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How Quickly Can You Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Serving Birmingham and the Metro area
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and confused after the death of a loved one. It is one of the most difficult experiences a family can endure, especially if it is unexpected or sudden. Losing a loved one can be even more challenging to recover from when a wrongful death is involved.
Wrongful death claims involve an untimely death that is caused by the negligence of another person or entity. In such cases, it may be necessary to file a wrongful death claim to seek justice and hold the responsible parties accountable.
At Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann, P.C, we understand the deeply emotional nature of wrongful death cases. We believe seeking legal help can provide tremendous healing and closure during such trying times.
Since 1986, we have helped numerous families who have been affected by wrongful death and the negligence of others. Contact us today at (205) 850-4463 if you need assistance with a wrongful death lawsuit. We will assign you an experienced Birmingham wrongful death lawyer who will work closely with you on your case.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Alabama defines “wrongful death” as any death that is caused by the “wrongful act, omission, or negligence” of another. This is a special type of claim in that the injured person is only able to seek compensation from the party that caused them harm and death by their personal representative.
Alabama’s Wrongful Death Statute allows a representative of the deceased person to file a lawsuit on their behalf. The losses must be paid by the negligent party directly to the victim’s estate.
The statute also allows a wrongful death claim to be brought in a civil court even if the defendant is not facing criminal charges for the person’s death.
Although originally based on common law principles, wrongful death cases are now governed by the Alabama Wrongful Death Statute. If you’d like to read the text, you can view it at Alabama Code § 6-5-410 (1975).
Alabama’s Wrongful Death Statute is complex and unique compared to other states’ statutes. Contact a wrongful death lawyer if you have any questions about how these laws affect your family’s claim.
Wrongful death claims are common aspects of cases involving car accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, product liability, defective medical devices, pharmaceutical drugs, nursing home abuse, and various other legal claims.
How Does a Lawyer Prove Wrongful Death?
If you and your family decide to move forward with a wrongful death claim, it can help tremendously to understand how wrongful death is proven. Understanding these basic elements can greatly help you cooperate with the lawyer as they ask you questions about your case.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, your attorney will need to provide the court with evidence regarding the following points:
- The other party had a duty of care toward your loved one: For instance, a surgeon has a duty to adhere to medical standards when performing a surgery. Or the driver of a motor vehicle has a duty to adhere to the rules of the road when driving a commercial vehicle or car.
- The other party failed to uphold their duty of care: If the surgeon fails to follow proper surgery protocol, it could be considered a breach of their duty of care.
- The other party’s actions caused your loved one’s death: If by failing to follow their duty of care, the surgeon’s actions directly caused the death, you may have a case for wrongful death based on negligence and medical malpractice.
A Birmingham wrongful death lawyer will be able to gather and present evidence that helps prove these points in a court of law. Such evidence may include:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Witness testimony
- Pictures and video footage
- Statements from medical experts
Proving wrongful death is particularly difficult without a lawyer because the victim is not there to testify about what happened to them.
However, a skilled attorney will be able to use the available evidence to build a strong case that proves the wrongdoer’s negligence.
The wrongful death lawyers at Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann, P.C. have decades of experience crafting persuasive cases based on the evidence. Contact us today at (205) 850-4463 to speak with a wrongful death lawyer who can advise you of your legal rights.
Who may file a wrongful death claim?
Under Alabama law, a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by the personal representative of the decedent when a person is killed as the result of negligence, wantonness, or some other wrongful conduct. An example of this is suffering a car accident death due to someone else’s negligence.
Wrongful death claims must be brought by the decedent’s personal representative unless the death involves a minor child. In this case, the custodial parent can bring the lawsuit.
A representative may be named as such under the deceased’s last will and testament. In the event the decedent did not have a will, the representative can be appointed by the court.
What Are Notable Wrongful Death Settlements Achieved by Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann
Our case results speak for themselves and are the product of our many years of experience and dedication to our clients. A few notable settlements include:
$3.5 Million Verdict for a Wrongful Death Claim
Our attorneys obtained a favorable verdict on behalf of the family of a patient who failed to get proper medical treatment in a timely manner. A jury returned a verdict in favor of the decedent’s estate and awarded $3.5 million.
$1.6 Million Verdict in a Product Defect Lawsuit
The attorneys at Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann obtained a $1.6 million verdict for a man who was severely injured by a defective industrial saw.
What Kind of Damages Are Awarded In a Wrongful Death Claim?
Alabama laws do not allow compensatory damages, which usually cover wrongful death expenses like medical costs or funeral and burial expenses. The state’s laws allow only punitive damages to be recovered in a wrongful death claim, which are intended to punish the liable party for their actions.
Alabama is the only state with this type of damages arrangement for wrongful death lawsuits, as most other states allow compensatory damages. The reasoning behind this is to focus on punishing the defendant for their negligent conduct and discouraging similar actions from being repeated in the future, both by the defendant and others.
Punitive damages are important and can still represent a significant amount of damages that are paid directly to the heirs of the deceased person. Punitive damages are not always recoverable in Alabama personal injury cases, but they are the only type of damages allowed if the negligent conduct results in death.
