A Family’s Guide to Alabama Wrongful Death Cases

A lawsuit may be the last thing that you want to think about after the tragic loss of a loved one in an Alabama accident. You may be, rightfully, focused on your own grief and your family’s mourning.

A wrongful death case may seem overwhelming, but it is important. It is through a wrongful death lawsuit that the person (or business) who killed your loved one may be held accountable. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can handle all of the details of a lawsuit for your loved one’s estate so that you can continue to focus on your family’s emotional well-being during this difficult time.

How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works

In an Alabama wrongful death case:

  • The estate has standing to file a case. According to Alabama Code 6-5-410, only the personal representative of an estate has the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
  • The estate has two years from the time of death to file a lawsuit. However, the personal representative need not wait two years to talk to a wrongful death lawyer and start a claim.
  • The estate may file a case even if a criminal case is not brought by the state. Alabama Code 6-5-410(b) specifically allows a civil wrongful death case to be filed even if no criminal case is brought by the state.

An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help the estate comply with all of the requirements of Alabama law and fight for a fair recovery.

What You May Recover in a Wrongful Death Case

Unlike other states, compensatory damages may not be awarded in an Alabama wrongful death lawsuit. The estate may not recover any damages for funeral costs, medical costs incurred prior to death, or lost income. Instead, the only damages that are available in an Alabama wrongful death case are punitive. The Alabama courts have reasoned that a monetary value should not be attached to a human life. Therefore, any damages that are awarded are designed to punish the person who caused the accident and not to compensate the loved ones of the person who died.

Despite this unique way of calculating wrongful death damages, wrongful death cases remain important for Alabama families who have suffered a loss. We encourage you to learn more about your rights and your potential recovery by working with an experienced Alabama wrongful death lawyer who will work hard on behalf of your loved one’s estate.