The death of a loved one is always painful, but that pain is particularly acute when the death resulted from someone else’s wrongdoing. However, depending on the circumstances, you could be entitled to file a wrongful death claim against the person responsible for your loved one’s passing. A successful wrongful death claim could provide you with financial security and a measure of justice during a difficult time.
At the law firm of Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., our Athens wrongful death attorneys have been representing people in your position since 1966. We have secured millions of dollars on their behalf in that time. Let us put our skills and experience to work for you.
We offer free consultations and work on a contingency basis, so there are no upfront costs to working with an Athens wrongful death lawyer from our firm. Contact us now for a free claim review.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim Under Alabama Law?
A wrongful death claim is a way for surviving family members to seek justice when a loved one’s death was another party’s fault. But what, exactly, is wrongful death?
Alabama state law defines it as a death caused by someone else’s wrongful actions, omissions, or negligence. In some states, a wrongful death claim is brought on behalf of a decedent’s estate to secure the compensation that person would have been entitled to had they lived. In Alabama, however, a wrongful death claim is meant to punish the at-fault party for their wrongdoing by making them pay money to the decedent’s heirs.
Wrongful death lawsuits are handled in civil court, which means there are no criminal penalties for a person found liable for causing another person’s death. Instead, when a negligent individual is found liable for that person’s death, they are responsible for paying damages in the form of money to the deceased person’s beneficiaries.
Accidents That Can Lead to a Wrongful Death Claim in Athens
Wrongful deaths are frequently the result of accidents, such as:
- Unsafe or dangerous consumer products
- Dog bites or animal attacks
- Work-related accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
Accidents are not the only cause of wrongful deaths. Deliberate acts such as assault or murder also meet the state’s definition of wrongful death.
If someone else was in some way directly responsible for your loved one’s death, you could be entitled to file a wrongful death claim against that party. Contact our Athens wrongful death lawyers to discuss your legal options.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Athens, AL?
Even though family members are the ones most impacted by the death of a loved one, they are not always responsible for pursuing a wrongful death case. Alabama gives that power to the personal representative or executor of the deceased individual’s estate. That person is typically named in the decedent’s will. An executor manages the decedent’s estate and the distribution of their assets. In cases where an individual passes away without naming an executor, the court can decide who will serve in the role.
People who may be eligible to serve as the personal representative of the deceased include:
- Surviving spouse
- Next of kin, including surviving children
- Another blood relative if there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent
If the deceased is a minor under the age of 19, Alabama law gives the parents of the minor six months to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Once that time limit expires, the minor’s personal representative is the only party who can file the claim.
Although the executor is responsible for filing the claim, damages are awarded to the deceased individual’s beneficiaries.
What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Alabama does not allow survivors to pursue compensatory damages in wrongful death lawsuits. Compensatory damages typically cover losses like burial expenses, funeral costs, lost wages, lost benefits, and medical bills. Instead, Alabama allows for only punitive damages in a wrongful death claim. Punitive damages are a form of financial punishment levied on an individual for their wrongdoing.
Alabama does not place a cap on the punitive damages that a family may recover. However, it takes a skilled wrongful death attorney to build a strong case outlining the gross negligence and wrongdoing of the at-fault party.
Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Claims in Athens
Alabama does not give you unlimited time to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death suit must be filed within two years of the decedent’s death. Failing to file within this time can waive your ability to recover valuable compensation. Most cases filed after the statute of limitations has expired are dismissed as untimely, preventing survivors from seeking compensation through the courts.
How Our Athens Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Help
Wrongful death lawsuits can be complicated. A dedicated and knowledgeable attorney must sort through the evidence to build a compelling compensation claim. At Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., we have the skills and resources to investigate the situation, determine liability, and pursue the damages you’re owed.
Our legal team can assist you by:
- Investigating the cause of the accident
- Determining who can be held liable
- Estimating the value of your claim
- Collecting evidence to build a compelling case
- Communications with insurers
- Negotiating a fair settlement
- Filing suit and going to trial if necessary
Losing a loved one is difficult, but you don’t have to face the aftermath alone. The legal team at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., can support you through each step in the legal process and demand the damages you deserve.
Contact a Skilled Athens Wrongful Death Attorney Today
At Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., we are proud to support family members struggling with the sudden loss of a loved one at another party’s hands. Contact our offices today to speak with an Athens wrongful death attorney about your case during a free consultation.