What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Alabama?
In most cases, when a victim is injured due to someone else's negligence, they can file a personal injury claim. However, when the victim dies as a result of negligence or malicious intent, the closest surviving relative can file a wrongful death claim on their behalf.
In many states, the estate or personal representative of the victim can sue the responsible party for pecuniary or financial injuries. However, Alabama only allows plaintiffs to sue for punitive damages. The emphasis of the claim isn't placed on compensating the victim's family, but rather punishing the responsible party and preventing others from acting in a negligent or malicious manner.
Why do I need a lawyer for a wrongful death claim?
For a wrongful death case to exist, the plaintiff must first determine that a loved one's death was caused by negligence or wrongdoing from the responsible party. Wrongful death can be caused by:
- Medical malpractice: When it comes to caring for patients, doctors are held to a high standard. A patient's misdiagnosis or incorrect drug prescription can have fatal consequences, whether due to an overdose or incorrect treatment for a dangerous condition. In some cases, patients have died from negligent surgical mishaps. In a medical malpractice case, suing for wrongful death can be tricky. The plaintiff must prove that the doctor failed to responsibly treat the patient. In Alabama, financial losses and punitive damages can apply to a medical malpractice case that resulted in a patient's death. The statute of limitations for both cases is two years.
- Auto Accidents: A number of factors come into play when determining the cause of a fatal auto accident. Drunk driving, aggressive driving, criminal activity, and automobile defects are often the culprits of auto accidents that result in death. In a wrongful death case involving an auto accident, the closest surviving relative can sue the responsible party for punitive damages. If the accident resulted from a vehicle defect, a wrongful death claim can be filed against the manufacturer. If a driver was killed by a commercial vehicle, both the driver and their company can be held accountable.
- Workplace accidents and exposure to hazardous chemicals: Workplace injuries typically occur in fields involving physical labor, machinery, and the use of chemicals. A simple act of carelessness can result in a serious injury or death of a fellow worker or bystander. An inexperienced or careless worker can cause a deadly machine accident in a manufacturing plant. A construction company's failure to safeguard a worksite can result in a worker's death. A business that fails to meet the safety regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), can cause a chemical-related death. If a third party's negligence was responsible for your loved one's death on the job, we can help hold them accountable.
- Murder or other criminal activity: Violence, robbery, and other malicious acts can result in homicide. Whether or not the perpetrator intends to commit murder, they will likely face serious criminal charges and incarceration. However, the person who committed the crime is not always the target of a wrongful death lawsuit. If the criminal homicide happened as a result of negligent security or other unsafe conditions on the premises, the owner of the property where the crime took place can be held responsible as well.
- Nursing home abuse and neglect: When it comes to caring for our elders, nursing home staff are held to the highest expectations. Unfortunately, the negligence of inexperienced or careless staff results in far too many elder deaths. In cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect, proving negligence can be difficult. If a resident already suffered from a life-threatening condition, pinpointing what contributed to their death can be challenging. However, any evidence pointing to neglect or abuse can be used to hold the nursing home accountable.
The decedent's habits, lifestyle, and health are important factors that could affect a wrongful death case. That's why you need Braswell Murphy, LLC on your side. One of our personal injury lawyers will closely examine the facts and work to build a strong case.
How we can help
The rules for wrongful death lawsuits vary from state to state. In Alabama, simply being a family member of the deceased person doesn't grant you the right to file a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. Only the decedent's personal representative or closest surviving relative can file a claim in Alabama civil court. Additionally, the deceased person's estate is only allotted two years to file a claim, under the Alabama statutes of limitations. That's why it's so important to speak with an experienced attorney right away.
If a loved one died because of someone else's negligence or wrongdoing, contact Braswell Murphy, LLC. We have experience handling wrongful death claims, and we have taken such cases to the Supreme Court of Alabama. You contact us online or call (866) 408-0950 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.