Wrongful death claims typically stem from a situation where a person or business directly causes the death of an individual. Sometimes, a person gets injured or killed as a result of someone not complying with the law. Other times, it is negligence or a failure to consider consequences that results in tragedy.

In general, surviving dependent family members such as spouses, children and parents may have the right to bring a wrongful death claim under Alabama law. Do punitive damages often play a role in Alabama wrongful death claims?

Alabama sometimes allows plaintiffs to seek punitive damages

Most personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits focus their efforts on recovering the costs caused by someone’s negligence or misconduct. People often ask the court to award them compensation for medical bills or even lost wages. These are provable losses with direct financial values.

However, in certain circumstances, the court can award additional compensation to the surviving dependents of the victim by ordering punitive damages. Typically, because punitive damages are meant to punish the responsible party rather than compensate or protect the victims, the Alabama courts only award them if the situation involves gross negligence or intentional illegal activity. The more egregious the behavior of the defendant is, the more likely the courts will be to award punitive damages.

Seeking punitive damages can be a way to seek justice, especially if the state has not prosecuted the individual responsible for the death of your loved one. Punitive damages can help your family while also creating a real consequence for the party who caused a death through their wrongful acts or negligence.

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