Wrongful death, as defined by Alabama Law, is a death that is caused by the wrongful act, omission, or negligence or another. In Alabama, the estate of the deceased person may bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the party at fault in any case that the deceased person would have been entitled to bring a personal injury suit if he or she had lived. A wrongful death claim is essentially a personal injury claim in which the deceased person is incapable of pursuing damages; it is therefore is taken on by the deceased person’s estate. Any damages recovered are paid to the heirs of the deceased.
Alabama law differs greatly from other states in the way in which damages are awarded in a wrongful death claim. Under Alabama law, only punitive damages may be awarded, which are intended to punish the party responsible for the death for their negligence. Compensatory damages cannot be recovered in a wrongful death suit, providing some measure of justice to the families of the deceased party.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful deaths can occur in many ways:
- Car and truck accidents
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents
- Prescription drugs deaths
- Hospital errors
- Accidental slip and falls
- On the job accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Malfunctioning vehicles
- Product liability
- Nursing home negligence
- Medical malpractice
- Exposure to toxic substances
- Fires and explosions
- Many other instances where someone caused the death of another by acting negligently or carelessly.
Why to Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim?
When you’ve lost a loved one, nothing can make it right, but someone can often be made to pay. Although compensatory damages will not be awarded in an Alabama wrongful death claim, a measure of justice can be achieved by seeking punitive damages against those whose negligent, careless, or deliberate act caused a wrongful death. In cases of medical malpractice, drunk driving, malfunctioning products, and more, it is important to take action against those who have negligently caused a wrongful death to prevent similar accidents from happening again. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the wrongdoer, and such punishment is intended to deter future negligent actions from occurring, which contributes to an overall more just society. Although wrongful death claims are civil actions, punitive damages awarded against the party at fault have severe consequences for the individual, medical provider, corporation, etc., and are an important part of our justice system.
Statute of Limitations on a Wrongful Death Claim
In Alabama, the time the deceased person’s estate has to file a wrongful death claim is two years after the death. If the wrongful death claim is being filed against a city, a notice of claim must be filed prior to filing the lawsuit, and this must be done within six months of the death. If the claim is being filed against a county, a notice of claim must be filed within one year of the death and prior to filing the lawsuit. Because there are strict statutes of limitations on wrongful death suits, it is critical that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney who has a proven success rate with these claims, and who has the specialized knowledge of Alabama’s wrongful death statute.
Why Choose Drake Law to Represent Your Family?
The attorneys at the Drake law firm have the education, knowledge, and expertise necessary to effectively pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. As a small law firm dedicated exclusively to personal injury law, the attorneys are skilled professionals who provide individualized attention to each and every case and client they take on. We are passionate about bringing justice to those wronged by another party’s negligent actions and understand how important it is to pursue such cases. If you or someone you loved has been affected by the loss of a family member due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another, call Drake Law for a free consultation today, and put our 25 years of total experience to work for you.