult with an attorney whose practice focuses in this area of the law to discuss your situation – and do so well before that deadline. As always, consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential. To contact a qualified attorney, please click here. We may be able to help.

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