Wrongful death lawsuits are an essential means by which family members and loved ones can collect compensation for the damages they suffer when someone dies as the result of someone else’s malicious deliberate acts or careless incompetence. These suits are designed to help offset the financial harm you suffer from such a loss.
However, the law only provides for certain people to file such a suit, and there are specific time frames under which the lawsuit must be filed. Discover some facts and information about who can file a wrongful death lawsuit, the time frame, and how a qualified injury attorney can help.
The Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The first thing to understand is that you can file a wrongful death suit even if there have been no criminal charges filed, or the defendant has been found not guilty of criminal charges. The wrongful death suit is a civil case and completely separate and distinct from any criminal case that may be filed.
The damages you can collect from a wrongful death lawsuit are somewhat different in the state of Alabama than in other states. While in most areas you can collect damages for things like emotional trauma, medical bills, funeral expenses and the like, in Alabama you can only file for punitive damages.
Wrongful Death and Punitive Damages
The reason for courts in Alabama awarding only punitive damages is that the state sees a wrongful death suit as a punitive case. The purpose of it is not just to award families damages; it’s to punish the perpetrator and to act as a deterrent against other acts in the future by other people. Such damages are then awarded directly to the heirs and don’t become part of the estate.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Each state has its own regulations on who is entitled to file such a case, and in Alabama, it’s different than other places in the country. While in most states the surviving family members have the right to file, in Alabama the only one who can file such a claim is the personal representative of the estate. In other words, only the estate can bring a claim, and not family members or heirs (unless said family member is also the estate representative). This representative is appointed by the courts or may be named as executor in the will.
Statute of Limitations
Every state has a statute of limitations on wrongful death. This means there’s a specific time frame after the death in which you must file; otherwise, the claim will generally be viewed as invalid by the courts. In Alabama, this statute of limitations is two years after the date of death. There are certain factors that can alter this, but they are very specific and case-by-case.
Alabama Wrongful Death Lawyer
If you’re in Alabama and you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, it’s in your best interests to consult an Alabama wrongful death lawyer. For more information on who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama, contact Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys and get a free consultation on your case today.