Wednesday, August 17

What Is Wrongful Death in Alabama?

A wrongful death occurs when there is an accident, and someone is killed. If the person responsible for the accident was negligent, willingly or not, they can be sued for wrongful death. Mobile wrongful death lawyers are here to help you if you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person.

Wrongful death cases are held in civil court, separate from criminal court. You may file a suit whether criminal charges are filed or not. In criminal court, you must prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil cases, you need only prove the likelihood that something happened, which is called preponderance of the evidence.

Each state is a little different, but the essentials are the same. If you have lost a loved one due to someone’s negligence, you may be able to recoup some damages. Because each state is different, and the law is complex, you will need a wrongful death attorney to help you with your case.

Payment for pain and suffering is what is heard about most in such lawsuits, but there are other things you may be entitled to. Expenses for a funeral or burial, as well as medical expenses, may also be reimbursed. The loss of income from the person who died is also often part of the settlement. You may also sue for loss of support regardless of what kind of support that was.

In Alabama, you have two years in most cases, from the date of the death to file your lawsuit. There are some cases, however, where that time is shortened considerably. It will take a little time to get past the initial trauma of losing a loved one, but if you feel you have a case, you should contact a wrongful death attorney as soon as you can.

Another factor to consider is Alabama’s contributory negligence law. This means that even if another person was at fault if you contributed to that fault even by one percent you will not be able to collect damages. An exception is when there is “wanton conduct” involved, which means recklessly putting someone else in danger.  A person who was driving drunk would be considered acting in a reckless or wanton manner. Running a stop sign because you did not see it could be negligence but not necessarily reckless or wanton.

The personal representative of the deceased person is the only person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This would be the executor of the will, or if there is no will, whoever is determined to be the administrator of the estate is considered that person.

In Alabama, there are a limited number of people who would be eligible to receive proceeds from a lawsuit. Family members who would receive the property if a person died are the only ones that can receive payment. The state’s law of succession would determine the beneficiaries based on the relationship, such as a spouse, children, parents, and so forth.

Proceeds from the lawsuit do not become part of the estate, however. This keeps creditors from being able to claim part of the money like they could from the estate.

There are two things that must be proven. First, you must prove the person actually caused the death. This is the easiest part since you probably have proof of who caused the accident. The second part involves proving that the death was foreseeable and that the person failed to take action to avoid the accident. Failing to stop for a red light on the road would fit into this category. You have a legal duty to stop, so if you cause an accident that kills someone, your failure to act is negligence.

These cases can get complex, and especially if you are filing a lawsuit against a company, you can be sure the other side has a solid team of attorneys representing them. It is good to find an attorney that has a lot of experience in wrongful death cases.

Often these cases are settled out of court. Your attorney can help negotiate a fair settlement that both parties are comfortable with. Sometimes negotiations fail, and you do not reach an agreement. In those cases, you will need to go to court.  When looking for a wrongful death attorney, ask about their court record. How many cases have they taken to trial, and what were the results?

If an attorney has a reputation of not being afraid to go to court, that will help with negotiations. In almost all cases you will get a better settlement in negotiations if there is a realistic threat of going to court if an agreement is not reached.

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of someone else, contact a wrongful death attorney. The consultation is free to determine the merits of your case. The attorney does not get paid unless you win the case.

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