Unexpectedly losing a beloved family member is something we all wish that no one would ever have to go through. If your loved one’s death happened in a preventable accident caused by someone else’s negligence (comparative or contributory), the tragedy can be even more painful and difficult to cope with.
Our hearts go out to you and your family if someone you love died due to the wrongful actions or inaction of someone else. At Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., our Alabama wrongful death attorneys have handled many of these tragic cases since our firm’s founding in 1966. We understand the toll these tragedies take on grieving families. That is why we fight so hard to get justice for them and the ones they’ve lost.
If a close relative died in an accident that wasn’t their fault, you may be overwhelmed and unsure of how to get answers and justice for them. Our Alabama personal injury lawyers will be there to guide you through the process and provide compassionate legal counsel each step of the way.
We want to hear from you, so call us or reach out to us online today.
What Is an Alabama Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death occurs when someone’s negligence (or misconduct causes the death of an individual. Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits – completely separate from any criminal charges – and are brought on behalf of the deceased person’s estate.
Wrongful death claims can be related to a wide range of accidents, including:
- Premises liability
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
Because wrongful death cases are handled in civil court, a lawsuit may be filed even if the liable parties are not facing criminal charges. Civil cases are completely separate from criminal cases, and there is a lower burden of proof in civil cases. A wrongful death lawsuit can also be filed if the defendant has been acquitted in criminal court of the wrongful act that led to the death.
Alabama’s wrongful death laws are unlike most other states. Our wrongful death laws are intended solely to punish the wrongdoer, not necessarily to compensate the family for their loss. Therefore, there are no compensatory damages for wrongful death in the state, only punitive damages. Alabama law determines how wrongful death damages are distributed to family members, and laws regarding these distributions can be complicated. Our wrongful death lawyers can help you both to file the wrongful death claim and to distribute the money recovered among family members.
Family members who receive damages from the claim are allowed to use the money to cover funeral, burial, and any other costs associated with the death, or for any purpose they wish. Also, any recovery for an Alabama wrongful death claim is not subject to the debts of the deceased person’s estate or to state or federal taxes.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Alabama?
In many states, the surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, in Alabama, only the personal representative of the estate can file such a claim for a deceased adult individual. In those cases, a family member cannot bring a claim unless they are also the estate representative. If the death involves a child who is a legal minor under the age of 19, then the custodial parent can bring the lawsuit in their own name.
The estate representative is appointed by the courts or may be named as executor in the will. When there is not a will, a family member has priority for 40 days after the victim’s death to petition to be the administrator or executor of the estate. After that time, the court may appoint any qualified person to the position, regardless of whether or not they are family members.
Alabama has a statute of limitations on wrongful death claims, which means there is a time limit for filing a lawsuit. In Alabama, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the death. After the two years have elapsed, you will be barred from filing.
What Types of Wrongful Death Compensation May Be Available in the State of Alabama?
Because the purpose of Alabama’s wrongful death laws is to punish wrongdoers and deter future misconduct, punitive damages are the only type of damages that are available. Under Alabama law, the jury may award punitive damages in an amount it deems to be fair.
However, the jury may not consider the value of the deceased person’s life or the need to compensate the decedent’s family. The jury is allowed to consider only the severity of the wrongdoing and the extent to which the wrongdoer should be punished when determining the damage amount.
Due to the complexity of Alabama’s wrongful death laws, it’s essential to consult with an experienced wrongful death lawyer before seeking damages. A skilled lawyer can advise you about the merits of your wrongful death claim and build a case that has the best chance of success.
When to Contact a Lawyer About a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Because the time to file a claim is limited, you should contact a wrongful death lawyer right away. Alabama sets a two-year filing deadline on wrongful death cases, so time is of the essence. Hiring a wrongful death attorney can help ensure your family’s rights will be protected.
Your Alabama personal injury lawyer will investigate the accident, gather vital evidence, and build the strongest case possible. Punitive damages are very complex because they are based on the jury’s determination of the degree of wrongfulness of the defendant’s conduct. Proving the defendant’s actions and securing punitive damages can be challenging, so be sure to hire a lawyer who has the right skill, experience, and resources to hold the responsible party accountable.
Free Consultation from our Alabama Wrongful Death Attorney
At Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., our wrongful death lawyers provide understanding and knowledgeable legal representation to people across Alabama. Our wrongful death lawyers and staff are here to support families who have lost loved ones unexpectedly due to someone else’s wrongdoing. We want to hear your story.
Our goal is to give your family peace of mind in knowing that justice was served. We want to help you as we have helped so many other clients throughout Alabama. Contact our lawyers by phone or complete our online contact form now. Our consultations are free, and you won’t pay us anything unless and until we secure compensation for you.
Wrongful Death Attorney Alabama: Get Help Now
From our office in Huntsville, Alabama, Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., handles wrongful death cases in counties and cities throughout Alabama, including Albertville, Athens, Decatur, Florence, and Scottsboro. If you think that an accident attorney can help you or your loved one as we have helped so many other Alabamians, please call our experienced attorneys for a courtesy consultation. Call (256) 410-8920, toll free 1-888-445-5585 or complete our quick contact web form. You may be entitled to benefits of which you are unaware. The wrongful death lawyers at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., can help you or a loved one.