Alabama Injury Lawsuit – Part Four – Defendant Answers Or Files Motion To Dismiss

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After you have filed an injury lawsuit and served the defendant, then the defendant has 30 days (14 days if you file in state district court) to file an “answer” or file a “motion to dismiss”.

Let’s start with an answer. In the typical car wreck or truck wreck answer, the defendant will deny virtually all of the allegations you made in the complaint. This is not always proper (a subject for a future article) but this is standard and it means that the defendant is saying, in essence, “prove every part of your case”.

The answer will also contain “affirmative defenses” that say even if the defendant was negligent or reckless in driving the car or operating a semi truck, because of the affirmative defense you lose. Here are some examples. If you sue outside the time period allowed (generally two years) then a defendant could truly be negligent but because of a statute of limitations defense the defendant would win the case. Or in Alabama we have contributory negligence which means that if you are in any way at fault, you generally cannot recover even if the defendant was 99% responsible for your injuries. There are numerous other affirmative defenses that are typically alleged by the defendant.

For right now the important thing to keep in mind is that the defendant will raise affirmative defenses and that the defendant bears the burden of proof on these defenses. The truck driver must prove, for example, that you were contributorily negligent or whatever other affirmative defense the truck driver has pled to escape getting hit with a verdict.

We’ll close with a motion to dismiss. These are not as common in injury cases as in fraud or other types of litigation but they do come up. Basically what the defendant is saying is that the court can look at your complaint, accept everything in there as true, and then apply the law and the only result possible is that you lose. As you might imagine, this is a high standard to meet and should not normally be a major hurdle for you to overcome.

In our next post we’ll discuss what a judge does with a motion to dismiss. As always, we hope these posts are helpful to you and feel free to contact us through this blog if you have any questions.

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