Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Dothan?
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit brought against a negligent person or company, which claims that the defendant caused the death of a loved one.
Section 6-5-410 of the Alabama Revised Statutes outlines your rights under the Wrongful Death Act. According to Alabama law, the decedent’s personal representative is allowed to file the action.
In many states, family members can directly bring a lawsuit and recover compensation. In those states, this is regarded as a separate claim from the estate’s claim. In Alabama, however, the estate must bring an action for wrongful death. Therefore, whoever is named the personal representative under a will is the appropriate person to bring the lawsuit. If there is no will, then a probate estate will need to be opened and a relative named as representative.
Who Is Entitled to Recover Compensation for Wrongful Death In Dothan?
In Alabama, not only does the decedent’s estate have to bring the action, but only the estate can recover compensation. Therefore, any money recovered will pass through that estate to the heirs. If there is a will, it will state who is allowed to receive compensation and in what proportions. If there is no will, the Alabama intestate laws will determine which relatives can recover.
Because a wrongful death action involves both a civil action and a related probate action, it’s important to hire an attorney who has experience with both.
Compensation Available for a Wrongful Death in Dothan
Some people get confused about why there would be compensation in a wrongful death case. After all, a deceased person cannot be helped. No amount of money can help the family bring back a loved one. As many clients have said over the years, “what’s done is done.”
But this is shortsighted. It ignores the realities that families suffer after an unexpected loss. For instance, here are just some of the ways that families may suffer after losing a loved one:
- High Medical Bills. When a person is involved in a fatal crash or suffers a deadly fall or workplace injury, there will most likely be medical bills. People rarely “die on impact.” In most cases, there is a serious injury that allows the person to suffer for days or weeks, racking up enormous bills before death. Hospital bills, surgeries, ambulance bills, and other costs can be so high they leave a spouse to consider bankruptcy. This is simply wrong.
- Funeral and Burial Costs. Anyone who has had to bury a loved one knows just how expensive funerals are. Between grave openings and closings, a funeral service, and even a modest casket, a burial service can end up costing tens of thousands.
- Lost Support and Income. If the decedent is the breadwinner, just imagine losing a family’s entire income all at once without warning. Even if the spouse and children are well educated, have solid savings, and are living below their means, an unexpected death can result in a life-changing situation. A spouse who used to stay at home with young children may be forced to scramble to find work, pay for daycare, and struggle to pay bills. If the decedent was a homemaker, it can mean the surviving spouse being forced to hire housekeepers, nannies, daycares, and other services to make up for the loss of the help.
- Loss of Emotional Support. Of course, there’s also the intangible fact that you just lost someone you may have shared much of your life with. If it is a child, parent, spouse, or some other close member of the family, the loss will change you forever.
- Other Unanticipated Consequences. Finally, there are countless other losses. For example, the decedent may have carried the family’s health insurance, which means health costs may skyrocket for the surviving family. The decedent may have been receiving disability income or veteran’s compensation or a pension. These may be drastically reduced or go away entirely when the person dies. The decedent may have been the one to prepare regular meals or may have been skilled at maintaining and repairing vehicles. Now the family must face these day-to-day events without the help of the decedent.
Ultimately, a wrongful death is a generational loss of wisdom, love, and affection. It strips an entire family of a legacy. While no amount of money can replace the person, a financial award in a wrongful death case can help to replace the lost income and cover many of the unfair and unexpected costs.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Claims We Handle
There are countless ways that a negligent person or company can cause someone’s death. Some of the most common types of cases we see are:
- Fatal car accidents
- Fatal motorcycle accidents
- Fatal truck crashes
- Workplace injuries
- Construction site accidents
- Falls and property injuries
- Defective products and medical devices
- Industrial site injuries
- Animal attacks
Whether your loved one died in a crash, at work, or from an injury on someone’s property, we want to help. At Gartlan Injury Law, you are more than just a client. You are the very reason we do what we do. We consider it an honor to represent people who have suffered the most serious and catastrophic of injuries. We know that it can be stressful, exhausting and painful to pursue justice. We want our clients to know that we will be beside them all the way.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Alabama?
Alabama law strictly limits how long you can wait to pursue justice. In fact, you only get 2 years from the date of death to bring a lawsuit. But a lot has to happen in order to get a case ready for litigation. Therefore, it is wise to hire an attorney as early as possible, so that an investigation can begin. Consider the steps an attorney must go through in order to prepare a case for filing a lawsuit.
- Gather information and evidence
- Hire consulting experts if necessary
- Establish a probate estate
- Notify all legal heirs of the estate
These are just a few of the big steps that go into pursuing a case. Plus, there are specific times when you may have less time than you would normally have. This is especially true in cases where an injury lingered for months or even years before claiming a loved one’s life. Your chances will generally be better the sooner you get legal representation.