Alabama Wrongful Death Attorneys
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim or Lawsuit
Losing a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence is devastating. At Morris Haynes Attorneys at Law, we are here to help you through this very difficult time. Our Alabama wrongful death attorneys can help you understand your legal rights and options, including your potential right to fair financial compensation. Although nothing can undo the trauma of losing a loved one, a successful recovery can provide you and your family with the resources you need to heal.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
In the simplest of terms, a wrongful death is a death that results from the negligent or wrongful conduct of another. Specifically, the state of Alabama defines wrongful death as the death of a person arising from “[the] wrongful act, omission, or negligence” of another person or party. Essentially, if the person who died (known as the “decedent” in these cases) would have had grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit had he or she lived, the death is likely considered wrongful.
Wrongful death cases often arise from:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Large truck collisions
- Hospital negligence
- Nursing home abuse
- Daycare negligence
- Foster care abuse
- Defective products
If you believe that your loved one’s death could have—and should have—been prevented, reach out to our Alabama wrongful death attorneys at Morris Haynes Attorneys at Law. You could be entitled to financial compensation, and our team can help you begin building your case.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Alabama?
In the state of Alabama, only certain individuals can bring a wrongful death claim. Eligibility depends on the status of the decedent as either an adult or a minor at the time of death.
Below, we have outlined who may file a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama depending on the decedent’s age at the time of death:
- If the Decedent Was an Adult: If the decedent was 19 or older when he or she died, he or she is considered an adult decedent. In such cases, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate (also known as the “executor”) can file a wrongful death claim. If the individual died without naming a personal representative, the court will appoint one.
- If the Decedent Was a Minor: If the decedent was 18 or younger when he or she died, he or she is considered a minor. In such cases, the minor’s parents have six months from the date of death to initiate a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. Once the six months have passed, the personal representative must be the one to file a claim or lawsuit.
Our wrongful death attorneys can determine whether Alabama law allows you to bring a claim. We encourage you to reach out to us today to set up a free consultation and case evaluation.
What Types of Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In most states, the purpose of filing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit is twofold: first, it allows surviving family members and dependents to obtain financial compensation for specific losses related to the death of their loved one and, second, it helps bring a much-needed sense of justice.
There are two types of damages available in wrongful death claims:
- Compensatory Damages: These are damages meant to compensate surviving loved ones for economic and non-economic losses they have endured as a result of the wrongful death.
- Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant (the at-fault party) and send a message that such conduct will not be tolerated.
In Alabama, you may only recover punitive damages in a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. This is different than nearly all other states, which allow eligible individuals to recover both compensatory and punitive damages. In other words, in Alabama, you cannot recover financial compensation for losses related to your loved one’s death, such as medical expenses, funeral costs, or emotional distress. In this way, the state of Alabama focuses on punishing the defendant for wrongdoing, rather than on providing monetary relief for surviving family members and dependents.
How an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
In the wake of a tragic accident or the unexpected loss of a loved one, the team at Morris Haynes Attorneys at Law can help you and your family fight for justice. We believe that negligent individuals, property owners, businesses, and other entities should be held accountable. Our Alabama wrongful death lawyers have more than 30 years of experience helping our clients receive the fair recoveries they are owed. We have thoroughly studied and applied Alabama’s wrongful death statute to real cases, successfully securing more than $1 billion in compensation for our clients to date.
If your loved one has lost their life due to the negligence of another, contact us today for a free consultation. We do not collect any upfront or out-of-pocket expenses from our clients; instead, we only collect attorney fees if we recover compensation on your behalf. When you work with Morris Haynes Attorneys at Law, you will always receive direct communication and personal representation from a highly qualified partner attorney, not an associate.
When is a death considered “wrongful” in Alabama?
If your loved one died due to the negligence, wrongful conduct, or omission of another, the death is likely considered “wrongful” under state law. According to the state’s contributory negligence rule, you may not have a case if your loved one is found to have contributed in any way to the accident or event that led to his or her death. We encourage you to reach out to our firm right away for more information.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama?
The statute of limitations on nearly all wrongful death lawsuits in Alabama is two years, meaning you have just two years to file a lawsuit. Typically, the clock begins ticking on the date of death, even if this is not the same date as the initial accident.
How is a wrongful death lawsuit different from a homicide or murder case?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil claim, whereas homicide and murder cases are examples of criminal proceedings. These are two separate legal proceedings. In a criminal homicide or murder case, the prosecution seeks criminal penalties associated with the crime, such as jail time, a prison sentence, fines, court costs, etc. In a wrongful death lawsuit, however, the plaintiff (the person who brings the claim) seeks financial recovery on behalf of eligible individuals, such as the decedent’s spouse, children, or parents. In a criminal case, the defendant must be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt to be convicted; in a civil case, the defendant must only be found to be more likely than not to be at fault (otherwise known as “guilty by preponderance of the evidence”). This means that wrongful death lawsuits can sometimes be easier to prove than criminal cases. Note that criminal proceedings and a civil lawsuit may occur simultaneously, and the outcome of one case does not necessarily affect the other.