Birmingham Wrongful Death Attorneys
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Jefferson County
At Morris Haynes Attorneys at Law, we recognize that there is nothing worse than losing a loved one. Knowing that your loved one’s death could have—and should have—been prevented can make the healing process that much more difficult.
Our Birmingham wrongful death attorneys believe that people, companies, manufacturers, and others responsible for fatal accidents should be held accountable. You and your family deserve justice, and we can help. Since 1991, our firm has been representing clients in complex wrongful death claims throughout the state of Alabama and beyond, providing compassionate counsel and aggressive advocacy every step of the way.
What Makes a Death “Wrongful?”
In Alabama, a “wrongful death” is the death of an individual caused by the “wrongful act, omission, or negligence” of another party. This could be another person, or it could be a company, manufacturer, government agency, or some other entity. Essentially, the law recognizes a death as “wrongful” if the person who died (the “decedent”) would have had grounds for a personal injury claim had he or she lived.
Some common causes of wrongful death include:
- Motor vehicle accidents, including car, motorcycle, and truck accidents
- Defective products, such as auto defects or gun defects
- Abuse and neglect in nursing homes, hospitals, daycares, and foster homes
- Sports and recreation accidents, such as boating or ATV accidents
- Dangerous property conditions, leading to slip and falls and other accidents
- Dog bites and attacks, or attacks by other animals
- Fatal workplace and job-related accidents
- Criminal activity, such as assault, battery, homicide, and murder
If your loved one’s death was someone else’s fault, you may have grounds for a wrongful death claim or lawsuit against the liable party. Reach out to our team at Morris Haynes Attorneys at Law to learn more during a complimentary and confidential consultation.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim (or lawsuit) is a civil legal action in which the person or party who brings the claim (the “plaintiff”) seeks monetary recovery from the at-fault or liable party (the “defendant”). Unlike many other states, Alabama does not allow plaintiffs to recover compensatory damages in wrongful death cases. This means that you may not recover compensation for specific losses you have endured as a result of your loved one’s death, such as medical bills associated with the decedent’s treatment for fatal injuries, funeral or burial costs, loss of income, or loss of inheritance. You also cannot recover compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of companionship.
Instead, plaintiffs in wrongful death cases in Alabama may only recover punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the defendant for egregious negligence, wrongdoing, or misconduct. Punitive damages also serve to send a message that such conduct will not be tolerated.
Wrongful death lawsuits are entirely separate from criminal proceedings. If your loved one died as a result of someone else’s unlawful conduct—such as drunk driving or assault—you can file a wrongful death lawsuit in addition to any criminal proceedings that may (or may not) be initiated against the defendant. While the outcome of a criminal case does not necessarily affect the outcome of a civil wrongful death lawsuit, a guilty verdict in criminal court can serve as additional evidence in support of your claim.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Alabama?
In most cases, the personal representative (sometimes known as the “executor”) of the decedent’s estate must file the wrongful death action. However, if the decedent was a minor when he or she died, the surviving parents have six months to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the minor decedent’s parents do not file a lawsuit within six months, or if the minor decedent’s parents are deceased, the claim must be brought by the personal representative.
Although the personal representative must typically be the one to file a claim, punitive damages are sought on behalf of eligible surviving family members, including spouses, children, dependents, and heirs. Our Birmingham wrongful death attorneys at Morris Haynes Attorneys at Law can help you determine if you may be eligible to file a claim and/or receive a settlement or verdict after the sudden and tragic death of a loved one. Reach out to us today for a free consultation.
Providing the Compassionate Support You Need
At Morris Haynes Attorneys at Law, we understand that you are going through one of the most difficult times in your life. We recognize that no amount of monetary recovery can negate the immense loss you have endured. However, we have also seen firsthand how a fair settlement or verdict can provide a much-needed sense of justice to surviving family members, as well as the monetary resources they need to heal.
For more than 30 years, our firm has successfully represented individuals and families in all types of personal injury and wrongful death claims. We have secured numerous million- and multimillion-dollar results for our clients and have held negligent motorists, manufacturers, property owners, and other entities accountable. We are committed to recovering every last cent you are owed and will do everything in our power to maximize your recovery.
When you turn to Morris Haynes Attorneys at Law, you will receive direct communication and personal attention from a partner attorney at our firm. We are compassionate, focused, and prepared to take cases to trial whenever necessary. There are no upfront or out-of-pocket expenses when you work with Morris Haynes Attorneys at Law; instead, we only collect legal fees if we win your case.