What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

If a person is killed because of the misconduct of another person or company, their family may sue the company for wrongful death. The suit seeks compensation for the family's losses. Some of the losses may include lost companionship and lost wages, along with things like funeral expenses.

In this post, your trusted wrongful death attorney in Birmingham, AL shares what you need to know about filing a wrongful death lawsuit:

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When a person dies due to someone else's negligence or wrongdoing, a wrongful death lawsuit can be pursued by that person's heirs. A typical plaintiff in a wrongful death suit is the spouse or child, depending on their relationship.

The statutes defining wrongful death vary from state to state; typically, the statutes define who is allowed to prosecute such a lawsuit and establish limits for damages. When the laws for wrongful death were enacted initially, they were primarily concerned with providing support for an individual's orphans and widows.

When Wrongful Death Claims Apply

Wrongful death lawsuits are most often filed when someone's death results from another's negligence or intentional wrongdoing. Here are some of the instances when wrongful death claims can be applied:

  • Intentional killing
  • Medical malpractice
  • Automobile accidents

How Do You Determine the Wrongful Death Settlement Amount?

When determining the settlement amount for a wrongful death claim, several factors should be considered:

The decedent's earning ability: A significant factor in the settlement amount will be their earning capacity before their passing. This could be used to determine how much the decedent would have earned working if they had not passed away.

The amount of financial support the decedent would have provided to sustain their family can be used to determine how much the family would have needed financially to maintain their household with the decedent.

The amount of financial support the decedent provided to the family: This will help determine how the decedent's death affected their financial situation and what type of financial assistance they will now need.

Whether the decedent was a breadwinner: A decedent's age and occupation can also play a role in determining the settlement amount. The decedent's age and work can be used to determine whether the decedent was expected to live a long life or if they were in a dangerous job that could have led to their early death.

The decedent's medical expenses: The medical costs incurred before the decedent's death can help determine the amount of damages that have been incurred on behalf of the family.

Contributory negligence: If the decedent contributed to their demise, the settlement amount might be reduced after considering any contributory negligence.

The age and health of the decedent: The decedent's age and overall health can influence the settlement amount. A decedent's poor health can negatively affect a wrongful death claim. For example, suppose the decedent suffered from a major illness before death. In that case, their settlement amount may be affected by their poor health and the medical expenses incurred because of the decedent's illness.

The amount of life insurance the decedent had: A decedent's life insurance policy can help mitigate the damages that their family has incurred. If the decedent had $100,000 in life insurance, this amount could reduce the amount of settlement awarded to the family.


While you may think that only a wrongful death lawsuit can help you recover the damages, you could be greatly mistaken. While this is the best way to claim your rightful wages, you have another option or two. You can also opt for a personal injury claim or a medical malpractice claim, depending on the nature of your case. A wrongful death attorney in Birmingham, AL can help you determine the best steps that you can take. 

Swiney & Bellenger, Attorneys at Law can provide you with the legal expertise of a wrongful death attorney in Birmingham, AL who can help you with the case you want to file. Set a legal consultation with us today and we can discuss the best course of action regarding your situation.

  • (205) 588-4652


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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