Can you sue Mobile and Baldwin Counties?

Can you sue Mobile and Baldwin Counties?

Question:  I fell on an uneven sidewalk and was badly injured. Shouldn’t the city pay me?

BILL:  Dealing with the government can be a complex and challenging process, whether it’s for obtaining a license or handling an injury case. The reason for this is that the government operates under a different set of rules, which they themselves create. This can be overwhelming for those seeking justice.

First, and this is true whether you are going after a city, county, or state, there is a cap on what you can collect. That means there is a maximum amount of money you can receive. For example, you can have a million dollars in medical bills but still only collect the cap, which could be ten cents on the dollar. In going after the government, I tell clients it is best to consider them 10 feet tall and bulletproof.

I just settled a case not too long ago where a lady was horribly injured.  The case settled for $100,000 because we could not get outside that cap. Now, had she been hit by, say, an 18-wheeler, then the case would have been worth a lot more. But she was not; she was hit by a police officer, so the cap was in place.

Now, there are exceptions, such as when an employee acts outside their employment (for example, a car wreck when the employee is off duty) or when a government worker does something they shouldn’t be doing in the first place.

You can say this exception for the government is wrong, but this is the way it is.

Here is one important thing to remember. The statute of limitations is different from that of a typical accident case. Do not sit around and wait. You may have as little as six months, or your case is lost forever.

This “time” thing is serious. I’ve seen it, more often than not, where a person says, “Oh, I’ve got another year.” No, you don’t. Wait too long, and you will have failed to meet the requirements under the statute. Now, don’t feel stupid. I didn’t know this quirk in the law until I started practicing law.

Let me emphasize the importance of consulting with an attorney who has a proven track record in dealing with this specific area of law. Just as you wouldn’t go to an eye doctor to remove a hernia, it’s crucial not to consult a divorce lawyer for advice on your rights in an injury case involving a government entity. They may or may not be familiar with the intricacies of such cases. Instead, seek the guidance of a well-known, AAA-qualified personal injury attorney.

CALL BILL

Injured? You can call Bill directly at (251) 255-5000. He will talk to you for free. Plus, watch Bill every Sunday night at 10:30 on NBC 15 LawCall, our legal TV show, here in Mobile. Hosted by Andrea Ramey, it is on right after the news.

Do some areas pay more for a car wreck than Mobile and Baldwin Counties?

Do some areas pay more for a car wreck than Mobile and Baldwin Counties?

Question: I was in an accident. My cousin from another state was in a similar wreck and got twice the amount I did. Why?

BILL: Some states do pay more in specific situations. I will tell you that some counties, even in the state of Alabama, have reputations for larger jury awards. Here is the bottom line to the insurance company – if a jury would award more, the insurance company will offer more to settle the case.

Now, some of my lawyer friends say that Huntsville can be the worst. With all its high-tech engineers, Huntsville juries have a reputation for analyzing and flowcharting your case for days. According to attorneys there, the jurors have a reputation for finding that 1% of blame that, by Alabama law, can stop you from collecting anything … ever.

Let me explain that since it can seriously impact what you can collect.

Alabama is one of the few states—North Carolina is also one —that says if you’re the plaintiff (injured person) and are even a little bit at fault, you don’t get anything. Yes, it’s all or nothing.

A couple of years ago, I had a case in Mississippi in which the jury found that my client was 10% at fault, but the other driver was 90% at fault.

Well, what they do there is basically just deduct whatever percentage you’re at fault from the jury awards. So, if the jury awarded you $100,000, they would take away $10,000, and you get $90,000.

To show how different states can be if you’re 10% at fault in the state of Alabama, whether it be a car wreck, slip and fall, you know, whatever — you get zero.

Let me quickly add that I worked with a Mississippi lawyer, and we shared the fee. It did not cost the client one extra penny to have a lawyer here in Mobile that they could come to see and talk to and have a Mississippi lawyer who could help us through the specific laws in that state.

Let me add that workers comp. in Alabama is a little different. If you’re hurt on the job, even if it’s your own fault, then you still get workers compensation. The downside is that on workers comp., you don’t get pain and suffering, mental anguish, or things of that nature, but you do get compensated for whatever injury you had.

CALL BILL

Injured? You can call Bill directly at 251-255-5000. He will talk to you for free. Plus, watch Bill every Sunday night at 10:30 on NBC 15 LawCall, our legal TV show, here in Mobile. Hosted by Andrea Ramey, it is on right after the news.