Car accident fatalities often cause much pain and heartache to the surviving family members. Alabama has a high fatality rate of almost 19 deaths per 100,000 people. The Alabama Department of Transportation states that, based on 2019 crash data, typical drivers in Alabama have a greater than 1 in 3 chance of being involved in a car crash in their lifetime. These statistics are astounding, but the loss of life is much more than a statistic.
When a fatal accident occurs, there is sure to be much pain and suffering for the victim and those who cared for him or her until death. Losing a loved one in a car accident often comes as a shock because it is unexpected.
It may take a while for your family to come to terms with what has happened, so it is hard to know how to seek legal justice for a loved one’s death or even where to begin. But you have options to seek justice and obtain compensation! For one, you might consider filing a wrongful death claim.
Our legal team at Norris Injury Lawyers is dedicated to helping you explore the legal options available and get the answers you need for your case. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation and to find out how we can help you.
Common Factors That Contribute to Fatal Car Injuries in Alabama
Car accidents are one of the most common causes of wrongful deaths in the United States. According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, there was a total of 932 people killed in 853 fatal traffic crashes in 2020.
Other Alabama crash statistics for 2020 include:
- 58 percent of fatalities were not wearing a seatbelt (in fatal crashes where seat belts were available for use)
- 48 percent of all fatal car crashes occurred at night time (including dawn and dusk)
- 62 percent of fatal car accidents in Alabama occur in rural areas
- Every 9 hours and 20 minutes someone was killed in a car accident
If you have lost a family member in death in any accident, talk to one of our wrongful death lawyers today. We will listen to your story, explore what legal options are available, and explain how we can defend your rights. If you decide to hire us, we can help you through this difficult time and navigate the complex laws that govern wrongful death lawsuits in Alabama.
Wrongful Death Laws in the State of Alabama
The loss of life in any type of accident is tragic and it often leaves a hole in the lives of families left behind. While this may feel unfair, not all deaths caused in a car accident are classified as wrongful death in a legal sense. Wrongful death refers to when a person dies as a result of a “wrongful act, omission, or negligence” of another party (Alabama Code §§ 6-5-391 and 6-5-410 (2021).
A wrongful death claim may be made if the death resulted from one of the following three situations:
- Negligence: A person’s careless or negligent actions caused the death
- Intentional act: A person intentionally caused harm to another person which resulted in the death
- Strict liability: An unsafe consumer product or defective medical device caused the death
If it is determined that the death of your loved one was the result of one of the three situations above, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed. If successful, the court will hold the responsible party accountable for their actions and award punitive damages to the estate of the deceased.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In most personal injury cases, if a person is injured due to another person’s negligence, the victim can file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for his or her damages. Therefore, if the victim passes away, a personal representative of the deceased can seek compensation on his or her behalf.
The State of Alabama has specific laws regulating wrongful death lawsuits. These enable only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate, or the executor, to file a wrongful death claim (AL Code § 6-5-410). This is sometimes a family member of the deceased person.
What Damages Can Be Recovered in an Alabama Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Many states allow surviving relatives to pursue compensatory damages for financial and emotional losses caused by the wrongful death of a loved one. However, Alabama state law does not allow compensatory damages to be sought after in a wrongful death suit.
Courts in Alabama will only award punitive damages for wrongful death lawsuits. Punitive damages are different from compensatory damages because they are used to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar behavior. The amount of punitive damages awarded is determined by the seriousness of the act that caused the victim’s death. There is no cap on punitive damages for wrongful death cases in the State of Alabama (AL Code § 6-11-21 (2021)).
When a wrongful death lawsuit is successful, punitive damages are usually distributed to the heirs of the deceased. Due to the specific inheritance laws surrounding wrongful death accidents in Alabama, it is beneficial to hire a wrongful death lawyer to help with your case. After all, this ensures expediency and accuracy – all while you can focus on yourself, your family, and your recovery.
Call us to find out your rights and we can explore what legal options are available to you.
Time Limits for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Alabama
The State of Alabama imposes strict time limits to file wrongful death claims. It’s important not to delay filing the correct paperwork on time. Failure to submit the appropriate documents before the statute of limitations expires may result in your application being rejected and you may be barred from seeking legal action.
Time limits may vary depending on the circumstances of your case, so it is beneficial to talk with an experienced wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. Talk to one of our legal team and we can carefully examine your case to determine how long you have to submit your claim. When we take on a case, our clients have the confidence that we will submit all necessary documentation within the required statutes of limitations.
Establishing Negligence for a Wrongful Death Case in Alabama
Similar to personal injury cases, a successful wrongful death lawsuit must establish that another entity’s negligence led to the death of the victim. The burden of proof falls on the shoulders of the personal representative of the deceased. The evidence must clearly show that the deceased victim would have had sufficient evidence to file a personal injury claim based on negligence (AL Code § 6-5-410).
To establish negligence in the State of Alabama, the following factors must be determined:
- Duty of care: The other party owed a duty of care to the deceased
- Breach: The other party failed to uphold the owed duty of care
- Causation: The other party’s actions or inaction caused the death of the victim
Alabama requires a high standard of proof to determine negligence caused the death, so it is vital to have an experienced wrongful death lawyer on your side. The legal team at Norris Injury Lawyers knows exactly how to establish the facts and gather clear and convincing evidence to build a solid case for you.
How Much Does a Wrongful Death Lawyer Cost in Alabama?
Norris Injury Lawyers provide quality legal representation to Alabaman residents without the bother of out-of-pocket costs or upfront fees. Our law firm works on a contingency basis, which means you don’t owe us a dime unless we get you money. We only get paid after we have won your case and you are awarded your settlement.
What You Can Expect From Your Wrongful Death Lawyer
We value each client and understand that no two cases are the same. We believe it is vital that our clients understand the details of the legal process and what to expect each step of the way.
When you hire our wrongful death lawyers, you can be assured that we will seek your best interests and carry out the following duties:
- Listen attentively with understanding
- Respond to all your questions
- Gather and collate all supporting evidence such as medical records, pay slips, or photos
- Visit the accident scene
- Contact eyewitnesses and get their statements
- Collect necessary evidence such as police reports, surveillance videos, and affidavits
- Seek specialist opinions and reports from medical experts to support your claim
- Maintain all correspondence with the insurance company
- File necessary documentation with the courts within the required time constraints
- Keep you up-to-date on any case developments
Providing Quality Legal Representation for More than Forty Years
Losing a loved one in a tragic car accident can be an overwhelming and devastating experience for families. Not only must you deal with the sudden loss of a beloved family member, but you may also face unexpected financial and emotional hardships.
We strive to put our knowledge and resources to work to help surviving family members of wrongful death victims. Our goal is to get justice for you and your loved one, doing all we can to secure a fair settlement.
If you have lost a loved one in death because of the careless actions of another person, we are here to help. Norris Injury Lawyers has helped clients across Alabama and the United States recover millions of dollars for their suffering. We provide personalized service to each client, tailoring our representation to your individual needs.
Come talk to Norris Injury Lawyers and see if we are the right fit for you. Contact us or call us at (800) 477-7510 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.