Wrongful Death Attorneys in Gulf Coast States (AL, MS, FL, and GA)

For wrongful death attorneys who understand the court systems in states across the Gulf Coast Region, contact Alexander Shunnarah & Associates. We have lawyers in offices across Florida and five other locations, including Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. The laws governing wrongful death cases are different in each state, so it’s important to speak with a lawyer who is familiar with the legal variations in each region. Seeking counsel from a firm with a diversified regional portfolio will help ensure that all important timelines and logistical criteria will be met. The untimely loss of a loved one can be a very emotionally difficult time, but it’s important to speak with qualified wrongful death attorneys as soon as possible because the window of time for filing a claim is limited.

What’s a Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death civil action is filed against a person or entity, like a company, whose negligence or misconduct resulted in the death of an individual. Because the victim can no longer file a claim, close family members often seek retribution. This rule, however, does not apply to all states. For example, in Alabama, unlike most states, wrongful death cases must be filed on behalf of the deceased’s estate. An immediate family member in Mobile, therefore, will not have the same legal options with regard to wrongful death claims as close family members of victims in the rest of the nation.

Is Wrongful Death the Same as Murder?

While the two distinct legal definitions can sometimes apply to the same act, murder and wrongful death are tried in different courts. Murder is a criminal charge that’s prosecuted by representatives of the government. Wrongful death is a civil charge brought by an individual against another person or business. Usually, civil cases do not result in jail time. Although incarceration is less common, it is still a possibility if the accused is found in contempt, which means they disobeyed a court order, tampered with evidence, interrupted proceedings, or displayed any disrespectful behavior. While both kinds of cases can sometimes apply to the same series of events, the burden of proof, or the duty to prove or disprove the accusation, is much lower in wrongful death cases. In a criminal case, the defendant must be proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but civil court decisions are made based on a “preponderance of evidence,” which is more like a simple majority. If the combination of evidence from both sides suggests a 51% chance that the accusations are true, then that can be enough to decide a wrongful death case. On the other hand, “beyond a reasonable doubt” requires 99% certainty. Since this is only an approximate illustration of the difference, a consultation with wrongful death attorneys is essential to understand all the legal options available.

What Damages Can Be Recovered by Wrongful Death Attorneys?

Because a wrongful death case is decided by civil rather than criminal courts, the defendant cannot be sent to jail as a result of the proceedings. Instead, the result of a civil case is often a payment of damages or a settlement out of court. The potential damages can depend upon who is filing the case and their relationship with the deceased. The estate, or those designated as beneficiaries in the will, may sue for the lost earnings and medical and funeral expenses. Close family and survivors can sue for expenses as well as loss of companionship, support, and services; mental pain and suffering; and loss of parental guidance. In Alabama, wrongful death attorneys can only press for punitive damages, which punish the defendant according to the degree of negligence or wrongdoing. Wrongful death attorneys can give a better idea of the kinds of damages potentially applicable in your state and circumstances.

Is There a Time Limit on Wrongful Death Cases?

There are a lot of variables in the statute of limitations as well as other laws that restrict the timeline of when a wrongful death claim can be filed. As a general rule of thumb, Florida, Georgia, and Alabama cases must be filed within two years. Mississippi cases must be filed within one year if the act was intentional or within three years if the death was caused by negligence. If a case is to be tried in Florida, but the death occurred in another state, then the statute of limitations in that state applies to any wrongful death claim in Florida. On the other hand, under Florida’s “Jeffrey Klee Memorial Act,” any wrongful death involving a homicide has no statute of limitations.

As an example of complications in some states, Georgia puts the two-year time limit on hold for the duration of any criminal trials involving the same events. Because of the differences in each state and the nuances of each case, it’s important to talk with a legal representative as soon as possible. Our attorneys practice in seven locations from Gulfport, MS to Atlanta, GA and Gainesville, FL. If you have lost a loved one because of a wrongful death, contact Alexander Shunnarah & Associates.

Does Medical Malpractice Constitute a Wrongful Death?

A doctor’s error or negligence that results in the patient’s death can result in either a wrongful death or medical malpractice lawsuit. While medical malpractice involves negligence on the part of a health care provider, often a doctor or hospital, the resulting injury does not necessarily result in death. In some states like Georgia, it’s necessary to pursue a case either as wrongful death or as medical malpractice, but the choice between the two affects both how the case is pursued and the potential outcomes. It’s important to talk with wrongful death attorneys about the details of the individual case and how to best proceed.

How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Last?

Filing a wrongful death suit and resolving it in court often takes from a year and a half to two years, but some cases can take much longer. Usually, a great deal of evidence must first be collected, and cases involving complicated issues or large amounts of money tend to take significantly longer. A consultation with attorneys can give you a better idea of what to expect with your case, though every case is different. If the fault of one party is particularly evident, for instance, cases involving the negligence of a drunk driver, then the defendant may offer a settlement before the case goes to trial.

What Happens During A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The circumstances of each case are different, and the process is different depending on the circumstances, the parties involved, and the state in which the death occurred. One of the first questions involves determining the personal representative of the deceased. Claims made on behalf of an estate are often different from those made by a survivor in the immediate family. The records of medical bills and funeral expenses are collected as part of the economic damages that may later be claimed.

Because of the complexity and variation of the laws involved, it’s important to contact a firm with wrongful death attorneys as soon as possible. Evidence about the defendant’s negligence is collected, and a monetary settlement may be requested. If a settlement is not reached, then a lawsuit is filed. The discovery process involves both sides requesting and collecting information and evidence to support their respective claims. Eventually, both parties meet in a mediation conference to see whether an agreement can be met without going to trial. If the parties are unable to come to an agreement in the mediation conference, then they go on to have a trial in front of a jury.

What are the Possible Verdicts?

If the jury rules in favor of the survivor or estate, then the court can determine how to distribute the damages. If the verdict is in favor of the defendant, then the case is dismissed. Either side can appeal the decision, particularly if there’s reason to believe that the court may have abused its discretion when deciding which evidence to allow in the proceedings. Attorneys can help explain the potential verdicts and rulings in your state and court system.

In the state of Mississippi, wrongful death cases are handled in a manner very similar to cases involving personal injury. While the circumstances are different in that the injured party ultimately died, it is helpful to find a firm with wrongful death attorneys who have also handled personal injury cases. In Tallahassee, Mobile, or anywhere along the Gulf Coast, it is important to consider the available assets of the party being held responsible. If the responsible party does not have the available finances or other assets necessary to pay damages, then pursuing a wrongful death suit may ultimately be fruitless. Alexander Shunnarah & Associates has a team of wrongful death attorneys who can help evaluate your situation and options. Call today.

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