The death of a loved one can be very difficult under any circumstances. However, it can be particularly trying when it was caused by someone else’s negligence. Like other states, Alabama allows wrongful death lawsuit claims to be brought before the civil court. However, the state has some unique laws which residents may not be aware of. If you are considering suing someone for wrongful death, there are a number of factors you need to know. You will need to contact an attorney for advice. However, it can be helpful to know the basics. Keep reading to find out how Alabama defines wrongful death, who can sue and the time limits on taking action.
Under Alabama law, wrongful death is one caused by someone’s “wrongful act, omission, or negligence”. This covers a wide scope of possibilities. It can refer to a speeding driver who causes an accident or a nurse who administers the wrong medication. It can even cover a property owner who failed to cover an open manhole on their property.
Section 6-5-410 of the Code of Alabama stipulates that only the estate of a deceased person can bring a wrongful death suit. This means only the legally appointed personal representative of the deceased’s estate can pursue the negligent party. This person has otherwise known as the executor the estate. This requirement puts Alabama in contrast with other states. Most allow the family of the deceased to bring the claim. Of course, a family member who was named as a personal representative can file a claim in Alabama.
Another thing you need to be aware of is exactly who can be sued. Wrongful death action may be brought against any person or corporation. However, it must be a party against whom the deceased could a personal injury claim if they were alive. Personal injury claims can stem from things like slips and falls, dog bites, and car accidents. These provisions are important, and a personal injury attorney can explain all the nuances to you.
Alabama is not only unique in that it only allows the estate to bring a wrongful death suit. It also stands out in the way it awards damages. In most states in the US, plaintiffs can seek compensation for the loss of the victim. This allows survivors to recoup both economic and non-economic losses caused by their loved one’s death. They can seek compensatory damages for loss of income, emotional distress, loss of support, loss of inheritance and more. This is not the case in Alabama. That state only provides for punitive damages.
Punitive damages are awarded to the at-fault party to punish them and deter others from acting similarly. The damages are paid to the heirs of the deceased and not their estate. This means the damages are not paid according to the deceased’s will if there was one. Instead, they are distributed as if the person died without a will. Family members who were not named in the will could receive compensation. This is something that you need to think seriously about if you want to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Family matters can be very complicated, so it is important to have an in-depth conversation with an attorney.
Wrongful death claims must be filed in the courts within two years of the deceased’s passing. However, it’s different if the city or county will be the defendant. You may be required to file a notice of claim in a much shorter period. If you fail to fie within the stipulated deadlines, it is unlikely that you will be able to get compensation.
Since these cases can take a long time, it is best to begin proceedings as soon as possible. It is better if the deceased had started a personal injury claim while they were alive. The pending lawsuit could be more or less turned into a wrongful death suit. This could allow for additional compensation. Wrongful death cases typically don’t allow evidence regarding the deceased’s pain and suffering. However, personal injury claims do. This could make a big difference in the award of damages to the estate. If the deceased didn’t file a suit, you can still get compensation with a skilled attorney on your side.
If you’re still not sure whether you have a valid case, contact us today for a consultation. Call us as soon as possible since time is of the essence. We will listen to the facts and advise you on how to proceed. Wrongful death cases can be hard to understand but we know the law. We have several years of experience as wrongful death lawsuit lawyers in Montgomery, AL. Reach out to us today and we will work on your behalf.