A loved one’s death is always tragic and difficult to deal with. This loss can be even more troubling if it came as a result of negligent acts on behalf of another person.
A Wrongful Death Lawsuit aims to hold the person whose actions led to another’s death accountable and liable for costs and damages related to the death, paid to the victim’s estate.
Wrongful death claims can be confusing for people unfamiliar with laws and statutes surrounding these situations.
In this blog, we discuss the legal process for Alabama wrongful death claims, how long a victim’s loved ones or family members have to file a wrongful death claim, and how a wrongful death attorney can help you seek compensation you are rightfully owed.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death case is a claim for the death of a person resulting from the wrongful or negligent acts of another person.
Wrongful death claims can arise in situations where death has occurred at the fault of another person, typically in situations such as car accidents, medical malpractice, construction accidents, product liability, criminal acts, and more.
Wrongful death cases are extremely hard for families of deceased victims to go through. Each state has different laws on filing wrongful death claims, so it’s important that the families of victims do a lot of research on the process and contact an experienced law firm for help and guidance.
How are Wrongful Death Lawsuits Different from Criminal Charges for Victim’s Death?
It’s important to know that a defendant can face a wrongful death suit and criminal charges for the same incident that led to a victim’s death. The difference between a criminal case against a defendant for a victim’s death and a wrongful death lawsuit is the standard of evidence required.
In criminal cases, a defendant’s liability must be established beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning a judge or jury must be convinced that there is no other reasonable explanation for the death other than the defendant’s wrongdoing.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, a defendant’s liability in the situation must only be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that it must be proven that it’s more likely than not that the defendant’s actions led to the victim’s death.
Alabama Wrongful Death Laws
In Alabama, wrongful death is defined as a death that has occurred due to the wrongful act, omission, or negligence of another party.
The Alabama Code further states the following in accordance with wrongful death laws:
- “A personal representative may commence an action and recover such damages as the jury may assess in a court of competent jurisdiction within the State of Alabama, and not elsewhere, for the wrongful act, omission, or negligence of any person, persons, or corporation, his or their servants or agents, whereby the death of his testator or intestate was caused, provided the testator or intestate could have commenced an action for such wrongful act, omission, or negligence if it had not caused death.”
- “Such action shall not abate by the death of the defendant, but may be revived against his personal representative and may be maintained though there has not been prosecution, conviction or acquittal of the defendant for the wrongful act, omission, or negligence.”
- “The damages recovered are not subject to the payment of the debts or liabilities of the testator or intestate, but must be distributed according to the statute of distributions.”
- “Such action must be commenced within two years from and after the death of the testator or intestate.”
Alabama Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
As stated in the last bullet of the above quoted Alabama code on wrongful death claims, if a defendant’s wrongful actions resulted in a loved one’s death, the surviving family members have 2 (two) years to file a wrongful death claim. The law that prohibits legal action greater than 2 (two) years removed from the death is called the statute of limitations.
Alabama law requires that wrongful death claims be made within this time period because if more than two years pass, key evidence could be lost or ruined and witnesses can forget information vital to the case.
The Alabama statute of limitations can be extended if the wrongful death claim is related to certain events such as medical malpractice, if cause of death was originally unknown, if a victim was a minor, if criminal prosecution takes longer than expected, and more.
Contact an experienced attorney for case-by-case information if you believe that your wrongful death claim can be exempted from certain statute of limitations rules.
Hiring a Wrongful Death Attorney in Alabama
For a wrongful death claim, an attorney must prove that the defendant acted in a negligent or wrongful manner that resulted in the death. Experienced attorneys can help the family of a victim prove this and get on track to rightfully owed compensation.
Wrongful Death Damages
Alabama has some unique laws when it comes to wrongful death lawsuits and the damages a deceased person’s estate can recover for the death of their loved one. Below are laws specific to Alabama wrongful death claims:
- Only punitive damages are able to be recovered, compensatory damages are not able to be recovered by a deceased person’s family. Punitive damages are a type of personal injury damage used to punish defendants for their negligence. Compensatory damages are damages that replace the financial loss of a victim’s estate.
- An Alabama wrongful death claim requires a personal representative of the decedent’s estate to recover compensation. Only the personal representative of the victim’s estate can recover damages.
- Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation for medical bills, funeral expenses, emotional damage, pain and suffering, or any other compensatory damages found in wrongful death lawsuits in other states.
Bodewell Law: Alabama Wrongful Death Attorneys
Bodewell Law is committed to helping secure compensation for the family members of wrongful death victims.
We understand the troubling times you’re going through, and we’ll use our legal expertise to ensure that you’re compensated to the fullest extent for the hardship you’re enduring.
Contact us for a free consultation or use the chatbot on our website to see if you qualify for an Alabama Wrongful Death Case instantly.