A person may consider filing a wrongful death suit after losing a loved one. When someone’s negligence results in another’s death instead of natural causes, the family may have the right to claim damages.
However, a mistake when filing the claim can create additional issues. Alabama residents should understand the legalities around such claims.
The statute of limitations
All personal injury cases leave a limited time for injured parties to act. For wrongful death claims, the filing must occur within two years of the death. Evidence is at the core of any case, so delaying unnecessarily can harm a claim.
Families and representatives of decedents must also remember that if the action is against a city government, the time reduces to six months. For a case against the county government, the period is 12 months. If the decedent was a minor child, parents have six months to sue before that right transfers to a personal representative.
In some cases, the start date may delay beyond the date of death because law enforcement cannot identify the responsible party. In other circumstances, a doctor cannot immediately determine the cause of death, as an autopsy can take up to six weeks. These situations may toll the statute for up to an additional six months.
The available compensation
Alabama courts assess punitive damages correlating to the defendant’s wrongful actions and award that to the family. The court does not consider economic injuries, such as lost inheritance or income. Since proving noneconomic damages can be complex, plaintiffs might struggle with this element of a claim.
Alabama has other guidelines regarding the personal representative who can file the claim and which acts classify as wrongful or negligent. Reviewing these stipulations can also assist a family in taking appropriate steps.