Wrongful Death Lawsuit Frequently Asked Questions
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What Counts As “Wrongful Death” In Alabama?
Deaths that occur because of someone else’s wrongful act or omission fall under the “wrongful death” category in Alabama.
Some examples include:
- Careless driving
- Medical malpractice
- Failure to keep premises safe
- Intentional violence
Violent acts are somewhat different from other wrongful death cases since the accused person may face both criminal charges and a civil wrongful death lawsuit.
Can I Take Legal Action After My Loved One’s Death?
Alabama typically only allows the decedent’s personal representative to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This law sets Alabama apart from many other states, which may allow the victim’s immediate family members to seek legal recourse after a wrongful death. The personal representative is either someone whom your loved one had named in a valid will or a trusted person appointed by the probate court.
How Long Do I Have To File a Claim?
“How soon should I act?” is perhaps the crucial wrongful death lawsuit FAQ in Alabama. The state’s statute of limitations gives wrongful death cases a two-year time limit starting from the victim’s death. If the decedent’s personal representative misses that deadline, they lose their right to file a lawsuit.
In some cases, the timeframe for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is even shorter. If you’re suing a municipal agency or a county government, you must file a claim within six or 12 months, respectively.
We recommend consulting a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after your loss. The faster you act, the better your chances of winning the case since it’s easier to gather evidence while it’s fresh.
How Does Compensation for Wrongful Death Work in Alabama?
In some other states, the victim’s family or representative can seek compensatory damages, including medical costs, funeral expenses, and loss of financial support.
In Alabama, punitive damages are the only type of compensation available in wrongful death cases. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are meant to penalize the wrongdoer and discourage others from similar acts.
A punitive damage award will go directly to surviving family members, following state succession laws. The payout won’t go toward the estate.
It can be hard to estimate how much your case may be worth since the award doesn’t depend on tangible losses like medical costs and lost wages. The payout may vary widely and depends on the specifics of the wrongful act, the guilty party’s degree of fault, and other factors.
Will My Case Go to Trial?
Your wrongful death case may be resolved in two ways: a settlement offer from the defendant’s insurance company or a courtroom trial. An out-of-court settlement typically is quicker, but a proficient attorney should also be ready to take your case to trial if the other side refuses to negotiate or fails to make a reasonable offer.
Do I Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Working with a competent attorney is crucial in a wrongful death case. This is true for every state, but especially in Alabama, where your compensation is limited to punitive damages, and your case can hinge on establishing fault.
The other side and their lawyer may do all they can to deny fault and avoid paying you. You need a trustworthy, aggressive legal representative to help you seek justice for your family. Competent wrongful death attorneys can help you prove fault, navigate the court system, and advocate for your rights throughout the case.
How Much Do Wrongful Death Lawyers Charge?
Personal injury and wrongful death lawyers may handle cases on a contingency basis, meaning that they charge a percentage of your award rather than an upfront fee. You’d only pay when you collect your settlement.
The contingency fee varies between law firms and different cases.
How Do I Choose a Wrongful Death Attorney?
When you look for a lawyer to represent you, you may want to choose a reputable local law firm with a proven track record of successfully settling similar cases. It may help to look for a lawyer who has solid trial experience and knows how to handle wrongful death lawsuits. Read reviews and look into exact sums of past settlements or awards.
Ask the lawyer how they would present your case to establish fault. Beware of any lawyer who dodges your questions, makes unrealistic promises, or doesn’t appear to have relevant experience.
If you have more questions beyond these wrongful death lawsuit FAQs in Alabama, please contact our law firm to request a free consultation
“I was driving through Mobile, AL on a long distance road trip when I was involved in a motor vehicle accident. The experience was horrible. The accident occurred halfway between my parents’ house in Texas and my home in Georgia.
I was referred to Jackson & Foster by a friend of mine and was able to obtain him as representation. They answered all of my questions (there were many) and made sure I understood the process of working with the different insurance companies. They kept me updated on the status of the case so I always knew where we were in the process. They made sure I understood that nothing was going to happen overnight and that these things take time.
Jackson & Foster made this horrible experience of mine a lot easier to navigate. I would definitely use them again and would refer them to anyone looking for somebody that is easy to work with and willing to work for you to make sure the outcome turns out in your favor.”