In Alabama, surviving family members may have the right to pursue legal action when a loved one dies due to another party’s wrongful actions.
Depending on the details of your case, you may be eligible to recover compensation in the form of punitive damages.
To recover compensation in this manner, however, an eligible party must file a civil lawsuit within the limited time allowed under state law.
Understanding the statute of limitations and how it affects your claim is critical to protecting your legal rights and preserving your right to recover compensation.
What Is the Alabama Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death?
In most cases, the Alabama wrongful death statute of limitations allows you only two years from the date of the victim’s death to take legal action in a wrongful death claim.
If a legal claim is not filed within this period, you could lose your right to pursue legal action and recover compensation.
In some cases, you have even less time to file a lawsuit for wrongful death.
If a city government or entity was to blame, you must take legal action within six months.
If a county government was at fault, you must file suit within 12 months.
In some cases, you may be able to “stop the clock” on the statute of limitations (known as “tolling”).
However, the ability to toll the statute is limited to a small set of potential circumstances.
Talking to an attorney is the best way to help you determine the deadline for filing legal action in your case.
How to File a Wrongful Death Suit in Alabama
The process through which you must bring a wrongful death action in Alabama is highly complex and potentially confusing, especially if you are not familiar with the state’s unusual laws.
Before a wrongful death claim can be filed, Alabama law requires that a personal representative of the victim be officially designated.
The personal representative then brings legal action for the victim’s wrongful death.
Although you can undertake this process on your own, it could delay your ability to pursue a legal claim if you aren’t familiar with the process or run into many obstacles along the way.
Having an experienced attorney working on your behalf helps protect your legal rights and ensures that your claim is handled in a timely manner.
In many cases, your attorney can successfully negotiate a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
In other cases, however, you might need to pursue a civil suit, making the timeframe of your case even more critical.
How to Prove a Wrongful Death Claim
The elements of a wrongful death suit in Birmingham are essentially the same as they are throughout Alabama and across the United States.
You must demonstrate that the at-fault party’s wrongful actions caused the injury that ultimately cost your loved one their life.
To prove the elements of negligence, your attorney will investigate the circumstances of the victim’s accident and gather evidence and information to demonstrate liability.
In most states, a victim’s family members can pursue compensation for any actual damages they suffered as a result of their loss.
In Alabama, however, you can recover only punitive damages in a wrongful death action.
Punitive damages are intended specifically to punish the at-fault party for their wrongful actions and to discourage others from committing wrongful acts in similar situations.
Any damages that are awarded as a result of an Alabama wrongful death claim go directly to the victim’s heirs, rather than to the victim’s estate.
This means that the family members who are closest to the deceased, such as a spouse or children, will receive the compensation, even if the deceased person named others in their will.
Experienced attorneys understand how to build the most persuasive case possible, help you get justice for your lost loved one, and hold the at-fault party responsible for their actions.
Let a Birmingham, AL Wrongful Death Lawyer Help
At the Fob James Law Firm, our experienced wrongful death attorneys will fight to help you get the best possible outcome for your case.
You don’t have to face this challenging time alone.
We handle every aspect of your case, allowing you to take the time you need to grieve and spend time with loved ones.
We offer a no-cost, no-obligation consultation, including options for video and phone consultations.
We will evaluate your case and help you make the right choice for you, your family, and your future.
You can contact us online or call 205-407-6009 now for help from one of our compassionate and knowledgeable wrongful death attorneys in Birmingham, AL.