The People's Law School
by Michael A. Worel
Cunningham, Bounds, Crowder, Brown & Breedlove, L.L.C.
1601 Dauphin street, Mobile, Alabama 36604
April 3, 2006
A History of Medical Malpractice Actions in Alabama
A. The Standard of Care adopted by the Alabama Supreme Court in 1901 (McDonald v.
The reasonable and ordinary care, skill, and diligence
That physicians and surgeons
in the same general neighborhood
in the same general line of practice
Ordinarily have and exercise
in a like case
under like conditions.
B. Causation – Plaintiff had to prove that the physician's negligence "probably caused the
1. "There must be something more than a mere possibility--something more than one
possibility among others--that the negligence complained of was the cause of
the injury. There must be some evidence to the effect that such negligence
probably caused the injury." Pappa v. Bonner, Alabama Supreme Court
2. If prompt diagnosis and treatment probably would have increased the patient's
chances, plaintiff has met this burden of proof: "although prompt diagnosis
and treatment might not have prevented a massive heart attack, such could
have delayed or even prevented a terminal attack and impeded further damage
to the heart." Waddell v. Jordan, Alabama Supreme Court 1974.
C. In 1975, the Alabama Legislature adopted the Alabama Medical Liability Act, now found
at sections 6-5-480 through 6-5-488 of the Code of Alabama.
1. Statute of limitations:
A plaintiff has two years after the act or omission giving rise to the
claim to file a complaint.
For example, if the malpractice was not discovered and could
not reasonably have been discovered, the plaintiff has until six
month after the discovery, but not more than four years after
the act. § 6-5-482.
A minor under 19 has four years or until his or her 21st
birthday, whichever comes first, and a child under four has
until his or her eighth birthday. § 6-