If you have lost a family member in the state of Alabama due to negligence and wrongful conduct, you can take steps to pursue financial compensation. It is crucial to allow yourself to grieve and heal after experiencing such a significant loss. While being awarded a monetary sum cannot serve as a replacement for your loved one, it can help to ease other burdens.
To gain a deeper understanding of wrongful death lawsuits, we will be examining the following questions:
- How Does the State of Alabama Define “Wrongful Death”?
- Who is Legally Allowed to File an Alabama Wrongful Death Case?
- What Damages Can Be Recovered in an Alabama Wrongful Death Case?
- What is the Deadline for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Alabama?
- How Can You Prove a Wrongful Death Claim in Alabama?
How Does the State of Alabama Define Wrongful Death?
The legal definition of “wrongful death” in the state of Alabama is a death caused by a “wrongful act, omission, or negligence” (Alabama Code §§ 6-5-391 and 6-5-410 (2021). By this definition, it is to be understood that a wrongful death occurs when an individual dies due to another person’s (responsible party’s) negligence. Some examples of wrongful death include personal injury claims and medical malpractice cases, such as:
- Vehicle Wrongful Death Claims: Car Accidents/Truck Accidents
- Medical Malpractice Cases: Administration of the wrong kind/dose of medication.
- Consumer Cases: Use of defective products.
When pursuing compensatory damages through your wrongful death case, a crucial step is proving that your lost loved one’s death was in fact due to negligence. This is one reason it is essential to work with an experienced wrongful death attorney who is familiar with what it takes to prove these types of cases.
Who is Legally Allowed to File an Alabama Wrongful Death Case?
The laws in the state of Alabama allow for individuals with a certain relationship to the deceased of the wrongful death claim to pursue a case. If the deceased was an adult, their family members are able to file a lawsuit. However, state law also declares that to file the claim, you must be a personal representative of the estate. A personal representative is also known as the administrator or executor of the estate.
If the deceased was a minor, either of their parents is able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. *Note that there is a limit in time for them to file. If six months from the date of death have passed, it becomes necessary for a personal representative to file the claim.
Wrongful death cases are time-sensitive issues, which is why even though your loss may be very recent it is important to hire an attorney to fight for your case.
What Damages Can Be Recovered in an Alabama Wrongful Death Case?
Usually, the damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death case are divided into compensatory and punitive damages. However, according to Alabama law, families who have lost a loved one are limited to receiving punitive damages only. This type of compensation aims to punish the responsible parties and deter anyone else from acting out of wrongful conduct.
This is in stark contrast to compensatory damages, where financial compensation is provided to families to help cover the cost of things like medical bills and funeral/burial costs.
What is the Deadline for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Alabama?
The Alabama wrongful death statute of limitations dictates that the deadline for filing a wrongful death claim is two years from the deceased’s date of death.
This is a general rule of thumb. However, it is essential to note that each case is unique, bringing to light the necessity of working with a wrongful death lawyer to ensure your case is handled efficiently and promptly. For example, some cases may be limited to a deadline of six months from the date of death. If you miss the deadline, you may lose any opportunity to file a lawsuit.
How Can You Prove a Wrongful Death Claim in Alabama?
In order to prove a wrongful death claim, it is essential to obtain and present evidence that the responsible parties displayed negligence which resulted in the decedent’s death. For example, in the event of a car accident caused by an individual who runs a red light, video footage would suffice as evidence.
Likewise, in a medical malpractice case, it would be crucial to provide evidence that the medical professionals caring for your loved one did not fulfill their “duty of care”. For example, a nurse who gave a patient too large a dose of medication or even the wrong medication entirely-these actions could have resulted in their death. In this instance, other medical professionals may be brought in to examine the case and determine if the nurse was acting in negligence.
As you can see, some wrongful death cases can be easier to prove than others. This is why working with an experienced attorney can greatly assist you, as they are experienced in reviewing a case from every angle and discovering ways to prove negligence did in fact take place.
Work with an Expert Wrongful Death Lawyer in Alabama
Working with an experienced wrongful death lawyer can mean the difference between winning your case versus missing deadlines and possibly the opportunity to pursue your wrongful death claim at all. At Strickland and Kendall, LLC, our job is to come alongside you and take the steps necessary to bring your case and ultimately fight to achieve a favorable outcome, allowing you to receive punitive damages for your wrongful death claim.
We are here to walk alongside you as you and your family grieve your loss and take steps towards healing. Our team is available to you 24/7 for a free consultation to evaluate your case and advise you on the necessary next steps. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!