Alabama Fatal Car Accidents: The Facts

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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The consequences of a fatal car accident are truly devastating to everyone involved. The loss of a life is difficult to put a price on; yet, it is something that courts must do. However, unlike other states in Union, Alabama treats this area of law very differently.

The value of life

According to Dana Taunton, an Alabama attorney whose practice focuses on product liability and personal injury matters, death cases in Alabama are different that almost every other state in the Union. She explained, “Alabama has a death statute that says you are entitled to punitive damages. Other states put different values on someone’s life. Alabama does not. It is strictly a punitive damages state and you can recover for negligence and punitive damages.” She told us that there’s a public policy reason for that, “Alabama takes the view that one life is not more valuable than another. An unemployed person’s life is just as valuable and just as important as the life of a CEO in a large corporation.” As a result, Alabama does not limit the amount of punitive damages that are available in these situations.

Tips on preserving the value of a claim

While filing an insurance claim is last thing on anyone’s mind after suffering a tragic loss, it is important to understand what time limits are involved in filing a claim and what should be done to preserve the value of the claim. Taunton provided the following tips:

  • Get the names of witnesses to the accident.
  • Preserve the vehicle that was involved in the accident as that can be a key piece of evidence.
  • Take photos or find out whether a police officer took photos. If the vehicle gets repaired without proof of the damages, it makes the whole process that much more difficult. You can have family members or friends take photographs if you can’t do so yourself.
  • Find out how the accident happened, the speeds that were involved, etc. If the case goes to trial and that information isn’t known, then an accident reconstruction expert may have to be hired.
  • Be conscious that Alabama’s statute of limitations for bringing a personal injury or wrongful death claim is two years from the date of the accident.

If a loved one has been involved in a fatal car accident, take a moment to consult with an attorney whose practice focuses in this area of the law to discuss your situation. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential. To contact a qualified attorney, please click here. We may be able to help.

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