Although fatal accidents are devastating, they don’t always qualify as wrongful death.
Wrongful death claims arise when a victim is killed as a result of negligence on the part of another individual or entity.
Alabama Code §6-5-410 states that a wrongful death claim is brought when someone is killed as a result of another’s negligence, wantonness or wrongful conduct. Every citizen has some duty of care to keep others safe.
The driver should act responsibly and follow posted signs to avoid accidents on the road. Retail store managers are responsible for maintaining clear aisles so that customers don’t trip over obstacles. Product manufacturers must provide quality control measures to ensure that their items are safe for consumers to use.
In neglecting their duty of care, companies and individuals can be held liable for the death of others, and the families of the deceased may be entitled to compensation for their loss.
When someone else’s actions result in the death of your family member, you have the right to seek financial compensation. While no amount of money will ever fully compensate for a family’s loss, the personal injury attorneys at the Nomberg Law Firm will seek compensation that you rightfully deserve.
Meet Your Wrongful Death Attorney, Bernard D. Nomberg
As a wrongful death lawyer with many years of experience working with family members, I saw how tragic and painful it was for my clients. Losing a family member can completely shut you down–especially if it was unexpected.
When my clients come to me in such desperate situations, they want justice. They want the person who injured their loved one to be held responsible for the accident. And they want financial compensation for their loss.
If a person you love has been killed due to reckless or negligent actions, don’t hesitate to give me a call.
For families who have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to seek financial compensation for your loss.
What is the Alabama statute of limitations for wrongful death?
In general, you have two years from the date of the victim’s death to file wrongful death claims.
However, the statute of limitations varies depending on the defendant. If the claim is against a city or county, the plaintiff must file a notice of the claim within six months. A county must be sent the same notice within one year of the incident giving rise to the suit. Thus, you must contact legal counsel as soon as possible to complete the process in a timely and thorough manner.
If the victim is in critical condition and survives, you won’t be able to file a wrongful death claim. However, your loved one may be eligible for personal injury compensation. On the other hand, if you file a personal injury claim and the plaintiff dies, you might continue the personal injury lawsuit and open a wrongful death claim.
Common accidents that can result in wrongful death include:
- Nursing home abuse
- Defective products
- Pedestrian accidents
- Railroad collisions
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Who can file a wrongful death claim in Alabama?
Fatal accidents often leave the victim’s spouse, siblings, or children wondering whether they can seek financial retribution.
In Alabama, only the estate’s administrator can file a wrongful death claim. The administrator might be a spouse, sibling, or child. If the deceased has not appointed an administrator in their will, a representative will be designated by the probate court.
The estate’s administrator files in the victim’s name and is considered the plaintiff. The defendant is the individual or entity that is allegedly responsible for the death. Although the administrator is responsible for filing the suit, the award will be distributed according to Alabama inheritance laws.
After an award is won, it will pass outside of the estate to the victim’s heirs. This allows for any damages recovered under a wrongful death claim to pass to the heirs without it being subject to the payment of debts or liabilities of the decedent. The heirs may use the money as they wish. They are not required to use it to pay off the decedent’s debts or liabilities. Furthermore, the settlement is tax-exempt.
What are punitive damages?
Punitive damages, meant to punish rather than to compensate, are rarely available in personal injury cases. But, when the defendant’s behavior is extreme or intentional, such damages may be available.
In Alabama, only punitive damages are awarded. In other words, the settlement is not based on accident-related financial losses or pain and suffering. This award system is different from most other states, which allow for a calculation of damages that include compensatory damages for economic and non-economic damages.
The punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant and discourage negligent behavior in the future.
How is negligence proven in a wrongful death case?
Duty of care depends on the victim’s relationship with the defendant. It’s important to hire a personal injury attorney experienced with wrongful death claims.
The attorney will need to prove that the defendant had a duty of care toward the victim. A wrongful death attorney must also demonstrate that the defendant breached their duty of care through negligence or inaction and that the breach directly resulted in the fatality.
Enjuris Guide to Wrongful Death Claims
For example, wrongful death claims related to car accidents must show that another driver neglected to follow their duty of care by:
- Reckless driving
- Driving while intoxicated
- Driving while distracted
The defendant can be an individual, group or organization. An auto mechanic who made a mistake while servicing the car before the accident could be liable. So could the manufacturer of a faulty part.
What evidence do you need?
If a loved one has died in an accident, you should record, document, and save as much related evidence as you can. Even if you’re unsure whether something is important, keep it until you hire an attorney to advise you further.
Some types of evidence that are admissible under wrongful death law include:
- Police reports
- Photos and video recordings
- Testimony from eyewitnesses
- Medical records
- Testimony from experts
Why you should hire our Alabama wrongful death attorney
When an unexpected death occurs, you may not know where to start picking up the pieces. Filing a wrongful death claim can help you get justice and financial assistance during this difficult time.
But wrongful death claims are complex. Proving negligence can be tricky. If you have any questions about wrongful death, don’t hesitate to contact the attorneys at the Nomberg Law Firm.
Lean on our experience to win your case
Bernard and co-counsel recently settled a wrongful death claim that originated in Madison County. Our client’s sibling had died in a home health facility—the legal claims involved failure to properly monitor and care for the victim. The case resulted in a six-figure settlement for the family.