Having a loved one pass away is devastating, especially if their death was due to someone else’s negligence. This loss can be even more overwhelming due to the financial hardship it could place you and your family in.
In the event of a wrongful death, each state has laws to help ease this financial burden. However, Alabama handles wrongful death lawsuits a little different than most states.
How Alabama differs from other states
Generally, when you file a wrongful death lawsuit, you can recover compensatory damages. Compensatory damages cover the cost of things like:
- Medical bills
- Funeral costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
Alabama does not award compensatory damages in a wrongful death case. Alabama only allows the court to award punitive damages. The court will award punitive damages based on the maliciousness or negligence of the defendant. Punitive damages are meant to deter and limit the negligent behavior that cost someone their life.
When most states award damages, the compensation usually goes directly to the estate of the deceased. In Alabama, this process works a little different. All awards are passed down based on the state’s intestacy succession laws. What you inherit is dependent on if your spouse has living parents or children. If your spouse had neither, then you will inherit all punitive damages awarded. Otherwise, all the compensation awarded will be split.
If the negligence of another person caused you to lose a loved one, you could have a wrongful death case. Speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you recover compensation for any punitive damages. Your attorney will understand Alabama’s unique laws around wrongful death lawsuits and may be able to maximize the damages awarded to you and your family.