Wrongful Death Attorney in Birmingham, Alabama
In 2020, 932 people were killed on Alabama roadways in 853 crashes. In more than 500 of those crashes, drivers were negligent in the operation of their vehicle by such actions as disobeying lights and signs, failing to yield the right of way, speeding, driving while under the influence or while fatigued, and driving aggressively.
Motor vehicle crashes are just one way someone’s negligence can lead to the death of an innocent victim. Slip-and-fall accidents, dog bites, nursing home negligence, and medical malpractice are some of the other ways people die when they don't have to.
Grieving the loss of a loved one who has died unexpectedly is difficult. When that unexpected death occurred because of someone else’s negligence, the loss seems even more tragic.
If you have experienced the wrongful death of a loved one in Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Hoover, or Bessemer, Alabama, there are valid reasons for holding the responsible party accountable for your loss. At Kies Law LLC, we can help you do that.
Why Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim?
Some people question why they should file a wrongful death claim against those responsible for the loss of a loved one. It will not bring them back. It may feel like profiting from the death. Is it worth it? Only you can decide, but there are reasons why you should pursue a claim.
A wrongful death claim holds the negligent party legally liable for their actions. Determining fault and holding them accountable may not only keep that person from harming someone else again but may discourage others from committing similar acts of negligence. What you do may keep another family from experiencing the loss and grief you are going through.
Moreover, a wrongful death action is not profiting from death. You will suffer financial losses as well as the loss of your loved one’s presence in your life. There may be medical and funeral expenses. You and your family will lose the income your loved one provided or would have provided had they lived. Those are the economic losses. You will also experience the very real damages that are much more difficult to place a price on, such as the loss of companionship, guidance, and the services that person provided for you and your family every day.
A wrongful death settlement can ease the financial burden you will experience, not only in the wake of your loss, but also in the years ahead. In addition to providing you with routine financial support, you can use the proceeds for things such as paying for a child’s college education, buying the home you and your loved one were saving for, or benefiting a charity in your loved one’s memory.
What Does Alabama Consider as a Wrongful Death?
Alabama law defines wrongful death as the death of someone due to the negligence, wrongful act, or omission of another party. A wrongful death can result from the intentional act of someone, as in the case of assault or murder, for example. It can occur as a result of negligence, such as in an auto accident. Or, it can be the result of a lack of professional diligence such as in a medical malpractice claim.
Alabama law also establishes a time limit for filing a wrongful death action. In general, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of death. You have two years to either settle a claim with an insurance company or to file a lawsuit against the party in civil court. The filing of the lawsuit essentially stops the clock on the two-year time limit, allowing you time to pursue your case in the justice system.
If your loved one was a minor at the time of death, the two-year statute of limitations is tolled not from the date of death, but from the date of the child’s 18th birthday.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Action in Alabama?
Not everyone can file a wrongful death claim or a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama. If the victim is an adult, only the personal representative for the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death action on behalf of the estate and its heirs. If the victim had a will, the personal representative will be named in it. If the victim died intestate, the probate court will appoint someone to serve as personal representative.
If the victim was a minor, the parents may file a wrongful death action within six months of the child’s date of death. However, if the parents do not file a claim in that time, the personal representative of the child’s estate may do so within the two-year statutory period.
What Damages Are Recoverable in Alabama Wrongful Death Actions?
Alabama law works differently than most other states. Instead of filing to specifically recover compensatory damages, such as the cost of medical treatment or burial expenses for the decedent, wrongful death claims recover punitive damages.
Punitive damages are exemplary. They are designed to punish the wrongdoer and discourage others from committing similar behavior. They are not specifically enumerated by the economic and non-economic losses suffered by the heirs to the decedent’s estate.
The intent of wrongful death actions in Alabama is punishment of the person responsible, not to compensate the victim’s survivors for specific losses. However, since punitive damages will be awarded to the estate, the heirs will benefit from them.
Wrongful Death Attorney Serving Birmingham, Alabama
If someone else is responsible for the death of your loved one, work with a Birmingham, Alabama, personal injury attorney to pursue a claim. At Kies Law LLC, we are qualified to help you in your wrongful death action. Call us now to schedule a free case consultation.