Losing a loved one can be a gut-wrenching experience. When the death of your loved one occurs due to an accident or the negligence of others, that feeling of loss only deepens.
Family members who have lost a loved one under these circumstances may be able to recover damages for their loss through a wrongful death lawsuit.
In Alabama, there is a limit to the type of compensation that a judge can award to wrongful death claims. This limitation sets wrongful death lawsuits apart from other forms of personal injury claims.
What is wrongful death?
Wrongful death is the death of a person due to a wrongful act of another person or entity.
A few examples of wrongful death incidents include:
- automobile accidents
- medical malpractice
- product defects
- nursing home neglect
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
In Alabama, although multiple people may be entitled to receive compensation for the death of a family member, only a personal representative of the deceased may file the actual lawsuit. In the case of the wrongful death of a minor, a custodial parent may file.
Compensation in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Most states award both compensatory and punitive damages for wrongful death. Alabama is unique because it only allows recovery for punitive damages. Let’s look at the difference between compensatory and punitive damages and why a court may award compensation in these cases.
To start, Attorney William Messervy explains how this distinction impacts wrongful death cases in Alabama.
Compensatory Damages: A court awards these damages for lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, medicine, nursing home care, etc. Note that Alabama awards compensatory damages for other types of personal injury claims such as car accidents.
Punitive Damages: A court awards punitive damages based on the defendant’s wrongdoing. Punitive damages are awarded to claimants to punish wrongdoers, preserve human life, and discourage future instances of the behavior that caused the death.
When determining financial compensation, a jury can only consider a few things. They can assess the act that caused the death, the defendant’s intent, and how much the punitive amount needs to be to keep the unfortunate tragedy from recurring.
If your loved one was a victim of wrongful death, our attorneys have experience with wrongful death law. We offer free consultations to help surviving family members determine if they should file a wrongful death lawsuit. Please contact the attorneys at Siniard, Timberlake & League. We can help.