There is nothing more devastating than the death of a beloved spouse, child, or parent, especially when that death was caused by someone else’s negligence. Although we can’t ever make up for the loss of your loved one, our Huntsville, AL wrongful death attorney can help you hold the negligent party responsible for their actions and compensate your loved one’s estate.
The Alabama legal code defines wrongful death as when a person or corporation causes the death of another person through a “wrongful act, omission, or negligence.” Essentially, a wrongful death claim can be filed in any situation in which the victim could have filed a personal injury claim had they lived.
Common causes of wrongful death include:
A wrongful death claim can also be filed in cases where someone is killed intentionally. Because wrongful death lawsuits are filed in civil court rather than criminal court, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party who caused the death even if no criminal charges were ever brought against them. You can also file a wrongful death lawsuit even if the party who caused the death was found not guilty of criminal charges.
According to Alabama law, a wrongful death lawsuit cannot be filed by the surviving family members alone. It can only be filed by the executor of the deceased’s estate. However, the executor of the estate can file a lawsuit on behalf of the surviving family members, and the law does not prevent a family member from acting as executor.
Alabama law is unique because the state doesn’t allow compensatory damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. That includes compensation for medical bills, funeral expenses, lost income, emotional distress, and loss of companionship.
However, wrongful death lawsuits do allow for punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and discourage others from behaving similarly, rather than to compensate the family of the deceased. This means the amount of the damages will depend on the degree of negligence, and how much the judge feels the wrongdoer deserves to be punished.
Damages are not considered part of the estate but are paid to the estate. This means they are not distributed according to the deceased’s will or trust, but instead paid directly to the deceased’s surviving family according to Alabama’s intestacy laws (the rules that dictate how an estate is divided up if someone dies without leaving a will).
You must file a wrongful death claim within two years of the death in order to qualify for damages. However, in some cases, such as if the claim is against a city or county, the deadline to file a claim may be much shorter. Typically, the earlier you file, the better your chances of success. We recommend speaking with an experienced wrongful death attorney about your loved one’s wrongful death as soon as possible after your loss.
If your loved one died because of someone else’s negligence, leaving you struggling with bills after their loss and feeling like you have no path to justice, you need the help of the team at Tyler Mann Injury Law.
During this difficult time, our team will treat you with compassion and respect so you can focus on how to move forward without worrying about the paperwork surrounding getting compensation from the party responsible. Allow us to take over the legalities, and we’ll do everything within our power to get your family the compensation you justly deserve after the wrongful death of your loved one.