The damages that you can recover in a wrongful death statute vary from state to state or jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Here in Alabama, we have what’s called a punitive damages wrongful death statute. What that means is that you can only recover for damages to punish the wrongdoer and to deter future conduct of that nature. In Alabama, unlike most states, you cannot recover what is known as compensatory damages.
Examples of compensatory damages are the following: pain and suffering of the deceased before he or she passed; and future lost wages of the deceased even if he or she was a high wage earner, such as a doctor or a lawyer. You cannot recover for those types of things under Alabama’s wrongful death statute.
Alabama’s wrongful death statute is purely punitive in nature. The only exception to that is if someone was injured in an accident and a personal injury lawsuit was filed before he or she passed. If that person later passed away because of that same accident, you are entitled to compensation for both compensatory and punitive damages.
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If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, it is crucial that you contact a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Generally speaking, you will have two years from the time of death to file your claim according to the Alabama statute of limitations. If the case involves a claim against a city or county, a notice of claim will have to be filed before you can file suit. Also, the person who can and should bring a wrongful death claim is the administrator of the decedent’s estate. A wrongful death attorney will need to get to work preserving evidence, investigating, and setting up an estate if there isn’t one already. Therefore, time is of the essence.
At Martinson & Beason, P.C. in Huntsville, Alabama, we handle our wrongful death and personal injury cases on a contingency basis. This means that you do not have to pay attorney’s fees unless we recover compensation for you. We also offer 100 percent free consultations for these types of cases, so you risk nothing by calling or setting up an appointment.