In 2020, a deadly Marina fire resulted in the death of eight individuals ranging in age from 7 to 54. The national transportation and safety board investigation revealed that limited fire safety practices fueled the fire. The families of two victims are among several different plaintiffs seeking damages in a wrongful death lawsuit against Jackson County, the city of Scottsboro, and some of the Jackson County Commissioners working at the time of the fire, along with 13 other defendants named in the lawsuit.
The fire began at 12:30 a.m. on a Jackson County Park Marina. Firefighters who responded to the fire had difficulty accessing those who were trapped on boats. Many of the victims were in houseboats that were their primary homes. Eight people were confirmed dead, and seven people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claimed that the defendant’s negligence caused the fire that resulted in their loved one’s deaths. Specifically, they claim the following:
- The deck did not have any break-out spots designed to allow people to escape fires
- The marina did not provide boaters with guidance on electrical equipment and issues and failed to perform and will electrical inspections
- The defendants allowed gas grills and non-operational boats on the dock, one of which caught fire
- The defendants did not have a safety skiff at the dock, which rescuers could have used to tow vessels that were on fire to open water away from other structures in watercraft to prevent the fire from spreading to other boats
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Alabama
If your loved one has passed away in a tragic accident, such as the marina fire mentioned above, you may not know what steps you should take. Trying to deal with practical matters can seem overwhelming while you are trying to grieve the preventable death of your loved one. After the shock of your loved one’s death begins to diminish, you may be wondering where to turn. Under Alabama law, the deceased individual’s family has a right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
A wrongful death lawsuit allows family members to recover compensation from the person or company whose negligence or recklessness caused the accident that resulted in their loved one’s death. In the case mentioned above, the family members of the dock fire are bringing a lawsuit against several defendants whose negligence allegedly caused the marina fire.
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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Alabama?
There are many requirements for when a surviving family member can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Under Alabama Law, only specific people have a right to file wrongful-death lawsuits on behalf of their deceased loved ones. Only the personal representative, also known as the executor, can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama. In some states, the deceased individual’s spouse, children, or even parents have a right to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.
However, Alabama follows a stricter rule. Only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative is the individual who was in charge of executing the estate of the deceased individual. If the deceased individual had executed well, he or she likely appointed a personal representative to be in charge of managing and distributing his or her estate. If the deceased individual did not appoint an executor, a probate court in Alabama would appoint an executor or personal representative.
Damages Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Succeeding in a wrongful death lawsuit will not bring your loved one back. However, recovering compensation can help you and your family financially. Plaintiffs are entitled to compensation for the loved one’s medical care, loss of income, compensation for emotional pain and suffering, compensation for a loss of financial support, and compensation for a loss of inheritance. When the deceased individual passed away and had a spouse, the spouse will inherit all the damage award. If the deceased individual had children but no spells, the children would receive the damage award.
Consult With an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer in Alabama
Discussing your loved one’s death can be emotionally challenging. However, it is vital that you discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as possible. You only have a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If you have questions about the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit or whether you have a valid claim, contact Heninger Garrison Davis to schedule your free initial consultation.