In many states, surviving family members of the decedent can file a wrongful death claim when they feel their loved one died because of someone else’s negligence.
However, Alabama has specific rules involving wrongful death claims.
Determining the executor
In Alabama, only the executor listed in the decedent’s will can file a wrongful death claim. This person is in charge of carrying out the wishes of the decedent as dictated in their will. If there is no will or if the decedent did not appoint an executor, a probate court will choose someone. The only exception is for parents of a decedent under 19 years of age. The parents can file on behalf of their child if they file within six months from the death.
Filing a claim
To file a valid claim, the executor must establish that the defendant breached the duty of care and prove that the defendant’s negligence, recklessness or wrongful actions led to the death of the decedent. Claims can include both economic and non-economic damages ranging from loss of financial support to pain and suffering.
Receiving the damages
Regardless of any wills or marriages, Alabama’s intestacy laws determine how the probate court distributes the settlement. For example, if the decedent had a spouse and children, the first $50,000 will go to the spouse and the children will split the remaining balance. If the decedent only had children, the children will get the entire settlement. The parents of the decent get the award if the decedent had no spouse or children.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be extremely difficult. Knowing your options for filing a wrongful death claim can reduce the burden.