Last year Greg Allen, a lawyer in our firm, obtained a jury verdict in a wrongful death case in state court for $5,250,000. In that case, our client’s sister was killed when the textile warper she was using at work pulled her into the rotating parts. The Defendants’ insurance company, which is incorporated in Sweden, refused to pay the judgment against the Defendants. The insurance company argued that its insurance policy did not cover punitive damages. In Alabama, a Plaintiff’s sole remedy for wrongful death is punitive damages.
By denying coverage of our client’s claim, the insurance company is seeking to evade Alabama’s Wrongful Death Statute, which limits a Plaintiff’s remedy for wrongful death to punitive damages. An insurance policy that excludes punitive damages for wrongful death violates Alabama’s strong public policy of valuing all human life the same. Alabama’s Statute seeks to prevent all homicides, and doesn’t take into account the victim’s age, station in life or financial condition. It doesn’t matter how much money the victim made or would make when he or she died as a result of a wrongful act. While insurance companies generally have the right to limit their coverage as the insurer sees fit, it is well-established in Alabama that an insurance policy that covers wrongful death cannot exclude punitive damages. Any other interpretation of Alabama’s public policy would in effect make it cheaper for parties to kill an individual than to injure them.
Alabama is the only jurisdiction that does not compensate the survivor for the wrongful death of the decedent. Lawyers in our firm have handled hundreds of these unique cases since the firm’s founding. This issue is before a federal court now and we believe we have a very strong legal argument that will prevail. If you would like additional information on this issue, contact Stephanie Stephens, a lawyer in our Personal Injury Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Stephanie.Stephens@beasleyallen.com.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.