Coping with a loved one’s death can be extremely difficult, both emotionally and financially. Knowing what to do after your loved one’s death can be difficult. If your loved one passed away as a result of another person’s negligent or reckless actions, you may be entitled to damages through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Many families are unaware that they can file a wrongful death lawsuit for damages for funeral costs, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering. When your loved one dies as a result of someone else’s negligence or misconduct, the surviving family can bring a wrongful death lawsuit and seek damages. There are certain requirements for bringing a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama that we will explore.
Who can File an Alabama Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Under Alabama law, there are restrictions as to who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death occurs when another person or corporation causes a person’s death caused by a “wrongful act, omission, or negligence.” Alabama does not allow a family member to bring a wrongful death lawsuit directly. On the contrary, only a personal representative of the deceased family member can bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
In other words, if your father passed away as a result of a negligent driver, you cannot bring a personal injury lawsuit unless you have been appointed as your father’s estate executor. Representatives need to be at least 19 years of age, they cannot have been convicted of any “infamous crime,” and the executors must be competent to serve in the role of executor.
When the estate brings a successful wrongful death lawsuit, the court will award the damages from the lawsuit to family members according to Alabama’s intestacy laws. Even if the deceased individual did not have a will, in most cases, family members of the deceased individual will recover the damages from a wrongful death lawsuit.
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Elements You Need to Prove to Succeed in an Alabama Wrongful Death Claim
Your estate will need to prove the defendant owed your deceased loved one a duty of care at the time of their death and breached that duty. If your loved one died due to a traffic accident caused by a drunk driver, the drunk driver breached his or her duty to your loved one. You will also need to prove causation, that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of your loved one’s death. For example, you will need to show that drunk driving caused your loved one’s injuries. Every wrongful death is unique, but certain accidents are common causes of wrongful death, including the following:
- Car accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and fall accidents
- Defective products
What Damages can You Recover Due to a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Alabama’s wrongful death lawsuits award damages. Successful wrongful death plaintiffs can recover punitive damages as well as burial costs. These damages can help families immensely in the aftermath of a loved one’s death. It can often be extremely difficult to pay for expenses following a loved one’s death, and medical debt can cripple the surviving family’s ability to pay.
In Alabama, the jury must consider the wrongful act of the defendant and the need to punish the defendant. The jury can ensure that the punitive damages are large enough to prevent further wrongful deaths from happening. Punitive damage awards warn other potential defendants that they will face significant penalties in the form of damages if they act in a similarly negligent manner.
The Statute of Limitations for Alabama Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If your loved one passed away in an accident and you are considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it is wise to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Under Alabama law, a deceased person’s estate only has two years from the date of their death to file a statute of limitations lawsuit. Speaking with an experienced lawyer will help you ensure that your loved one’s estate files a wrongful death lawsuit in time. At Heninger Garrison Davis, we will help meet the deadlines for the statute of limitations.
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Contact Our Experienced Alabama Wrongful Death Lawyers Today
At Heninger Garrison Davis, our lawyers have extensive experience helping individuals obtain compensation for wrongful death lawsuits. The sooner you speak to an experienced lawyer, the better. Contact us as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can advocate for you.