Updated: Aug 22
Have you been damaged or suffered an injury due to the negligence of the a City, County, or even the State of Alabama itself? If so, your time to take action on that claim may be running out faster than you think. Most people are aware that the Statute of Limitations, the amount of time you have to bring a lawsuit, in Alabama is two (2) years for negligence or wrongful death claim in Alabama. However, I would wager very few people know that there is another deadline that applies to governmental entities in the State of Alabama.
Ante Litem Motam in Latin means "before controversy moved." In our current legal system it is a notification an Ante Litem Notice is the requirement that you notify the entity that an event has occurred and that you intend to file an action based on that event. Ante Litem notices are based in statute and limit your ability to bring a claim if they are not complied with. You are required to issue a letter to the appropriate government entity, this letter is commonly referred to as a Verified Statement of Claim or Verified Notice of Claim.
In Alabama the requirements for your Verified Statement of Claim are explained in: AL Code § 11-47-23 which states that claims for damages arising out of a tort shall be presented within six months of the date of occurrence or will be barred; and, in AL Code § 11-47-192 provides how the notice of claim must be presented. Here are the basics, the notice provided in the Verified Statement of Claim must be sworn, signed and notarized stating that it is accurate information given under oath, and must provide the manner in which the injury occurred, date, time and place of the injury, and the damages claimed.
If your claim is against the State of Alabama or a County of the state the Ante Litem period is twelve (12) months. (AL Code § 11-12-8) The State and County also have their own specific ways that you must provide notice of the claim within this twelve (12) month period of time following the occurrence of the tortious action.
Even if you comply with the Statute of Limitations and file your lawsuit within two (2) years, if you failed to properly send your Ante Litem Notice you will be barred from recovery and the governmental entity will not be required to compensate you for the injuries you suffered.
With that in mind, it is key that if you suspect your injury was caused by a governmental entity that you consult an Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer as soon as possible after the incident occurs. It is often difficult to tell if a governmental entity is a member of the State, County, or City. Therefore, do not wait beyond the six (6) month deadline to consult and attorney, or you are risking losing your ability to be compensated.