A Dothan wrongful death attorney from the Morris Bart law firm could help you recover compensation based on the incident that led to your loved one’s death. Alabama’s wrongful death laws allow representatives to seek punitive damages for the estate of someone who passed away due to another party’s negligence.
This award could mean you and your family can get help to pay your bills and live without your loved one’s lost income. The Morris Bart law office provides free case consultations, so potential clients can learn if they qualify to act, how these cases work, and more. The wrongful death laws in Alabama can be complicated, but our team can help.
Recovering Punitive Damages Following a Dothan, Alabama, Wrongful Death
The Alabama Wrongful Death Act, Ala. Code § 6-5-410, allows certain parties to file a lawsuit and recover damages. You need to know these things about this law:
- Only punitive damages are available
- The money goes to the decedent’s estate
- Only certain parties can file these suits
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are a type of compensation awarded by a jury or judge in a civil case. They penalize the at-fault party for their negligence and deter others from acting similarly. In addition, they are generally unrelated to the actual expenses and losses experienced by the victims.
Punitive damages may not be available in a case where a minor mistake or general carelessness caused the accident. However, you could have a wrongful death claim if you can prove that a “wrongful act, omission, or negligence” caused your loved one’s death.
In addition, any payout in an Alabama wrongful death case goes to the estate—unlike many states, where the award goes directly to the decedent’s closest relatives, such as their children, spouse, or parents. While the estate’s heirs often are the same kinship, that is not always true.
What Makes This Law So Unusual?
Per Ala. Code § 6-11-20, punitive damages are rarely awarded in personal injury cases. They require “clear and convincing evidence” that the liable party “consciously or deliberately engaged” in harmful behavior, including wantonness or malice. In fact, many states ban them.
However, punitive damages are the only damages recoverable under the state’s wrongful death statute. As a result, families that incur financial expenses and losses because of the death cannot seek money specifically to cover those damages.
Instead, they must pursue punitive damages that sufficiently make up the difference. In some cases, a punitive award may be significantly higher. However, punitive awards are based solely on how badly the liable party behaved, not the money lost by the family.
For a free legal consultation with a Wrongful Death lawyer serving Dothan, call (800) 537-8185
Morris Bart & Associates, LLC, Represents Dothan Families and Estates
We recovered compensation for more than 6,500 clients at the Morris Bart law office in 2019. We have over 40 years of experience and 15 locations, including six in Alabama:
We are a contingency fee law firm. We do not ask our clients to pay us upfront fees, including retainers. We also do not charge hourly fees while working on your case. Instead, we receive a percentage of the total financial recovery in your case for our attorney’s fees. However, our lawyers collect no fees if you do not recover money.
How Alabama Wrongful Death Cases Work
Alabama’s wrongful death law only allows certain parties to file a claim or lawsuit to recover compensation. The plaintiff is generally the personal representative of the deceased, who is often the executor of the will, administrator of an estate plan, or the party named by the probate court to handle this process.
Once we identify who can act, the process moves forward, much like any personal injury accident case. First, our team investigates what happened, determining if negligence occurred and who was responsible. Next, we must find evidence to show:
- The liable party had a duty to do (or not do) something
- They breached this duty
- The breach led to the incident and the victim’s injuries
- The victim passed away because of their injuries
In addition, because you can only seek punitive damages, we must show the severity of the liable party’s bad behavior. For example, showing they drove while intoxicated will likely result in a more substantial award than simply proving they failed to stay in their lane of traffic.
Contributory Negligence and How It Might Affect Your Claim
It is also important to understand the role Alabama’s pure contributory negligence rule could play. Under Golden v. McCurry (1980), Alabama is one of four states nationwide recognizing this type of shared fault law. Generally, it bars victims who contributed to causing their accident or injuries in any way from recovering compensation.
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How Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Support You
Our attorneys know how difficult it can be for surviving family members to navigate the wrongful death claims process after a Dothan accident. We are here for you and your family and could help you by:
- Protecting your rights
- Developing a compelling case for damages
- Gathering, analyzing, and presenting evidence
- Countering any accusations of shared fault
- Representing your best interests
- Seeking justice for your deceased loved one and the rest of your family
- Filing your claim or lawsuit
- Fighting for compensation based on the facts of the case
If you have questions or believe you may have a viable wrongful death claim, we will review your options with you for free. However, we encourage all potential clients to contact us as soon as possible because Ala. Code § 6-5-410(d) gives you up to two years to file a wrongful death claim.
There are exceptions to this rule. One example is if a child died because of someone else’s negligence. As a result, you might have more time or less time to get started. However, for most, waiting more than 24 months from their loved one’s date of death would bar them from financial recovery on behalf of the estate.
Speak With an Attorney from Morris Bart & Associates, LLC
You can discuss your opportunity to pursue wrongful death compensation for your family during a free initial consultation with an attorney from the Morris Bart law office near you today. We will assess your legal options and answer any questions you have about this process.
Call (800) 537-8185 to get started today.
Questions?Call (800) 537-8185
to find a Morris Bart office near you.