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birmingham wrongful death lawyer

The wrongful death of a loved one can leave you reeling from the loss. Family members of the victims of wrongful death often deeply feel the absence or their loved ones. It is perfectly natural and important to take time to grieve. However, you should also be aware that legal action can also play a role in regaining a sense of normalcy in the case of wrongful death.

The Birmingham, Alabama wrongful death lawyers at Wettermark Keith are here to be your legal guides during this difficult time. We understand your pain and are here to help you along the way.

How to Know If You Have Grounds for a Wrongful Death Claim

Wrongful death is the fatal result of the action or inaction of another person. Some people view wrongful death lawsuits as the same as criminal prosecution for death. However, this is not the case. Wrongful death pursuits involve seeking of justice for an accidental death. It is often related to other parts of personal injury law, which includes car accidents, truck accidents, medical malpractice, slip and falls, defective products, and other forms of negligence.

Anyone who loses a loved one due to external circumstances may have a case for wrongful death.

In examining the basic details of the case, lawyers can determine if you have a wrongful death claim. For instance, if it was clear that your loved one had put themselves in harm’s way by not taking all required safety precautions, such as wearing a seatbelt, you will likely not have a case for wrongful death. 

Keep reading to learn more about wrongful death cases and why you should call a wrongful death attorney in Birmingham, Alabama

Who Can Claim Wrongful Death in Alabama

In many states, there is a long list of people who are and aren’t eligible to file a wrongful death suit. The people who are eligible usually include immediate family members or close friends of the deceased. However, in Alabama, there is only one person who can claim wrongful death: The representative of the deceased’s estate. 

It is important to note that the person claiming wrongful death may not be the same as the person who receives compensation for the death. In Alabama, the only people eligible for the settlement are the heirs of the deceased. These heirs are often children, spouses, or other family members.

However, the representative of the estate is not always heirs.  For instance, if a single father of two minors is the victim, his mother may choose to be the representative. This can be the case even though his children are his heirs.

There are a number of reasons different parties may want to be the personal representative of the estate. Many people can fill this role, but becoming the representative of the estate is an entirely different process that is best managed by Birmingham wrongful death lawyers.

Proving a Wrongful Death Claim

Getting justice for wrongful death takes more than just explaining how it happened. A case must prove 4 key elements to be settled.

First of all, a wrongful death lawyer must prove that the decedent was owed a duty of care by the person you’re bringing the case against. If the accident was caused by a slip and fall, for instance, the responsible party might be the property owner. Someone who is not directly responsible, therefore, cannot be blamed, such as a random passerby.

Secondly, you must prove that the person responsible neglected their duty of care. In the example case used above, that neglect might possibly be in the form of a broken stair step or an unmarked wet floor. Neglect of duty of care doesn’t always mean inaction, however. Sometimes, a person’s actions are to blame, like reckless driving.

Third, your case should maintain that the person’s action or inaction directly caused the decedent’s accident. For example, you cannot say that a property owner’s wet floor resulted in your loved one’s death if the wet floor was on the other side of the building. Proving a sufficient link between the negligence and the result is key to a successful case.

Finally, you must prove that the accident itself is what caused the wrongful death. Using our previous example, you cannot say that your loved one passed due to a slip and fall if your loved one fell but then had a fatal heart attack. The heart attack is a result beyond anyone’s control. But if the person died as a result of his or her injuries, the slip and fall is clearly the only reason for the person’s untimely death.

Wrongful Death Lawyers in Birmingham

At Wettermark Keith, we have walked through wrongful death many times with many families. We’re thankful that our law firm has been of help to so many, but we also have seen firsthand the pain wrongful death causes to those who are left behind.

Regardless of how tough it is to see our clients grieving, we are passionate about the wrongful death cases we represent because we know it’s what’s right for each person we work for. If you’re experiencing the wrongful death of a loved one, talk to one of our Birmingham wrongful death lawyers today for a no-pressure, free consultation.

Our lawyers are ready to discuss the different ways we can help. 

Frequently Asked Wrongful Death Questions

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

As with most legal details, how wrongful death compensatory damages are paid out depends on the state where the case is being handled. In the state of Alabama, as we’ve discussed earlier, the settlement is paid to the heir of the deceased, regardless of who the representative of the estate is. Who the heir is also depends on the decedent’s family structure, but essentially will go to spouse and children first, then siblings and parents if the decedent had neither spouse nor children. Payments of any legal services hired during the process will also likely come from this final settlement.

Are Wrongful Death Settlements Taxable?

No. Unlike many other areas of personal injury law, neither Alabama nor federal law taxes the settlements of a wrongful death case.

How Much Is a Wrongful Death Case Worth?

We encourage you to think differently about the situation. Wrongful death settlements are intended to cover the immense cost of the loss of a loved one. These losses may include loss of wages for your family and the sadness of no longer having them in your life. The life of your loved one was extremely valuable, and the worth of a wrongful death case is reflected as such.

Be mindful that wrongful death cases have a worth beyond offering monetary compensation. For example, these settlements can provide justice and peace of mind. If you are considering pursuing a wrongful death case, then talk to one of our Birmingham wrongful death attorneys today. The guidance of a lawyer is essential for ensuring a better result for your case. 

What’s the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Manslaughter?

The main difference is that wrongful death is a civil case and manslaughter is a criminal case. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff does not necessarily try to punish the at-fault party. Instead, they seek justice and compensation for their punitive damages. 

A manslaughter case does seek to punish the at-fault party, sometimes including punishments beyond financial compensation. Additionally, manslaughter often indicates circumstances where the at-fault party had a more direct role to play in the person’s death.

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