When you lose a relative because of another individual’s carelessness, recklessness, or intentional misconduct, you may want justice and compensation. You can learn about your options for obtaining these by calling the Alabama wrongful death lawyers of Belt & Bruner, P.C. at 205-933-1500. We offer free case evaluations to review your situation and determine whether you or your loved one’s estate can move forward with a survival action or wrongful death claim.
When you lose a loved one because of an accident, your first thought may not be about the law or suing someone. Your immediate thoughts are likely with your grief and your family. You face an unexpected future without your spouse, parent, child, or sibling. Now you have to put them to rest and figure out how to move forward.
Alabama Survival Actions
Alabama statute §6-5-462 states certain types of legal claims survive beyond an individual’s death, including:
- Any action that has been filed, or when no action has been filed, for an express or implied contract claim. If there is a contract dispute and either party passes away, the legal claim can move forward after the prospective plaintiff or defendant passes away. It does not matter when the plaintiff filed a complaint before their passing.
- A personal claim, except for injuries to reputation, which has already been filed. For an individual’s personal injury claim to survive beyond their death, they must have filed before their passing.
- All personal claims upon which actions have not been filed against the personal representative of the deceased at-fault party. A living individual’s personal injury claim survives the defendant’s death. That individual can see the decedent’s estate.
When a Claim Does Not Survive
There is a very important type of claim that does not survive. A personal injury claim that is not brought before the injured individual passes away does not survive. If you have a loved one who was injured in an accident and then died days, weeks, or months later as a result of the accident, you cannot bring a personal injury claim on their behalf unless it was filed prior to their death.
This can be a difficult realization for families to cope with. It is often viewed as a large hole in Alabama’s survival action law. However, you and your family are not necessarily left without a remedy. Your loved one’s estate may have the right to move forward with a wrongful death claim. While this action may not be the justice you hoped for, it can be financially helpful.
Who Can Bring a Survival Action?
If a claim survives, it is for the benefit of the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. If you believe your loved one had a legal claim that survived their death, contact us right away. As a spouse, parent, or child, you may not have the right to file or proceed with the claim. However, your loved one’s personal representative may be able to.
Survival Action Compensation
When your loved one’s estate files or moves forward with a previously filed claim, the personal representative will pursue the compensation your loved one would have asked for themselves. The damages will not be based on what the estate lost. They are based on the decedent’s physical, psychological, and financial injuries.
In a surviving personal injury claim, the personal representative may seek compensation for the decedent’s:
- Property losses
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages
How Survival Actions Differ From Wrongful Death Claims
Survival actions should not be confused with wrongful death claims. A survival action is a cause of action or already filed legal claim that continues despite a party’s death. It is an action or cause of action that does not end because someone passes away. A wrongful death claim is a cause of action for the estate or family member’s loss – not the injured party. It is a claim that arises upon the individual’s death, not upon the date of their injury.
When an estate brings a wrongful death claim, Alabama law entitles it to seek punitive damages, not compensatory damages. While most states allow an estate to ask for compensation for medical expenses, burial expenses, and other financial losses, Alabama only entitles an estate to damages that are meant to punish the at-fault party. This can make Alabama wrongful death claims difficult. However, if your loved one’s estate took on a significant financial burden, the punitive damages can be essential to lightening the financial load.
How the Alabama Wrongful Death Lawyers of Belt & Bruner, P.C. Can Help
After losing a loved one because of another person’s negligence or recklessness, you should speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Alabama at Belt & Bruner, P.C. We have decades of collective experience in moving forward with survival actions and wrongful death claims.
We are here to review your situation, the decedent’s accident and injuries, and then offer advice on your rights and legal options. We will use all of the resources at our disposal to determine not only the possible but the best course of action for you, your family, and your loved one’s estate.
Contact our Alabama law firm today at 205-933-1500 to schedule a free initial consultation. With offices in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, and Montgomery, our attorneys will quickly travel anywhere in the state of Alabama to investigate your case.