If your family member died in a Lee County accident caused by another party, you may be able to get justice through a wrongful death action. An Auburn wrongful death attorney from the Morris Bart law firm can help you understand how these cases work and what steps you can take to recover compensation. We provide free consultations for those who lost a loved one in a negligence accident in Alabama.
We represent families and help them take legal action against at-fault parties. It can be difficult to hold them responsible under Alabama law, but our attorneys know how to handle these cases and give our clients the best opportunity to get justice for their families.
Understanding the Damages Available in an Alabama Wrongful Death Case
Alabama’s wrongful death law (Ala. Code § 6-5-410) only allows victims’ families to recover punitive damages. There are no compensatory damages available, meaning families cannot receive compensation for funeral and burial costs, lost income, loss of services, or other economic or non-economic damages. This is unusual, as most states rarely award punitive damages in personal injury or wrongful death cases.
Punitive damages are awarded by the court—often during a jury trial—based on an assessment of the negligent party’s wrongdoing. The worse their behavior, the larger the payout. These damages are meant to penalize the at-fault party and deter others from behaving the same way in the future. To this end, they can be significant.
However, a simple mistake or momentary carelessness may not support awarding punitive damages. An estate is much more likely to recover damages if it proves that a driver was drunk and ran a red light than if the driver simply made a mistake. Working with our team may make proving your case easier. This is not something you want to try to do on your own.
For a free legal consultation with a Wrongful Death lawyer serving Auburn, call (334) 523-0664
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Action in Alabama?
Generally, only the victim’s personal representative can file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit in Alabama. This is usually the executor of the victim’s will or the administrator of their estate. Depending on the circumstances, it might be a:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving parent
- Another recognized heir
- The largest creditor of the estate, if any
- A party appointed by the courts during probate
In Alabama, proceeds of a wrongful death claim go to the estate. This means all legal heirs to the estate will receive compensation as described in the will or another estate plan or as decided during the probate process.
Morris Bart & Associates, LLC Understands Alabama Wrongful Death Laws
Alabama’s wrongful death laws are unique and can be challenging to navigate. However, this is not a process you have to try to handle on your own. In fact, we encourage you to enlist our help as soon as possible. Our team can go to work:
- Protecting your loved ones’ rights to financial recovery
- Developing a case and proving negligence
- Building an argument for punitive damages
- Preparing you and your family for what to expect
With 15 locations in four states and lawyers who can represent clients across the Gulf South, our team of attorneys is available to help you when you need us most. In 2019, we won settlements or court awards for more than 6,500 individuals and families. We fight for the best interests of our clients from the day they hire us until the day we have their settlement check in hand.
We can often reach an out-of-court agreement, although this is not always possible in all types of cases or in every claim. If your case goes to trial, we have 40+ years of courtroom litigation experience that will benefit your case. Our team fights hard to get our clients the results they need, expect, and deserve.
Our team only charges contingency fees. We do not collect upfront payments, retainers, or hourly fees. We only get paid after the case is closed and only receive attorney’s fees if we win the case. You can learn more during your free initial case evaluation.
Do You Have a Valid Wrongful Death Case?
Under Ala. Code § 6-5-410, almost any circumstance that would have supported a personal injury claim had the victim survived could be a viable wrongful death case. Types of accidents resulting in wrongful death could include:
- Traffic accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Pedestrian accidents
- Workplace injuries
- Pool accidents
- Other premises liability injuries
- Dog bites
- Defective products
- Nursing home abuse
Much like personal injury claims, there are four elements of negligence we must prove in a wrongful death case:
- Duty of care
In addition, we will need to have strong evidence to show that the at-fault party acted in a particularly negligent, reckless, or intentional way if you are to recover the punitive damages available in these cases. Our team knows how to document these claims and represent families seeking justice and compensation.
The Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases in Alabama
In general, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in Alabama is two years from the date of death, according to Ala. Code § 6-5-410.
However, there could be exceptions to this law that alter the timeline. You may have more or less time than this statute requires. Check with an attorney as soon as possible after your loved one’s death to ensure you do not miss the opportunity for legal action.
Talk to a Lawyer from Morris Bart & Associates, LLC
The Morris Bart law firm may be able to help you and your family after your loved one’s untimely death in an Auburn accident. We have offices across Alabama, including one in Montgomery. You can speak to an attorney about your case for free today. We provide consultations so families can learn more about their rights and the opportunity to hold the at-fault party accountable.
Call (334) 523-0664 now to discuss your case with an Auburn wrongful death lawyer.
Questions?Call (334) 523-0664
to find a Morris Bart office near you.