When a death impacts a family, it is usually difficult to handle. Survivors think of all the experiences they’ll no longer be able to share with the individual and how much their lives will change. Death can be even harder to bear if a loved one’s death was avoidable. If someone else’s negligence resulted in an individual’s passing, the victim’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
However, Alabama has some laws that are different from those in other states. If you believe someone you love died wrongfully, you should reach out to an Alabama personal injury attorney for advice. In the meantime, this article will share some of the basics of wrongful death claims. You’ll learn about how wrongful death is defined, who can bring a claim, and how long you have to take legal action.
What is A Wrongful Death?
All deaths are upsetting but not all can result in a wrongful death claim. Under Alabama’s laws, a wrongful death is one that is the result of another person’s negligence, omission or wrongful act. This covers a wide variety of scenarios including motor vehicle accidents, fires, dog bites, medical malpractice, and product liability cases.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Unlike what obtains in some states, only the estate of the victim can file a claim for damages. This means the personal representative or executor of the individual’s estate must bring the wrongful death lawsuit. Most other states allow specific family members such as the spouse, parent or child to file a claim. That being said, family members are often named as executors of an individual’s will so the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
A wrongful death action can be brought against an individual or corporation. However, it must be an entity against whom the victim could have filed a personal injury claim if they had survived. If you’re not sure whether you have the authority to file a claim or you don’t know who you should pursue, an Alabama personal injury lawyer can help you.
How Damages Are Awarded in Alabama
Alabama also differs in the way it awards damages. Most states allow plaintiffs to seek compensation for the loss of their loved ones. They can claim economic and non-economic damages for things like loss of income, loss of inheritance, and emotional distress. Even funeral and burial expenses can be recovered in other states. However, Alabama focuses solely on the negligent party’s wrongdoing and, therefore, only allows punitive damages.
This means the at-fault party is required to pay a sum of money as punishment for their actions. Punitive damages are also intended to serve as a deterrent to the individual and other people. The damages are paid to the victim’s heirs and not the estate.
Some people argue that Alabama’s system is unfair, and the amount rarely covers the family’s economic losses. Even though this might not be the ideal solution, it’s the best that can be done if your loved one dies in this state. To ensure you get the best possible outcome, you should contact an Alabama personal injury lawyer at the earliest opportunity. They will ensure that your lawsuit is filed in time and your case is as strong as it can be.
The Statute of Limitations Governing Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Wrongful death claims must generally be filed within two years of the victim’s passing. However, if your claim is against a government department, you may have to file a notice of claim in a much shorter period. If you don’t act within the specified time, you’ll lose the opportunity to do so.
Wrongful death claims can take a long time to settle. Therefore, it is best to consult an attorney and get the process started as soon as possible. You’ll want your lawyer to investigate and build a strong case and this will take time. However, if you allow the statute of limitations to run out, you no longer have this as an option.
Call the Vance Law Firm Today for Expert Legal Advice
If you lost a loved one because of someone else’s actions, you probably want to know more about your legal rights. Reach out to the Alabama personal injury lawyers at The Vance Law Firm and schedule a consultation. We’ll look into the situation and tell you whether you have a case. If you do, we’ll fight on your behalf. Wrongful death cases can be complex and emotionally draining but we have both the legal expertise and the compassion to help you. Call us today!