In the State of Alabama, wrongful death refers to a situation where an individual dies as a result of someone else’s omission, wrongful act, or negligence. A death that results from a homicide, such as a vehicular homicide (sometimes charged as involuntary manslaughter), can potentially lead to a wrongful death claim.
In Alabama, the deceased individual’s estate can file a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault individual or entity. Any damages which are recovered as part of an Alabama wrongful death lawsuit go to the deceased individual’s heirs at law, rather than to the estate. This is true even if the deceased individual has left a will in place.
Under Alabama law, wrongful death claims and lawsuits in the state are handled very differently than in other jurisdictions. If you are interested in pursuing a wrongful death claim against an at-fault individual, the Huntsville wrongful death attorneys at Cloud, Ryan & Rouse are ready to assist.
Proving a wrongful death claim or lawsuit can be a difficult task. This is due, in part, to the fact that the deceased individual is no longer available to testify about how the accident occurred and the injuries he or she suffered.
In any Alabama wrongful death claim, the claimant has the burden of proof. In order to prevail, the claimant must demonstrate that the at-fault individual owed the decedent a duty of reasonable care, that he or she breached that duty of reasonable care, and that as a result, the decedent passed away.
Damages in Alabama wrongful death cases are different than those in other jurisdictions throughout the country. In most other jurisdictions, a wrongful death claimant can pursue compensatory damages. These damages may include compensation for the decedent’s future lost earnings, as well as for the loss of care or companionship of the decedent.
In Alabama, wrongful death damages do not work this way. Instead, claimants are only eligible to pursue punitive damages in a wrongful death action. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant wrongdoer for his or her actions. Another purpose of punitive damages is to deter other individuals from committing similar wrongdoing in the future.
The amount of a punitive damages award depends largely upon the seriousness of the underlying offense. Moreover, the state of Alabama imposes a $1,500,000 cap on punitive damage awards. Also, if you are suing the government as part of a wrongful death claim in Alabama, the damage cap is $100,000. An experienced wrongful death attorney in Huntsville can help you to maximize the settlement or verdict potential of your wrongful death claim.
The knowledgeable legal team at Cloud, Ryan & Rouse is ready to assist you with pursuing a wrongful death claim on your behalf. For a free case evaluation and legal consultation with a knowledgeable Huntsville wrongful death lawyer, please call us today at (256) 801-1000 or contact us online.
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