Wrongful Death

Alabama Wrongful Death Lawyers   Alabama Negligent Death Claims Lawyers   Alabama Death Claims Lawyers

When someone is killed as a result of the wrongful conduct of another person, family members need experienced counsel to advise them and to make sure the person or company responsible is held accountable for their loss.


Alabama wrongful death claims are distinctively different from those in any other state. One of these differences is that damages in an Alabama wrongful death case are purely punitive. In other words, unlike other states where you are required to prove the value of the life, none of this evidence is used in Alabama wrongful death cases. In fact, a person’s income, age, job, or trade has nothing to do with the value of a wrongful death case in Alabama. Alabama courts have found that the paramount purpose of the wrongful death statutes is the preservation of human life.


Another difference in our law is that only a personal representative appointed by the court can bring a wrongful death suit. Therefore, a personal representative must be appointed by appropriate court order before a wrongful death action can be filed.


Another interesting point about Alabama wrongful death cases is that damages recovered in a wrongful death action do not become a part of the deceased’s estate, and are not subject to the debts or liabilities of the estate. It is not uncommon for health care providers to attempt to make a claim against the proceeds of a wrongful death law suit. The law is clear that money received from a wrongful death suit is not available for the payment of the decedent’s debts including debts incurred just prior to the death (for example, hospital expenses, health care insurance subrogation interest, funeral expenses, etc.).


In Alabama, if a person has an accident and dies before a lawsuit is filed, their claim for compensatory damages related to the accident dies with them.  In that situation, only a wrongful death claim could be filed for punitive damages as a result of the accident.  If the lawsuit is filed before death, it can continue after death and can be amended to add a Wrongful Death claim.


Finally, whereas in most states punitive damage awards are taxable, in an Alabama death case they are not.  This only applies to Alabama Wrongful Death damages, however.  A punitive award in other types of cases would be taxable.  The IRS views Alabama Wrongful Death awards differently and there is a specific exemption in the Internal Revenue Code that applies.  Of course, you should also consult tax professionals with regard to tax issues.


Ken has handled many wrongful death claims throughout the state and has received a number of multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for the families of deceases victims. If you feel that your loved one was wrongfully caused to die, please contact us for a confidential, no-cost, no-obligation legal consultation.

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