Losing a loved one after a fatal car accident is devastating. While you’re deep in the grieving process, you must also deal with many practical and financial hurdles, and you may ask, “How do I seek justice for my family?”
If you believe another motorist’s actions led to your loved one’s tragic death in a vehicle crash, contact our legal team at Jackson & Foster Law. Our experienced wrongful death lawyers will evaluate your case and help you take legal action to fight for what you are owed.
Are You Entitled to Compensation If Your Loved One Dies in a Car Crash?
Here’s one important thing to know about wrongful death cases, including fatal car accident cases, in Alabama: the only compensation available to victims’ families consists of punitive damages.
In other states, surviving family members can often pursue compensatory damages like medical expenses, funeral costs, and loss of financial support. In Alabama, punitive damages are your only recourse. To win this type of award, you must prove fault.
In many cases, you and your lawyer will need to show that:
- The other motorist involved in the accident acted negligently (for example, exceeded the speed limit or drove while intoxicated)
- That motorist’s actions led to your loved one’s fatal vehicle accident
The outcome of your case will usually depend on presenting compelling evidence like photos of the accident scene, dash cam footage, witness testimonies, medical records, and the police accounts of the scene.
What If Your Loved One Was Partially Responsible for the Accident?
Often, both sides’ actions contribute to a car accident in different proportions. While the majority of states allow the victim’s family to seek compensation even if the victim was partially responsible, Alabama is a pure contributory negligence state. This means that if your family member carried even 1% of the fault for the accident, you may not be able to pursue a wrongful death claim.
The other side may use Alabama’s contributory negligence laws and try to pin the responsibility on your family member. That’s one reason why losing a loved one after a fatal car accident in Alabama means you need skilled legal help.
What Happens If Your Loved One Was a Passenger?
If a motorist in another vehicle caused the crash, it usually makes no difference whether your loved one was the driver or a passenger.
However, if your family member rode with a negligent driver, and that driver was responsible for the accident, your only way to pursue a wrongful death claim may be if you can prove serious misconduct, like intoxication, or if your family member provided compensation for the ride. Our lawyers will investigate all the circumstances of your family member’s accident and help you understand your legal options.
Can You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Only the deceased victim’s personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama. Whoever your loved one named as their representative in a valid will must take legal action. If your family member left no will, the court will appoint a representative. The timeframe for wrongful death lawsuits is usually two years from the victim’s passing.
If you’re a parent who lost a minor child under 19, you can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit even if you’re not your child’s personal representative, provided you file within six months of the victim’s death. After this time, only the minor’s court-appointed representative can take legal action.
Compensation You May Expect
Because punitive damages are the only type of compensation for surviving family members in Alabama, it can be hard to tell how much your wrongful death case may be worth.
While compensatory damages may be more predictable, punitive damages depend a lot on the jury’s discretion. The court may consider the severity of the defendant’s transgressions, any elements of malicious conduct, and even the defendant’s ability to pay.
Who Collects Compensation?
Although the decedent’s personal representative files the lawsuit, any punitive damages award goes directly to the family based on intestacy laws. For instance:
- If the decedent has a surviving spouse but no children, the spouse collects the entire award
- If the decedent had children but no spouse, the award goes to children in equal shares
- If the decedent had both a spouse and children, the spouse receives $50,000 plus half of the remainder, while the children share the rest
Why You Need a Stellar Wrongful Death Lawyer
Working with a competent fatal car accident lawyer is crucial in Alabama because you can only seek punitive damages and may have to prove that the other side was 100% responsible for the accident. You need a seasoned lawyer with solid trial experience who will advocate for your interests and protect you from the other side’s attempts to deny your claim.
At Jackson & Foster Law, we have almost four decades of legal practice representing families who lost their loved ones in fatal car accidents. Our hardworking, efficient legal team can:
- Assess your case and let you know whether you have a wrongful death case
- Gather compelling evidence for a powerful claim
- Provide end-to-end legal support relating to your claim to minimize stress for you and your family during this difficult time
- Fight for your rights in the courtroom and use every available legal strategy to help you win compensation
At Jackson & Foster Law, we handle fatal car accident cases on a contingency basis, so you’ll only pay if we secure a settlement or verdict.
Jackson & Foster Law: Powerful Representation for Your Car Accident Wrongful Death Case in Mobile, AL
While nothing will truly compensate you for losing a loved one after a fatal car accident, our skilled wrongful death attorneys can help you pursue a wrongful death lawsuit and fight for a recovery. Contact our hardworking team at Jackson & Foster Law today.
Call 251-433-6699 or complete our online form for a free case evaluation.