None of us like to think about the possibility that our loved ones may die and we certainly hope they’re going to die at the hands of another. Yet, every year, thousands of people die as a result of others’ negligence and preventable injuries. When this happens, you’ll need the services of an experienced Birmingham wrongful death lawyer.
Wrongful death claims can be some of the most complex cases to handle. It is not simply about compensation, but about justice for the victim’s family. Damages for wrongful death cases in Alabama are punitive, not compensatory. Punitive damages are to punish and deter future wrongful conduct.
Wrongful death is a type of personal injury. The major difference between wrongful death and personal injury is that someone dies as a result of their injuries.
Some wrongful death actions are filed as the result of a car accident. Others were caused by medical malpractice. There are many types of wrongful death suits.
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s actions, call the wrongful death lawyers at HWNN. You will receive a risk-free consultation with an experienced attorney who can advise you of your rights and potential case.
What Are the Elements of Wrongful Death Suit?
In order to recover under wrongful death, your lawyer will have to prove four elements.
The burden of proof is going to be on the plaintiff. This means your Birmingham wrongful death lawyer will have to prove the following:
You’ll have to prove that your loved one’s death was caused by carelessness, negligence or recklessness by the defendant.
Breach of duty
You have to show that the defendant breached some duty of care he owed the victim. For example, if your spouse died from a misdiagnosis, you’ll have to show the doctor had a duty to accurately diagnose his patient and that he fell below the standard of care. If someone causes a car accident, you have to prove the other driver caused was at fault.
Your attorney will need to demonstrate that your loved one died because of the defendant’s breach. So, let’s say a doctor failed to diagnose your husband with cancer. Your husband survives cancer but is killed in a car accident a year later. You can’t sue the doctor for wrongful death because the misdiagnosis didn’t cause your husband’s death.
Wrongful death damages in Alabama are punitive, not compensatory. They are to punish and deter future wrongful conduct that takes someone’s life.
Alabama is a little different from other states when it comes to wrongful death damages. Under the Alabama wrongful death statute, you can’t sue a defendant for compensatory damages. This means you can’t pursue them for lost wages, funeral expenses, etc. You can only file suit for punitive damages.
The reason they allow punitive damages is to punish the defendant and to deter other people from acting the way the defendant acted. The law also recognizes that all human life is precious, regardless of the decedent’s station in life.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Alabama?
Another way Alabama is different from other states is when it comes to who can file a wrongful death suit. In most states, any immediate family of the deceased is allowed to file suit on behalf of the deceased. Alabama doesn’t follow this rule.
In Alabama, the only person who can file wrongful death lawsuits in Alabama is the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. An estate must be opened on behalf of the deceased person. Now, a family member can be named personal representative of the estate. In fact, he or she usually is. This is the person who has the right to sue on behalf of their loved one who has died.
When it comes to who you can sue for wrongful death, there are many different possible parties. It really depends on what kind of accident killed your loved one.
Some of the more common wrongful death defendants include:
- Hospitals: If your loved one is being treated in the hospital and dies, you may have a wrongful death claim. Now, in most cases, the hospital will have done everything possible to help save your family member. It is rare that there is actual negligence on the part of the hospital. But, if there is, your Birmingham wrongful death lawyer can demand that justice be done. He or she can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital.
- Doctors and nurses: Doctors may be cited for failing to diagnose a patient or for misdiagnosing a patient. For example, if a doctor misses an obvious diagnosis and his patient dies, he can be sued for wrongful death.
- Car drivers: If the decedent dies in a car accident, the other driver may be liable for wrongful death. This is very common with drunk driving accidents. It is also common with truck accidents.
- Trucking companies: If the decedent dies in a wreck with a truck and the driver of the truck was negligent, the company that owns the vehicle may be responsible for damages.
- Drug manufacturers: There are so many new drugs coming out on the market, we have no idea what is safe and what isn’t. If a drug ends up causing deadly interactions or is dangerous, the manufacturer may be sued for wrongful death.
- Product manufacturers and designers: Just like with drug manufacturers, if any product is dangerous, the manufacturer and designer can be sued.
- Criminals: These cases are rare, but if a criminal intentionally kills your loved one, he can be sued for wrongful death. The problem is, most criminals have no assets. So it may not always be worth pursuing a claim against a criminal.
Birmingham wrongful death lawyers see all kinds of cases and can advise you of the best course of action for your potential wrongful death case.
Your Wrongful Death Lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama Handles All Types of Cases
Although medical malpractice and car accidents may be the most common causes of wrongful death, there are dozens of types of wrongful death suits in Alabama. Some of the more common ones include:
- Car accidents – Thousands of people die in car accidents every year. Some of the deadliest accidents involve speeding and drunk driving. If a driver is negligent at the time of the accident, he may be liable for wrongful death.
- Truck accidents –By their very nature, truck accidents are dangerous. There are hundreds of deaths caused by truck accidents every year in Alabama. Usually, it’s the driver of the car who dies, not the truck driver. If this happens to your family, you may have a claim against the driver, his employer and other third parties. It depends on how the accident happened and who was involved.
- Motorcycle and bicycle accidents – These types of accidents can be deadly. There is nothing protecting bicycle and motorcycle riders. The only thing that stands between them and the other car is their plastic helmet. As long as the car driver is responsible for the accident, he may be liable for wrongful death.
- Medical malpractice – Medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States. We pay thousands of dollars every year to make sure doctors take care of us. It’s their job to make us well and to keep us safe. If a doctor prescribed you the wrong medication, you could die. Or, if he fails to diagnose a terminal illness, your loved one could die as a result. In these cases, you may have a claim against the hospital and the doctor.
- Product liability – There are so many dangerous products on the market, it’s hard to keep track. Most wrongful death cases are caused by manufacturing and design defects. The following products are the biggest culprits when it comes to product liability:
- Power tools and lawnmowers
- Children’s toys and games
- Dangerous drugs
Call and Speak With a Compassionate Wrongful Death Attorney Birmingham, Alabama
If you’ve lost a loved one to wrongful death, the last thing you’re worried about is a lawsuit. You’ll be busy planning funeral arrangements and trying to keep your family together. It’s the worst thing you’ll ever experience.
This is why you need a wrongful death lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama. They can handle the legal side of things while you focus on grieving. You shouldn’t have to worry about insurance claims and letters from attorneys. We have recovered millions of dollars for clients in wrongful death cases and would love to do the same for you.
Although Alabama doesn’t allow for anything more than punitive damages, you still have rights. The defendant needs to be punished for what they did. Wrongful death damages help to ensure that what happened to your family doesn’t happen to another family. Even if it wasn’t intentional, their actions resulted in the death of your loved one. They need to be held accountable.
Call us at (855)965-1688 and schedule your initial consultation with our office today. The consultation is absolutely free. You get the chance to ask any questions you may have. Your lawyer will review your case and let you know what it may be worth. The defendant will have a team of lawyers working for them. You need to have an attorney by your side today. Contact our offices today to get the best Birmingham wrongful death lawyer in your corner.
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