Birmingham, AL, Wrongful Death Attorney
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is always difficult, and even more so in the event of wrongful death. If you suspect that your loved one died due to another party’s negligence, give us at the Birmingham law firm of McCallum, Hoaglund & McCallum, LLP a call today at (205) 824-7767 to schedule a free consultation.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death refers to an accidental fatality resulting from the actions (or inactions) of another party. The victim’s family may be able to claim damages from the negligent party if they can prove their case. While monetary compensation may not ease the emotional trauma of the loss, it can offer closure and a feeling of justice served for the bereaved family.
Having a wrongful death attorney on your side lets you focus on recovering from your loss while we do all the hard work associated with filing a wrongful death case.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
According to Alabama law, only the deceased person’s estate or the custodial parent of a minor can file a wrongful death action. That means that the surviving spouse needs to open an estate in probate court (if not already done) to file the claim.
It’s also important to note that Alabama has a statute of limitations of two years from the death of the person for wrongful death claims. If you try to file a claim after two years, the court won’t even look at it, making it vital that you work with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after the death.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Wrongful death refers to any fatal accident caused by someone else’s negligence, but certain types of incidents that are more often causes of wrongful death suits. These include:
- Workplace accidents
- Passenger vehicle crashes
- Truck crashes
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Slip and falls
- Nursing home neglect or abuse
Plaintiffs can pursue wrongful death claims against individuals, businesses, or even governmental organizations or agencies, as long as they can prove that negligence led to the individual’s death.
The Aspects of a Wrongful Death Case
As in most civil claims, the plaintiff must prove their claim to receive damages for wrongful death. Doing so requires providing evidence that the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim, that they failed to uphold their duty of care, and that this breach led to the death of the victim.
A wrongful death law firm will use expert witnesses, police reports, subject matter experts, and any other evidence sources to prove each of these aspects.
Duty of Care
A duty of care refers to the actions that an individual must take to protect others from harm. For instance, every driver on the road has a duty of care to obey road rules to prevent accidents. Workplaces have a duty of care to ensure that their premises are safe for visitors and employees by identifying potential hazards and mitigating or removing them before they can do harm.
Breach of Duty
Breach of duty is when an individual, business, or organization fails to uphold its duty of care. In the examples above, a driver breaches their duty when they disobey road rules, while workplaces perform a breach if they fail to address hazards promptly.
It isn’t enough to simply prove that the defendant was negligent; the plaintiff also needs to show that this breach of duty directly resulted in the victim’s injuries and death.
For instance, if a driver runs a red light at an intersection and a person on another street slips and falls, they can’t blame the driver for their injuries, despite the fact that the driver breached their duty of care. However, if the driver ran a red light and hit a pedestrian, it’s clear that this breach of duty resulted in the accident.
Most states allow for compensatory damages in wrongful death cases, which means that family members can receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, emotional trauma, and loss of companionship. Alabama works differently and only awards punitive damages in wrongful death cases.
Punitive damages refer to damages that aim to punish the negligent party and discourage others from the same action. This means that the value of the claim depends more on the defendant’s actions than on the victim’s circumstances.
Another notable aspect of Alabama’s wrongful death damages is that the deceased’s heirs receive the damages instead of the deceased’s estate.
Working with a Wrongful Death Attorney
Most families want to spend the time after a loved one’s death in mourning and recovery. Unfortunately, this is also the best time to hire a wrongful death attorney. It gives the law firm enough time to compile a strong case before the statute of limitations expires, but it also ensures that the investigative team can gather all the evidence it needs in a timely manner.
Having an attorney on your side is essential for protecting your rights during this difficult time. Insurance companies will often take proactive measures to settle the case quickly or use underhanded tactics to make it extremely challenging to file a wrongful death claim.
At McCallum, Hoaglund & McCallum, we believe in a compassionate and personalized approach to each case. We will work with you and your family to thoroughly document and investigate the circumstances behind the accident and pursue a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If necessary, we’ll move forward with legal action to obtain a reasonable settlement if the insurance company isn’t willing to negotiate.
As we handle all of these matters on your behalf, you can focus on mourning the deceased and dealing with their loss. While we provide proactive communication so you will always know what your options are, we do as much work as possible “behind the scenes,” letting you dedicate your time to more important matters.
If you suspect your loved one died due to someone else’s negligence and want to pursue a wrongful death action, don’t hesitate to contact us at McCallum, Hoaglund & McCallum, LLP, at (205) 824-7767 to schedule a free consultation. We’ve helped hundreds of Birmingham residents protect their rights and those of their loved ones, and we look forward to doing the same with you.
LaBella S. McCallum
Has nearly four decades of courtroom experience.
Charles A. McCallum, III
Knows business issues, big and small.