Wrongful Death Attorneys
Losing a loved one is always hard, but that is especially true when they died because of someone else's negligence, recklessness, or deliberate action. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else's negligence, you have every right to be angry and upset. But anger won't provide you with the justice and compensation that you deserve.
A wrongful death attorney in Alabama can hold those responsible for the death accountable. Wrongful death is the legal term describing a situation in which a person dies as a result of the negligence of another individual.
Alabama's wrongful death statute will not compensate surviving family members for the decedent's lost wages or pain and suffering. It may, however, ensure those whose conduct resulted in the death are punished financially.
Common Wrongful Death Causes
A wrongful death action is a civil claim against a third party whose negligence led to the person's demise. Common causes of wrongful death include:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Nursing home negligence
- Truck Accidents
- Defective products
- Workplace injuries
Most wrongful death cases arise from motor vehicle accidents. Thankfully, safety devices such as airbags, seatbelts, child safety seats, and motorcycle helmets are now standard for most vehicles. These safety devices protect vehicle occupants and save tens of thousands of lives each year.
Despite these safety improvements, there were 36,096 traffic deaths in the United States in 2019, including 930 traffic deaths in Alabama. Many of these deaths are caused by drunk driving accidents or tractor-trailer accidents.
Younger drivers are the most common group to be involved in fatal accidents. Drivers between 16 and 24 years old are involved in fatal crashes at almost twice the rate of older drivers. Wrongful deaths can also occur in nursing home negligence cases, medical malpractice, product liability, and premises liability.
What is the Legal Process for a wrongful death case?
The first step involves contacting an attorney to set up the estate of the victim in the county in which he or she resided. The personal representative of the estate, who is usually the next of kin, is appointed by the probate judge in the county where the estate is administered.
The personal representative chooses the law firm bringing the lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits are filed in the county in which the death occurred, not where the decedent lived. The case is litigated with written discovery and depositions. The lawyers for the victim's family will both likely retain expert witnesses to prove the case. The defendant’s lawyers and insurance company may also hire expert witnesses to help defend the lawsuit.
As the case is prepared for trial, the lawyer for the victim's family and the defendant's lawyers are engaged in settlement negotiations. Frequently, these cases settle at mediation after discovery is complete but before the case goes to a jury trial.
The proceeds of the settlement or judgment are divided between all the heirs of the estate directly. Unlike other states, such proceeds are not considered part of the estate in Alabama. The proceeds are usually not taxed as income for the heirs of the estate.
Frequently Asked Questions
Under the Alabama wrongful death statute, only family members may bring a wrongful death lawsuit. A surviving spouse is normally selected as the personal representative of the estate. If the decedent is unmarried, any adult children may file a petition to be appointed as personal representative of the estate. If there are no children, the decedent’s parents may file a petition to be appointed personal representative of the estate. Eligibility continues down the kinship line as per Alabama’s laws of intestate succession.
Unlike most other states, Alabama does not award economic damages in wrongful death cases. In Alabama, only punitive damages are recoverable. Punitive means punish. Such damages are intended to punish wrongful conduct and deter similar conduct in the future. Also, unlike other states, any money obtained as a result of the wrongful death case is not considered part of the estate, so the victim’s creditors cannot claim wrongful death benefits.
The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama is two years from the date of death. However, there are exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations. For example, claims against a city must be made within six months. Claims against a county must be made within one year.
How Warren & Simpson Can Help
In Alabama, when someone is killed due to the negligence or fault of another, the victim's family has a claim for wrongful death. At Warren & Simpson, P.C., we have successfully handled a wide range of wrongful death claims, including trucking accidents, car wrecks, motorcycle accidents, plant explosions, and defective products.
At Warren & Simpson, our compassionate attorneys have extensive experience with wrongful death cases. We have the resources to commit the time and money necessary to pursue the case fully. Wrongful death cases should rarely be settled quickly. The lawyer should leave no possible stone unturned to recover a settlement or judgment for the estate.
At this difficult time, it is critical to contact a wrongful death attorney in Alabama as soon as possible. At Warren & Simpson, investigations into such cases start at once. Time is of the essence so that valuable evidence is not lost. Call or text us 24/7 at 256-539-7575 or complete our online form to arrange a free consultation.