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SOUTHERN MED LAW

• Forever Pursuing Justice•

Birmingham, AL Wrongful Death Lawyers

Losing a loved one is always devastating. When their death is caused by another person’s negligence or wrongful actions, the grief is compounded by a sense of injustice. Alabama law provides a path for families to seek both justice and some measure of compensation through wrongful death lawsuits. If you’ve lost someone in Birmingham or the surrounding area due to the negligence or intentional harm of others, understanding your rights is the first step toward potential closure and healing.

Wrongful Death

At Southern Med Law, our attorneys have extensive experience representing Alabama families in wrongful death claims involving car accidents, workplace injuries, dangerous premises, defective products, and medical malpractice. Our goal is to aggressively pursue justice while providing compassionate guidance during an incredibly difficult time.

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What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Alabama?

Under Alabama law, a wrongful death claim arises when someone dies due to the negligence, recklessness, carelessness, or intentional acts of another person or company. Wrongful death cases our firm handles include:

  • Auto Crashes: Tragically, the Birmingham area sees hundreds of traffic crash fatalities every year. Speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, and other forms of negligence can have deadly consequences.
  • Workplace Injuries: Preventable accidents on construction sites, warehouses, manufacturing plants, and other worksites sadly claim many lives when companies fail to follow safety procedures.
  • Premises Liability: Property owners in Alabama have a responsibility to maintain safe conditions to prevent slip-and-falls, trip hazards, inadequate security, swimming pool accidents, and other risks that can prove fatal.
  • Defective Products: When a dangerous consumer product or medical device causes death, product manufacturers can be held accountable.
  • Medical Malpractice: Healthcare providers who fail to meet reasonable standards of care – through misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication mistakes, childbirth complications, and more – may be liable for wrongful death if their actions result in a patient’s death.
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Medical Malpractice & Wrongful Death

Medical malpractice wrongful death cases require a careful understanding of complex health issues and records. At Southern Med Law, our attorneys have a unique advantage – our founding partner Dr. François Blaudeau is both an experienced trial lawyer and a practicing OB-GYN surgeon. His medical expertise allows us to thoroughly analyze medical facts and build strong arguments demonstrating negligence.

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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Alabama?

Alabama’s wrongful death statute designates strict limits on legal standing to file a claim. Only a court-appointed personal representative of the deceased person’s estate has the ability to pursue litigation.

Typically, the personal representative is a close surviving family member, such as a spouse, parent, adult child, or sibling. However, the appointment process through probate court can become complex if the deceased did not have a will clearly designating an executor. Without a will, the court must evaluate and determine the priority order of potential representatives based on their legal relationship to the deceased.

The urgent need to designate a personal representative adds pressure on grieving families. Alabama imposes a rigid two-year statute of limitations to file a wrongful death suit. This narrows the window to complete the appointment process before claim rights expire. Families may need to petition the probate court quickly and strategically if there are multiple potential candidates for personal representative or complications around the deceased’s estate.

Once appointed, the personal representative assumes formal legal duties to act in the best interests of beneficiaries. This includes assessing and pursuing a wrongful death claim if appropriate. Given Alabama’s strict eligibility rules, no one else can file suit – even if they are a direct surviving victim like a spouse or child. Therefore, families may wish to consult a probate attorney to ensure the ideal candidate applies for a representative appointment with sufficient time to subsequently file litigation before the two-year deadline.

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Recovering Damages in Alabama Wrongful Death Cases

Alabama stands apart from most other states by strictly limiting financial recovery to punitive damages in wrongful death litigation. Unlike compensatory damages meant to repay victims’ families for their loss, punitive awards are focused solely on punishing defendants for egregious misconduct.

Punitive damages are imposed to penalize defendants for behavior that is found to be intentional, malicious, grossly negligent, or done with a reckless disregard for human life and safety. Because the deceased victim cannot be compensated, the only legal recourse is to impose harsh enough monetary penalties to punish wrongdoers and deter similar conduct that could claim more lives.

Alabama sets an extremely high bar to warrant punitive damages. Plaintiffs must demonstrate the at-fault party’s actions showed an utter lack of care or conscious indifference to the risk of death or serious injury. Judges and juries weigh the degree of recklessness and callousness that directly contributed to the death.

Unlike personal injury cases that rely more heavily on compensatory awards, successful wrongful death suits in Alabama hinge on skilled attorneys making compelling arguments for punitive damages warranted by the extreme misconduct involved. Given these rigid constraints, successfully litigating an Alabama wrongful death case requires proven attorney expertise.

At Southern Med Law, our track record of results provides the confidence we can build a compelling claim resulting in punitive damages. Familiarity with Alabama’s strict interpretation of wrongful death law allows us to craft arguments demonstrating egregious enough behavior to warrant punishment costs.

Our attorneys’ combined legal and medical knowledge offers additional strategic advantages with these types of cases. As a medical doctor who also holds a law degree and represents patients, Dr. Blaudeau provides unique insights. His firsthand experience allows us to build strong arguments demonstrating medical malpractice in wrongful death litigation when it occurs.

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Support & Guidance After Losing a Loved One

No amount of money can ever replace someone you love. The legal process itself can worsen emotional wounds. Our legal team will be by your side providing compassionate support and guidance at every step during an incredibly painful time. We take pride in not only achieving justice for victims but also counseling grieving clients with care and empathy.

At Southern Med Law, we offer free, no-obligation case evaluations to grieving families considering wrongful death claims in Birmingham or elsewhere statewide. Contact us today to discuss your options in complete confidence. No one should face the compounding injustice of losing a loved one due to another’s reckless or negligent actions without holding them accountable. We can help you seek rightful compensation under Alabama law.