What Should You Look For In Wrongful Death Lawyer?
If you or someone you know is searching for the best lawyer to handle a wrongful death claim, first you should know our condolences go out to the surviving members of the family. Taking the steps to speak with a lawyer and learn about your legal rights is a good decision, and finding the best lawyer for a wrongful death claim is not difficult.
First, know that it is smart to speak with multiple lawyers. Hiring a lawyer is a very personal experience on a matter that impacts the family. Get to know each lawyer and notice how much time the lawyer spends asking questions and learning about the facts as well as how the family has been impacted.
Second, a good wrongful death lawyer should be able to discuss experiences of similar situations filing wrongful death lawsuits in Alabama. While many lawyers will accept a wrongful death case, that does not mean they have experience. In fact, some lawyers may do criminal defense or handle probate cases such as estate planning, but this is not the same practice area as wrongful death law.
Third, a wrongful death trial lawyer should welcome all of your questions prior to being hired and should not be pushy. Like any profession, a professional wants to be hired, and retaining a wrongful death lawyer does solidify the attorney-client relationship. However, during consultations and follow-up questions, your conversations with that lawyer are protected under the attorney/client confidentiality privilege. This means that the lawyer you speak with does not have to disclose or discuss your case with anyone at any time. If you call a law firm and speak with the “intake” department who is not a wrongful death attorney, and they insist you must sign a retainer agreement, this may be a cause for concern. Take your time and feel comfortable about the lawyer you decide to hire.
As a final note, a wrongful death claim is about more than a lawsuit or financial payout, it is about holding a negligent party accountable so the same situation does not occur again. Taking these steps in hiring a lawyer can bring change and help make the situation safer for others. Just remember there is a statute of limitations of two years from the person’s death to file a claim, however delaying speaking with a lawyer can lead to a loss of evidence and make the claim more difficult.
If you have any questions we welcome you to contact our firm for a free consultation at no cost. While our firm has an over 30-year history of helping families who have suffered a loss, if for any reason we can not assist you we will refer you to a lawyer or law firm within our network that is trusted and has a track record of success on behalf of their clients regardless of the city or state you reside.
How Can a Wrongful Death Attorney Help You?
The pain, grief, and emotional trauma from losing a loved one can be overwhelming. On top of that, having to deal with legal issues can create added burdens and stress for the surviving family and loved ones.
At Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann, P.C., we understand how difficult it can be to face such situations. We have extensive experience handling wrongful death cases and can help place you on the right path for recovery and justice.
Contact us today at (205) 850-4463 for a free, no-obligation consultation where you can speak with us freely and learn about your legal rights and options. Our attorneys are on hand to guide you through the process and obtain what your family deserves.
Wrongful Death FAQs
What is the Filing Deadline for a Wrongful Death Claim?
In most cases, wrongful death claims in Alabama have a two-year statute of limitations. This means that the claim must be filed within two years after the person’s death; after that time period, the case can no longer be pursued.
Thus, it’s important to contact a lawyer right away if you believe you have a claim, so you don’t miss your opportunity to properly investigate and file with the court.
In certain cases, specific factors can affect the statute of limitations and the filing deadline. For instance, if doctors cannot determine the person’s death for several weeks or months, the statute of limitations may be extended.
Navigating the complex system of wrongful death laws will be difficult without legal representation. Various procedural issues can arise, and may also overlap with criminal issues. It’s important to get guidance from a Birmingham wrongful death lawyer who can help handle such claims.
How long does it take to settle wrongful death claims?
There is really no standard length for wrongful death claims. Each case is unique and may focus on different aspects of Alabama’s wrongful death statute. Wrongful death claims can take anywhere from several months to a year or even longer.
Compared to conventional personal injury cases, wrongful death cases may involve longer time frames since the victim is not there to testify.
What is the difference between a wrongful death claim and “survival of claim”?
Wrongful death refers to instances where a person’s negligent actions cause the death of another person. In contrast, “survival of claim” refers to cases where a person is injured in an accident, but later dies before they can file a personal injury lawsuit.
Here, the question is whether their injury claim “survives” — that is, whether the injury claim can still be pursued after they pass away. This is a complex subject also covered by Alabama Code § 6-5-462. It depends on many factors, for instance, whether their later death was related to the accident.
Survival of claim issues are best handled by a competent wrongful death lawyer who can sort out the different elements involved. Get in touch with a lawyer at (205) 850-4463 for help with survival of claim or other related issues.
How can an experienced wrongful death lawyer help?
Preparing for a wrongful death lawsuit can be draining and daunting. A qualified lawyer can help relieve much of the burden by gathering witness statements, documents, records, and other evidence that will be needed to support your case.
A wrongful death attorney can also explain how Alabama laws may affect your case, and what your rights and options are under those laws. An attorney can review both the evidence and the laws to obtain the most favorable outcome for your family in a court of law.
If your family has been affected by a wrongful death, contact us at Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann, P.C. at (205) 850-4463. We will handle these matters for you, so you can focus on attending to your family and loved ones when they need you the most.
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