State Laws Addressing Claims
Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are subject to Alabama’s tort law. There is a two-year statute of limitations, meaning you must settle your claim with the negligent party’s insurer or file a lawsuit within two years of the date of injury or death. Of course, you should file a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance policy and against any applicable coverage on your own policy as soon as possible after the crash.
Alabama is also a contributory negligence state. This means that if you are found to be at fault in any way for the crash, you cannot pursue damages against the other driver.
Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death is defined by Alabama law as any death caused by the wrongful act, omission, or negligent actions of another person. To bring a wrongful death claim, one would need to have been eligible to file a personal injury claim against the other party had the decedent lived. If the decedent would have been held to the contributory negligence standard, a wrongful death claim would not be allowed.
In most states, families can recover special damages, such as medical and funeral expenses, and pain and suffering. In Alabama, wrongful death claims are eligible for punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the at-fault driver and to discourage negligent behavior.
In Alabama, a wrongful death claim must be made by a personal representative of the decedent’s estate rather than by a spouse, parent, or child. However, any recovery will be distributed among the decedent’s heirs rather than paid into the estate itself. The heirs are those family members who would inherit any assets from the estate if there is no will, subject to the laws of intestate succession. This means that any heir, even if they have not been named in the decedent’s will, would receive a portion of any wrongful death recovery.
Work with Experienced Car Accident Attorneys in Guntersville, Alabama
The first thing you need to remember when you have been injured by a negligent driver in a car accident is that their insurer will not want to compensate you for your damages. The insurer will attempt to prove contributory negligence on your part in an effort to discount your injuries and other damages. When you file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, it will be their insurance company’s attorneys who defend the case.
This is why it is so crucial that you have a personal injury attorney on your side who has the experience and tenacity to fight for you and your rights. You need an attorney who can investigate the circumstances of the crash, seek documentation of all of your injuries and medical treatment, keep an accurate record of all financial losses and other damages, and help you navigate the legal process of filing a claim.