Proving a Wrongful Death Claim
Losing a loved one is more than shocking, it is devastating. Whether you lost a parent, spouse, or child in an accident, you are forced to grieve and accept a new reality. When your loved one’s death is the result of another person’s actions, the situation is even harder to accept. Under Alabama law, you may have the right to file a wrongful death claim. To learn more about this option, contact our Alabama wrongful death attorneys at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. Call us today at 205-933-1500.
Alabama’s Wrongful Death Law
A wrongful death claim may be available to your loved one’s estate if your spouse, child, or parent’s death was the result of another person’s wrongful act, omission, or negligence. In general, this claim is similar to a personal injury claim. However, instead of the injured party moving forward with a lawsuit based on negligence, the injured party’s estate files suit for the same reason.
In Alabama, a wrongful death claim is intended to punish the wrongdoer, whether or not that other person or business was charged with or convicted of a crime. A wrongful death claim enables your loved one’s family to seek punitive damages. This compensation not only penalizes the person at fault, but also enable the estate to cover expenses related to your relative’s death, like medical and burial costs. However, while this financial recovery can help pay the bills, it is not intended to be compensatory.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit will not bring your loved one back and it may not solve all of your financial issues. However, it can hold the negligent person responsible, offering you and your family members justice and some financial assistance.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
If you are interested in a wrongful death claim after you lose a spouse, parent, or child, contact our wrongful death attorneys at at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. right away. Only the personal representative of a deceased individual’s estate can file a wrongful death claim against another person or business. Because of this, wrongful death claims are usually wrapped up in the probate process.
If you were the decedent’s spouse, parent, or adult child, you may be appointed the representative have the power to make this decision. If you are not, however, you will need to discuss this legal option with that individual. The representative has two years to decide to file.
Proving Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim
If you and your family decide to move forward with a wrongful death claim, you must understand the burden rests on your shoulders to prove the other party acted wrongfully in some way. This requires gathering evidence that you can provide to the court of:
- The other party’s duty of care toward your loved one. The other party’s specific duty of care will depend on the relationship between them and your loved one. However, this duty does not depend on their knowing each other. Even strangers can have a duty of care toward one another. For instance, all drivers have to maintain a certain standard of care while behind the wheel.
- The other party failed to uphold the duty of care. You will need evidence of what the other party’s actions – or inactions – were compared to what they should have been in order to uphold their duty of care. This can be a difficult aspect of the case, particularly if it is a matter of debate how the other party should have behaved in the circumstances.
- The other party’s actions caused your loved one’s death. You must have evidence that the other party’s actions led to your loved one’s death. Depending on the situation, the connection may be clear. However, if weeks or months passed between the accident and your relative’s passing, then it may become more difficult to establish the connection. The other party may try to blame other, intervening circumstances.
Gathering Evidence to Prove Wrongful Acts
Gathering enough evidence to prove someone acted wrongfully and caused a death can be difficult. Your loved one is not there to testify about what happened. In most situations, this means the most essential witness is unavailable. Instead, you must rely on other types of direct and circumstantial evidence to prove the other party’s wrongful act, omission, or negligence. This can include but is not limited to:
- Police reports
- Witness testimony
- Your loved one’s medical records
- Medical expert’s testimony
- Other expert’s testimony
- Pictures of the accident
- Video footage of the accident
Contact Our Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
If you lost your spouse, child, parent, or another relative in an unexpected accident, contact us at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. as soon as possible. We can explain how wrongful death claims work in Alabama and whether it is in your or whoever is appointed the representative’s best interests to move forward with a suit. If this option is right for your family, then we are prepared to undertake a detailed investigation into your loved one’s death and the other party’s negligence.
To learn more about wrongful death claims and how we can help, contact our wrongful death attorneys at 205-933-1500. If your family member or loved one was killed in a fatal accident due to no fault of their own, our Alabama personal injury law firm can answer any questions you may have. With offices in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, and Montgomery, our attorneys can help you at a location nearest you.