Do You Have Cause To File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit After An Auto Accident?
Although advances in technology have made driving safer than ever, thousands of people perish due to the negligence and recklessness of other drivers on the road each year. If you’ve lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident, our attorneys at Moore Law Firm can help you navigate the complexities of Alabama law and determine whether you are entitled to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Elements Of A Wrongful Death Claim
When pursuing a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must prove that someone else’s negligence caused the accident that resulted in the person’s death. For example, drivers must follow all traffic laws and drive responsibly because they owe a duty of care to other people on the road. In a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must show how the negligent driver’s breach of duty of care led to the victim’s death.
Common causes of car accidents that can lead to serious injuries and death include:
- Distracted driving
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence
- Reckless driving
- Truck driver fatigue
- Car manufacturing defects
Alabama’s Wrongful Death Statute
There are specific requirements that must be met when filing a wrongful death claim in Alabama. There is a two-year statute of limitations, and unlike many other states, a wrongful death lawsuit cannot be brought by just any immediate family member in Alabama — it can only be initiated by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. In addition, a wrongful death claim cannot be filed in Alabama if the person died in another state. If your loved one was killed in a motor vehicle accident outside Alabama borders, a wrongful death claim must be filed in that state.
In most states, plaintiffs can pursue compensatory damages if they have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence. In Alabama, only punitive damages are awarded in wrongful death cases. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate plaintiffs — they are designed to punish those who have acted negligently and to deter others from committing similar acts.
Because plaintiffs are only allowed to pursue punitive damages in wrongful death lawsuits, evidence of the deceased’s pain and suffering is generally inadmissible in an Alabama wrongful death lawsuit. However, if a personal injury lawsuit was filed while the victim was still alive, evidence of their pain and suffering may be admissible in a wrongful death case, which can add a significant amount to any punitive damages that may be awarded. These complex details and elements of wrongful death claims are challenging to navigate, so it’s vital to seek the counsel of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can advise you on the best course of action to recover compensation for the loss of your loved one.
If you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one and you are wondering whether you’re entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit, call Moore Law Firm at 251-445-7602 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.