Do I Have a Wrongful Death Case?
Negligence can not only cause injuries but also lead to the tragic loss of life. A distracted driver that causes a deadly accident, a careless landlord who creates unsafe conditions, or an incompetent medical provider that makes a mistake during an operation are all examples of actions that can lead to catastrophe.
If a person’s death is caused by the negligence of someone else, you may be able to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. If you have lost a loved one and want to know whether you have a wrongful death case, there are several common guidelines for these claims.
What Happened and When Did It Happen?
Obviously, there must have been a loss of life to pursue a wrongful death case, but this is not the only element required for one of these claims in Alabama. You must also be able to show that another party’s negligence lead to the death of your loved one.
To prove negligence, you will need to show that someone else owed a duty of care to your loved one and that they breached that duty. For example, driver’s are required to use care and caution when behind the wheel, so driving while intoxicated is considered negligent behavior.
You must also prove that the defendant’s negligent or unlawful behavior led to your loved one’s death. Assuming a drunk driver crosses over the centerline and causes a deadly crash, this action was clearly the cause of the fatality.
How do you know if you have a wrongful death claim? These claims are applicable when someone you care about would have otherwise had a personal injury case but was killed due to the intentional or negligent acts of another party. Some of the common situations where these cases occur include:
- Car accident fatalities resulting from negligence
- Loss of life due to medical malpractice
- Death due to a defective product
- Death resulting from an unsafe premises
- Death that results from an intentional act
When the accident occurred is also a factor in whether or not you have a wrongful death case. Alabama has a statute of limitations for filing these lawsuits. According to state law, you have just two years from the date of death to file suit.
Who Can Seek Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim?
You may grieve deeply over the loss of someone you care about, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the legal right to sue the responsible party for wrongful death. Each state has its own laws listing who is able to file a wrongful death claim.
Alabama is unique in that family members are not permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Instead, the state limits these claims to the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. While this might be a family member, only the estate is allowed to sue for wrongful death in Alabama. Any damages awarded will be paid to the decedent’s heirs instead of the estate.
What Can Be Recovered?
Alabama is also unique in the way that it treats damages in wrongful death cases. While most states allow plaintiffs to sue for compensatory damages that cover such things as medical bills, funeral expenses, lost earning capacity, and other expenses, Alabama does not permit this.
The state of Alabama only allows a plaintiff in a wrongful death case to sue for punitive damages. The purpose of these types of damages it twofold. First, they are meant to punish the defendant for their wrongful behaviors. Second, they are supposed to act as a deterrent to similar negligent conduct by others.
Juries in Alabama wrongful death cases cannot consider the value of your loved one’s life when deciding on damages. They can only look at the wrongdoing of the defendant. Because of the sensitive nature of these cases, it’s advisable to speak with an experienced Alabama wrongful death attorney before seeking damages.
Consult an Alabama Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful death cases are not simple matters, and there are numerous steps involved in achieving a positive case outcome. At the Law Office of J. Allen Brown, L.L.C., we understand that you have suffered a significant loss and we can put our resources to work on your behalf.
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, our attorneys have specific experience in the unique wrongful death laws in Alabama. Contact our Mobile office now at 251.473.6691 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.