What Are Alabama’s Laws for Wrongful Death Claims?

What Are Alabama’s Laws for Wrongful Death Claims

When a person dies due to someone else’s negligent or reckless action or inaction, an Alabama wrongful death claim may allow the person’s surviving family members to hold the responsible party financially accountable. But how does Alabama law govern wrongful death claims? 

Understanding Wrongful Death in Alabama

Under Alabama’s wrongful death statute, a wrongful death claim arises when someone causes the death of an individual through wrongful acts, omissions, or negligence. The law states that a wrongful death claim may arise under the same circumstances that would have given the deceased person the right to pursue a personal injury claim had they survived their final injury. 

For example, a wrongful death claim may arise from a deadly car accident, a fatal injury caused by a defective product, medical malpractice, or an assault, provided the victim would have had grounds to pursue a personal injury claim had their injuries not resulted in death.

The statute of limitations on wrongful death claims requires the filing of a lawsuit within two years of the death. Although limited circumstances may extend the time for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the trial court can dismiss any lawsuit after the applicable limitations period expires on a wrongful death claim. Survivors who fail to file by the deadline may forfeit their right to seek compensation.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Alabama?

Alabama wrongful death law typically requires the decedent’s personal representative, such as the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate, to pursue any wrongful death claim. 

If the decedent didn’t identify a personal representative in their will, a court may appoint a close family member, such as a surviving spouse, child, parent, or sibling, to serve as the administrator or executor of the estate. The law further requires the personal representative to file the wrongful death case in the county where the decedent could have filed their personal injury lawsuit had they survived.

One exception is that, when a minor child dies, the law allows the child’s mother or father to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. If the parents fail or decline to file suit within six months of the child’s death, the child’s personal representative can bring the claim.

Types of Wrongful Death Damages and Compensation

Although no amount of money can bring a loved one back, pursuing compensation in a wrongful death suit can give a family some small measure of justice. Obtaining a financial recovery can also help families deal with the economic consequences of a loved one’s passing, especially if their loved one provided a significant financial contribution to the family.

A wrongful death attorney can help your family pursue compensation. However, Alabama allows the recovery of only punitive damages in wrongful death lawsuits, not compensatory damages. Punitive damages do not compensate the deceased person’s family for specific losses they’ve incurred, but rather such damages punish the party responsible for the death and discourage others from engaging in the same kind of wrongful act.

Contact Our Alabama Wrongful Death Attorneys for Help 

After your family has lost a loved one, a wrongful death lawyer can help you learn how to file a wrongful death claim. Contact Stokes Stemle, LLC, today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss how our firm can pursue financial recovery and justice for your family’s loss.

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Wrongful death and personal injury Attorneys, Josh and John

At Stokes Stemle, LLC, we believe in personalized service. We get to know you, your case, and your needs. Then, we craft a legal strategy that is specially tailored to you.