Losing a loved one is already painful for anyone, but it can sometimes be even more so when someone else’s mistakes caused it. If a person or business here in Bessemer is at fault, you could take legal action and have them pay for their wrongdoing.
But before you start, you could consult with a Bessemer wrongful death lawyer first. They can advise you on your requirements and how to proceed with your case. Here we discuss the different relevant laws and how they can affect your recovery.
Who Can File for a Bessemer Wrongful Death Settlement?
Under Alabama Code § 6-5-410, the decedent’s personal representative is the only party allowed to file a wrongful death case in Bessemer. The personal representative is an individual appointed in the deceased’s will to carry out its instructions. They may not necessarily be directly related to the decedent.
If there is no will, a family member can file a petition to the court to get appointed as a representative. Otherwise, the court will appoint one themselves.
If the Deceased Was Still a Minor
However, the law does give some leeway if a minor is killed. Alabama Code § 6-5-391 states that a decedent child’s parents can file the wrongful death case within six months. If only one parent had legal custody of the child, the court would prioritize their claim over the other parent. But if there are no surviving parents or neither of them file any action, the court would appoint a personal representative.
In any case, our lawyers can work with the personal representative form and present a lawsuit in court. They can also counsel the plaintiff on what to say and do during the proceedings.
For a free legal consultation with a Personal Injury lawyer serving Bessemer, call 877-562-0000
How to Determine Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case
Your lawyer can help investigate the incident for evidence. You will typically need to prove that the other party acted negligently when your loved one died. For example, if the decedent passed in a pedestrian accident, your lawyer could secure the accident report to learn more about how the accident occurred.
Besides negligence-based actions, you could also file a wrongful death case if the liable party willfully harmed your loved one—even if the other party did not intend to kill. For instance, the at-fault person might have shot the loved one during a robbery. In such cases, you would need to show that the defendant’s specific actions led to your loved one’s death.
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Possible Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death Suit
In other states, a successful wrongful death case would let you recover from the financial losses accrued by your loved one’s passing. These would typically include funeral expenses and any hospital bills. You would also get compensated for pain and suffering damages like loss of consortium.
But in Alabama, you can also recover punitive damages. Instead of making the at-fault party repay you for the actual cost of the death, punitive damages punish the defendant for their wrongdoing. It also serves to deter others from making the same deadly mistakes.
Besides punitive damages, you could also file for a property damage settlement if the deceased’s property was damaged in the accident. For instance, you could get compensated for auto repairs in a car accident case.
Who Receives the Wrongful Death Damages?
In estate claims, the deceased’s estate gets distributed amongst the beneficiaries specified in the will. That is not the case with wrongful death damages, which are separate from the estate. In a Bessemer wrongful death settlement, the amount goes to the deceased’s heirs—regardless of whether they were included in the will or not.
Under Alabama’s intestate laws, the order of the heirs is as follows:
- The surviving spouse and children are prioritized first.
- If the deceased has no surviving spouse or children but still has living parents, the damages will go to them.
- If they have no surviving spouse, children, or parents but still have surviving siblings, the siblings receive the settlement amount.
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Consider the Statute of Limitations for Alabama Wrongful Death Cases
The statute of limitations is one of the crucial filing requirements you need to comply with to prevent getting your case dismissed in court. According to Alabama Code § 6-5-410, you only have two years to file a wrongful death case.
You can reach out to your Bessemer wrongful death lawyer early on after your loved one’s passing. This way, you can start working on the case as soon as possible. They can watch over the lawsuit’s progress and help finish the involved tasks so you can file on time.
Tolling Exceptions Can Extend Your Deadline
Your lawyer can help determine the relevant timeline by checking for possible tolling exceptions. Depending on the situation surrounding your loved one’s death, these special circumstances can shift your filing deadline.
For example, suppose that the negligent person tried to escape their crimes by fleeing from Alabama. Should this happen, the statute of limitations would only resume its countdown when they return.
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Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Are Ready to Help
While a loved one’s death is usually difficult to deal with, you can still find justice and closure after their loss here in Bessemer. You can take the first step towards wrongful death compensation by consulting with Cory Watson Attorneys. Our lawyers can help you further understand the relevant laws in your case and provide legal representation whenever needed.
Our legal staff has handled injury cases around Alabama for over 38 years. You can benefit from our decades of legal experience and knowledge. You can always contact us by phone if you have legal questions or issues. A free case evaluation is also available to ask questions about options and learn about estates, personal representatives, and wrongful death claims.