What are the Elements of an Alabama Wrongful Death Claim?

When a loved one passes away it is always a painful and difficult experience. When the death of a loved one was caused by an accident or other preventable event, it can be almost unbearable. While nothing will bring the loved one back, pursuing a wrongful death claim can help to provide loved ones with a sense of closure, as well as a sense of justice. In addition, these types of lawsuits often lead to important changes in the way things are done to help ensure someone else doesn’t fall victim to the same issue in the future. Read on to learn more about the different elements of a wrongful death claim in Alabama and what you can expect.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate (who can be a family member). A death is considered “wrongful” when the actions or negligence of another causes the death. In virtually all cases, the lawsuit will be seeking punitive damages from the defendant. If the lawsuit is successful and damages are awarded to the deceased’s estate, it can help compensate their loved ones for the medical expenses incurred, the loss of income that would have been generated by the deceased, the emotional pain and suffering, and much more. In Alabama, the courts find it improper to associate a monetary value on someone’s life. All damages awarded are meant to “punish” the defendant. Some examples of the types of deaths that are considered for a wrongful death include:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Construction accidents
  • Certain cases of murder or manslaughter
  • And more

To put it simply, if someone has died due to the actions or negligence of another, it is possible that the Alabama courts will see it as a wrongful death. The best way to determine if a specific case will qualify is to speak with an attorney with experience in this area.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Alabama law is very specific regarding who can file a wrongful death case. Unlike many other states, the family members can’t file the case on behalf of their loved ones. Instead, the case must be brought by the personal representative of the estate of the deceased (which may be a family member). The representative must initiate the case, and then any damages awarded will be granted to the estate rather than any individual. Once the damages are awarded, they will be distributed according to the instructions from the estate, or by going through probate court, depending on the situation.

We Can Represent Your Alabama Wrongful Death Interests

If a loved one has passed away and you believe a wrongful death case may be appropriate, please make sure to contact us right away. The statute of limitations requires that these cases be filed within two years of the date of death, but it is best to act as soon as is possible. The longer these cases are delayed, the more difficult it can be to gather the needed evidence to make a convincing argument in court.

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Written by John M. Totten

John M. Totten

John's office is in Athens, Alabama, where he has helped thousands of people in North Alabama with everything from family law issues, to catastrophic injury and death cases, to criminal defense.