Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Wrongful Death
The wrongful death attorneys at Jinks, Crow & Dickson have been helping people throughout the states of Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana who have lost a loved one through the negligence or wrongful conduct of another person or company. Our lawyers have represented clients in successfully seeking recovery for the wrongful death of a loved one. If you have lost a family member or loved one due to the negligence or wrongful conduct of someone else or a company, read these frequently asked questions regarding wrongful death claims below, and then, contact us today.
1. What is a wrongful death lawsuit, and what does wrongful death mean?
Anytime someone’s death is caused by the acts or omissions of someone else, there is the possibility of a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. They can occur as the result of car accidents, truck accidents, ATV accidents, farming accidents, workplace accidents (although these can be complicated), medical malpractice, nursing homes abuse and neglect, dram shop violations, pharmaceuticals, defective products, fires, chemical exposure, and any number of other incidents, negligence or personal injury.
2. Can you sue for wrongful death, and who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
A wrongful death action must be brought by a survivor who has some legal authority to do so. In Alabama, it can be by a parent if the deceased was a minor or by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. You don’t have to worry about setting up the estate, we can handle that for you. In other states, you may not have to set up an estate to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
3. What are wrongful death damages?
Unlike most other states, in Alabama, wrongful death actions do not allow compensatory damages unless it is for dram shop liability. The only damages available for most wrongful death cases are punitive damages – damages to punish the person who caused the death. These damages are not capped by Alabama law. In other states, compensatory damages can be recovered for wrongful death. These may include damages for loss of the value of the services someone brought into your home and loss of the income they may have made. Punitive damages are available in addition to compensatory damages in other states.
4. Can a wrongful death lawsuit be brought for the death of a child?
A wrongful death action may be brought as a result of a child’s death, provided that legal liability can be established.
5. How are wrongful death settlements paid out?
Though the personal representative of the deceased’s estate is generally the proper party to pursue a wrongful death claim in Alabama, the proceeds or damages of that action are not part of the deceased’s estate. The proceeds are distributed to the deceased’s surviving family members as prescribed by Alabama law. Your wrongful death lawyer should be able to handle everything that needs to be done in probate and the distribution of funds.
6. When must a wrongful death action be filed?
A wrongful death action must be filed within two years of the death.
7. How much is paid for a wrongful death claim in Alabama?
The punitive damages recoverable in a wrongful death action in Alabama depend on a number of factors such as how and where the acts or omissions that caused the death occurred, the circumstances surrounding the death, and the nature of the conduct which led to the death. The totality of the circumstances has a major impact on the value of a wrongful death claim. We are experienced in handling such claims and can give you a better idea once we learn all the facts.
8. Is an autopsy necessary for a wrongful death claim?
Whether an autopsy is necessary for a wrongful death claim depends on what caused or contributed to the death. Sometimes an autopsy can help verify a cause of death or can provide evidence of a cause that was not known or suspected. If the wrongful death happened because of a defective product, an autopsy can prove that, if the product had been manufactured properly, it would protect the person that was killed. In other cases, the autopsy may or may not provide any additional supporting evidence. It’s best to speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer who can help you make the decision about whether an autopsy should be performed.
9. Is it necessary that the deceased file suit before his or her death?
Obviously, many times the deceased never has a chance to file a lawsuit before his or her death. In that case, a wrongful death lawsuit or claim can still be brought by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate if the wrongful conduct at issue caused the death of the person. If the deceased brought a lawsuit before his or her death for the injuries and damages sustained as a result of the acts or omissions which later led to his or her death, that action can usually be continued and a separate wrongful death action can also be brought. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help answer this question depending on the facts of your particular case.
10. Can a wrongful death claim be made for a death caused by COVID?
Whether a wrongful death claim can be made for a death caused by COVID depends on the facts and circumstances of contracting the virus, the treatment of it, and the resulting death. For example, the wrongful death may have been caused by malpractice, not just COVID. These cases are quite complex and require a thorough analysis. If you believe that COVID played a role in a loved one’s death, please feel free to reach out to one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys.