What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If an individual dies as a result of someone else’s misconduct or negligence, the surviving family can sue for wrongful death and pursue damages.
When Can I Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits result after an individual’s death, which was a consequence of a wrongful act, omission, or the negligence of a company or another person. However, these lawsuits are only able to be filed in Alabama if the deceased individual would have recovered compensation for their injuries from the defendant had they lived.
What Do I Have to Prove in an Alabama Wrongful Death Claim?
In Alabama, damages are not automatically awarded after a negligence-related death. In fact, in order to succeed in a wrongful death claim, the following elements need to be established:
- Duty of Care: The plaintiff needs to show that the defendant owed the deceased a duty of care at the time of their loved one’s death.
- Breach: The plaintiff must show that the defendant defied this duty of care, through a specific act or misconduct that was negligent, or willful with an intent to harm.
- Causation: The plaintiff must show there was a proximate cause between the defendant’s neglect of this duty and the plaintiff’s death, often established by any connection between the irresponsible violation and the resulting death.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Even though each wrongful death lawsuit is unique, there are several common situations which often lead to a lawsuit. These circumstances include:
- Medical malpractice accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Car accidents
- Trucking accidents
- Swimming pool accidents
- Defective products
- Motorcycle / pedestrian / bike accidents
- Slip and fall accidents and other premises liability incidences
Who can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Alabama?
Under Alabama law, outlined in the Alabama Code section 6-5-410, any corporation or person is liable for the death of another when caused by a “wrongful act, omission, or negligence.” Unlike other states, Alabama does not allow the family of the deceased to directly pursue a wrongful death claim. Instead, only a personal representative, an executor, of the deceased’s estate can bring a wrongful death claim.
Alabama law allows a family member to be appointed as the executor of the estate, as long as the representative is at least 19 years of age, never convicted of an “infamous crime” and is competent to serve in this role.
Alabama Wrongful Death Damages
Another unique aspect of Alabama’s wrongful death lawsuit is the damages awarded in these cases. Many other states allow the survivors to recover monetary damages, like lost income, and non-monetary damages, like loss of companionship. However, in Alabama, the purpose of the lawsuit is to punish the defendant and prevent future instances of this act from reoccurring. As a result, only burial costs and punitive damages can be recovered. When determining the amount awarded for punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit, the jury cannot take into account the “value” of the deceased’s life or the need to compensate their family. Rather, they are only allowed to consider the defendant’s wrongful act and the necessity of punishing them, and the importance of making sure the punitive damages are large enough to prevent this tragedy from happening to other people in the future.
As the damages recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit are not included in the deceased’s estate, they are not distributed to family members based on the will of the departed, but rather based on Alabama intestacy laws (as if the deceased did not leave a will). Therefore, it is possible for family members who are not part of the deceased’s will to receive damages obtained in a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama.
Alabama Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
There are strict time limits for bringing wrongful death lawsuits in Alabama. Under Alabama law, the deceased individual’s estate must file a wrongful death claim within two years after the death. However, if this lawsuit is against a city or county, specific timelines for notice of claim must be submitted ahead of time. Speaking with a knowledgeable Alabama wrongful death attorney can ensure you meet these critical deadlines.
To be connected with a trusted and skilled wrongful death attorney in Alabama, contact The Law Center at 205-649-7140 or fill out the form below.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim if Criminal Charges are also Brought?
Even though the defendant may also face criminal charges for their actions, the outcome of those charges does not affect one’s right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama. Bringing a wrongful death claim is a civil suit that actually requires a lowered burden of proof than is needed in a criminal case.
Hiring Leading Alabama Wrongful Death Lawyers
Wrongful death lawsuits in Alabama are complicated and can be overwhelming to navigate. A successful claim is mostly dependent on providing credible and convincing evidence to the court. To ensure you present a strong case which will persuade a jury to rule in your favor, you need an experienced and skilled Alabama wrongful death lawyer on your side. These specialized attorneys will use their extensive expertise and knowledge to investigate, research, and provide the most reliable supporting evidence to prove that the defendant neglected their specific duty of care and the deceased’s estate is therefore deserving of damages.
How The Law Center Can Help
Turnbull Law Firm
The legal team at Turnbull Law Firm has one priority: to ensure their clients’ rights are protected. The leading attorneys at Turnbull Law Firm understand that the individuals who seek their help are often dealing with devastating injuries or trauma and can feel helpless and alone. Their distinguished and expert attorneys are ready to help victims in their fight to regain normalcy, whether it’s through taking on wrongful death claims, or ensuring their clients are not being taken advantage of by big corporations and insurance companies.
The Law Center
When pursuing a lawsuit, finding the right attorney is half the battle. The Law Center exists to do this for you. We aim to connect the families of those who were killed by the negligence of another with a trusted, compassionate, and accomplished local legal team. From our national network of premier legal professionals, these top-tier attorneys are uniquely qualified to seek justice and obtain damages on their clients’ behalf. Connect with a top Alabama wrongful death attorney who will fight to protect and defend your legal rights by calling 205-649-7140 or filling out the form below.