When someone dies because of another’s wrongful or negligent conduct, the law in most states gives the victim’s survivors a claim for damages against the wrongdoer.
This is also true in Alabama. § 6-5-410 of the Alabama Code provides a remedy for wrongful death against any person or corporation responsible for the death of another caused by any “wrongful act, omission, or negligence”.
But, Alabama’s wrongful death statute is unique in several important ways.
First, any wrongful death claim must by law be brought by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate.
Second, unlike most states, Alabama’s wrongful death law does not allow for the recovery of compensatory damages. Instead, Alabama permits punitive damages only. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and discourage similar misconduct.
Third, even though the wrongful death claim must be brought by the personal representative of the victim’s estate, any damages awarded are paid to the heirs of the deceased, and are not made a part of the estate.
The Statute of Limitations within which a wrongful death action can be brought is two (2) years. However, in some situations, (for example when the claim is against a city or county) a notice of the claim must be filed in a much shorter period of time. Failure to give a required notice or to file suit prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations will likely result in a loss of the claim.
If your loved one has died as the result of another’s wrongful conduct or negligence, contact us for a free consultation.
Call us at 205-553-5353 or come by our Tuscaloosa office to get started.