Wrongful Death Law

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.  While no amount of money will ever fully compensate for a family’s loss, the attorneys at the Nomberg Law Firm seek compensation so rightfully deserved for enduring the loss of a loved one.

When these lawsuits occur, the surviving family or heirs are entitled to compensation as a result of the negligence of the other party, but they must file the lawsuit in the name of the decedent’s estate.  This means that the victim’s personal representatives may file a wrongful death claim in the name of the victim after his death, but they must do so in his name.  After an award is won, the award 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 victim’s heirs without it being subject to the payment of debts or liabilities of the decedent.  Therefore, only the estate’s administrator may bring a suit for wrongful death, but the award will pass to the victim’s heirs according to his or her wishes without penalty from the debts or liabilities the victim might have against the estate.

Another point of interest in Alabama’s wrongful death statute is unique in that it only allows punitive damages.  This award system is different from most other states which allow for a calculation of damages that include compensatory damages for both economic and non-economic damages.  Furthermore, punitive damages are usually taxable as personal income, but as an exception to this rule, punitive damages awarded under Alabama’s wrongful death statute are immune from being included in the recipient’s taxable gross income.

The state of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is generally two years from the time of the death of the decedent.  If the case includes a claim against a city or county then a notice of claim also has to be filed prior to filing the suit.  In these cases, a city must be sent a notice of claim within six months of the incident that gave rise to the death of the victim.  A county must be sent the same notice within one year of the incident giving rise to the suit.  Thus, it is critical that you contact legal counsel as soon as possible so that the process may be completed in a timely and thorough manner.

Wrongful death cases can occur due to automobile accidents, tractor trailer accidents, drunk driving accidents, nursing home abuse, railroad collisions, medical malpractice and faulty products.   If you have any questions about wrongful death, please call the attorneys at the Nomberg Law Firm (205) 769-4824.

Bernard and co-counsel recently settled a death case involving a long-term resident of a home health facility. Our client’s brother had suffered from various mental defects during his life and lived in this facility for more than a decade. Sadly he was left unattended one afternoon and ultimately died at the facility. The legal claims were that the healthcare facility failed to properly monitor and care for our client. We recently resolved the case for a very nice six-figure settlement for the family. This claim originated in Madison County.

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