Birmingham is one of Alabama’s most populous cities, with people coming from all over to eat, live, work, and play. Much like any other bustling city, Birmingham, AL, residents go about their day, making a living, and building a future for their families. Yet, when tragedy strikes and a loved one dies due to the carelessness of another party, it can leave a lot of pain and devastation in the lives of surviving family members.
We understand how difficult it is for a family to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and move forward. We are here to help, so you are not alone. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another person, you may be entitled to seek wrongful death compensation for your loss.
The team at Norris Injury Lawyers is eager to help you explore the legal options available and help you get the answers you need for your wrongful death case. Contact us today for your free case evaluation and find out how we can help you.
What is Wrongful Death in the State of Alabama?
Wrongful death refers to the death of a person caused by the “wrongful act, omission, or negligence” of another party. A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. If successful, the court will award punitive damages to the family of the deceased.
A wrongful death claim may be made if the death resulted from one of the following three situations:
- Negligence: The negligent or careless actions of the at-fault party caused the death
- Intentional act: A person intentionally caused harm resulting in the victim’s death
- Strict liability: An unsafe consumer product or defective medical device caused the death
Generally for 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. Yet, if the victim dies, a surviving family member can pursue legal action and file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for his or her loss.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims
Car accidents are one of the most common causes of wrongful deaths in the United States. Yet, there are various situations that might lead to the preventable death of a loved one.
Common causes of wrongful death claims may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Motor vehicle accident
- Medical malpractice
- Unsafe or defective products
- Work-related injuries
- Nursing home neglect and abuse
If you have lost a family member in death for one of the reasons above, talk to the Norris Birmingham 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 guide you through navigating the complex laws that govern wrongful death lawsuits in Alabama.
What Damages Can Be Recovered by Means of an Alabama Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The State of Alabama has very specific laws regulating wrongful death lawsuits. 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 courts handle damages for wrongful death suits differently.
No compensatory damages
Compensatory damages are often awarded by the courts to cover medical bills and funeral costs of the deceased. However, Alabama law does not allow compensatory damages to be sought after in a wrongful death suit. Many find this unfair since the death of a loved one often places a heavy financial and emotional burden on surviving family members.
Only punitive damages can be rewarded
Alabama state courts will only award punitive damages to the decedent’s survivors for a wrongful death case. The purpose of the Alabama wrongful death law is to punish the at-fault party responsible for the death, rather than compensate the victim’s family for their losses. For this reason, our wrongful death attorneys aggressively fight to seek justice for our clients and help them move forward with their lives.
Are There Limits on Punitive Damages in Alabama?
Alabama does impose limits on most punitive damage claims, however, these limits do not apply to wrongful death claims. This means there is no cap on punitive damages for wrongful death cases in the State of Alabama (AL Code § 6-11-21 (2021)).
The value of the punitive damages is determined by the seriousness of the act that caused the victim’s death. Therefore, it’s vital to have the help of a Birmingham wrongful death lawyer by your side guiding you each step of the way. Norris Injury Lawyers has the knowledge and experience to prove wrongful death and fight for the justice our clients deserve.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
To file a wrongful death lawsuit with the courts, an estate must be first opened on behalf of the deceased. Alabama law requires that a personal representative of the victim be officially designated for the deceased person’s estate (AL Code § 6-5-410). Any wrongful death action must be made by the decedent’s personal representative. This is usually a family member of the deceased person.
If a settlement is agreed upon, any punitive damages are usually distributed to the heirs of the decedent according to Alabama’s laws. A qualified lawyer is not only familiar with how to file a claim on your behalf, but he or she will also know how the Alabama inheritance laws may affect your case. Talk to Norris Injury Lawyers and, together, we can explore what legal options are available and explain the best way to proceed.
Time is Limited to File an Alabama Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Like other personal injury cases, there are specific time limits to submit a wrongful death suit in Alabama. Failure to submit the claim within the set time constraints may result in your application being denied, forfeiting your right to pursue legal action.
Our wrongful death attorneys can examine your case details to determine the deadline for filing your paperwork. If we take on your case, we can ensure we submit all necessary documentation within the required statutes of limitations. Time limits may vary depending on the circumstances of your case, so it is highly recommended to consult with an experienced Birmingham wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.
Proving Wrongful Death in Alabama
In the State of Alabama, punitive damages can only be awarded when there is clear and convincing evidence that negligence caused the death. A Birmingham wrongful death attorney needs to prove that if the deceased was still alive, the victim would have had sufficient evidence to file a personal injury claim based on negligence instead of a wrongful death claim (AL Code § 6-5-410).
Alabama requires a high standard of proof, so it is imperative to have an experienced wrongful death lawyer fighting for you. An attorney with the right background and know-how will examine every detail to establish the facts, gather the evidence, and build a solid case for you.
How a Birmingham Wrongful Lawyer Can Help
Many try to file a wrongful death claim on their own, only to realize it is not as simple as they thought. Our wrongful death lawyers have both the knowledge and experience to help you navigate your way through the complex Alabama legal system. Depending on the circumstances that surround the death of your loved one, each case has its own unique procedural requirements to follow.
Whether your loved one’s death was due to medical malpractice, a workplace incident, or a tragic car accident, one of our wrongful death attorneys can discuss the details with you and give you an honest case evaluation. Building a strong case requires detailed evidence and a good understanding of the local laws that govern your case.
Duties that Birmingham wrongful death lawyers can carry out on your behalf include:
- Listening attentively to understand how the events unfolded and determine who is at fault
- Gathering and collating all supporting evidence such as medical records, pay slips, or photos
- Visiting the accident scene and gathering witness statements
- Collecting necessary evidence such as police reports, surveillance videos, and affidavits
- Seeking specialist opinions and reports from medical experts to support your claim
- Maintaining communication with the relevant insurance company
- Filing essential documentation with the courts within the required time constraints
To ensure you have plenty of time to file your claim on time, it is important to seek legal counsel with a reputable lawyer as soon as possible. When Norris Injury Lawyers take on a case, we use our time, energy, and resources to get the justice our client deserves. Our goal is to get a wrongful death settlement that is fair and satisfies our client’s needs.
How Much Does a Wrongful Death Lawyer Cost?
When a family has already lost so much, it can be extremely stressful for them to wonder how they will cover their legal fees. Norris Injury Lawyers offers legal services to all Birmingham residents on a contingency fee basis.
This means that you don’t have to worry about out-of-pocket costs or upfront fees when you work with us. We only get paid after we have won your case and you are awarded your settlement.
Providing Quality Legal Representation for More Than Forty Years
Norris Injury Law is a family law firm that has dedicated its knowledge and experience to helping people in Alabama and across the United States for over 40 years. We have helped our clients seek justice and recover millions of dollars in compensation for their suffering.
If you have lost a loved one in death because of the careless actions of another person, we are here to listen with empathy and give you the quality legal advice you can trust. If you choose to hire us, we will tailor our representation to your needs, providing you with the personalized service you deserve.
Come talk to Norris Injury Lawyers and see if we are the right fit for you. Contact us online or call us at (800) 477-7510 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.