Nothing can prepare you for the untimely loss of a loved one. If you’re reeling after a loved one’s death, you probably feel overwhelmed and may not have the strength to handle a wrongful death claim alone.
Thankfully, you don’t have to. The personal injury lawyers at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys are here to help handle your legal claim and allow you to grieve and heal in the way that works best for you.
Keep reading to learn more about five essentials of Alabama wrongful death claims.
1. Only the Estate of the Deceased Person Can File an Alabama Wrongful Death Claim
Alabama’s wrongful death laws are different than any other state. In some states, the family of the wrongful death victim can file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit themselves. However, in Alabama, the only person who can file a wrongful death claim is the court-appointed personal representative of your deceased loved one’s estate.
This means that before you file a wrongful death claim, you need to go through a separate legal process in the Alabama probate courts. If you have questions about opening an estate and appointing a personal representative, you should consult with an experienced attorney.
2. You Can Only Demand Punitive Damages in an Alabama Wrongful Death Claim
In most states, wrongful death claims focus on compensatory damage, that compensate the victims for their lost income, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other personal losses.
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Instead, you can only demand punitive damages in an Alabama wrongful death claim. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and discourage other people or entities from the same behavior.
Therefore, Alabama wrongful death claims do not focus on the financial loss families suffer due to their loved one’s passing but rather focus on the misconducts that lead to their death. Accordingly, the amount of an Alabama wrongful death settlement or jury award will depend on the severity of the wrongdoer’s behavior.
3. There’s a Two-Year Filing Deadline in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Alabama sets filing deadlines known as statutes of limitations for all personal injury lawsuits. In a wrongful death claim, the estate representative must file the lawsuit within two years of the victim’s passing. If they fail to do so, the family loses the right to compensation.
Never wait until the last moment to file your claim. Wrongful death cases take time to investigate and prepare. Your lawyer will need to carefully review your loved one’s medical records, talk to witnesses, and calculate the estate’s potential damages. They’ll also need to open an estate with the probate court — a process that typically involves filing documents and attending hearings before a judge, which could be lengthy in and of itself.
If you wait too long, it will be impossible to complete all these tasks within the filing deadline.
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4. Even if Your Loved One Had a Will, Wrongful Death Compensation Is Distributed Under Alabama’s Inheritance Laws
An estate typically must pay the deceased’s debts and taxes before distributing its property according to the person’s will. If there isn’t a will, the personal representative must follow a series of strict inheritance laws. However, different rules apply to Alabama wrongful death settlements and awards.
When you settle or win a wrongful death claim in Alabama, you do not have to deduct the victim’s unpaid bills before you distribute the proceeds. This ensures that the victims’ loved ones get the full compensation they deserve.
However, wrongful death compensation is always distributed according to Alabama’s inheritance laws — even if the victim has a valid will, which means certain loved ones may be left out of a wrongful death claim. For example, long-term partners and good friends cannot receive assets under our state’s inheritance laws.
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5. You’ll Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer to Hold the Wrongdoer Accountable
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we understand the power of a wrongful death lawsuit. When done right, these proceedings can give you closure after a tragedy, hold those responsible accountable for their misconduct, discourage similar behavior in the future, and provide financial security to surviving loved ones.
However, Alabama wrongful death claims require extensive technical and legal knowledge. Most grieving loved ones don’t have the capacity or expertise needed to open an estate, file a wrongful death claim, and document the at-fault party’s wrongdoing.
When you work with an aggressive wrongful death attorney, you get peace of mind and space to mourn your loved one. Our wrongful death lawyers know how to carefully investigate these claims and calculate your loved one’s damages. We’re also not afraid to take a wrongful death case to trial, when necessary.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys:
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we offer emotional support and strength to our clients. Our wrongful death lawyers assist clients with wrongful death claims throughout Alabama and the Gulf Coast and have recovered hundreds of millions on their behalf.
If another person or entity caused your loved one’s untimely death through their misconduct, please call251-888-8888 or complete this brief online form to schedule your free consultation where we can discuss the particulars of your claim and begin developing a preliminary legal strategy.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.