When a person dies because of someone else’s actions, the death may be considered a wrongful death. The deceased individual surviving family members have the right to pursue a lawsuit against the responsible party. Whether or not their loved one’s death was caused by intentional or negligent behavior, surviving family members can pursue economic and non-economic compensation. Nothing will bring a loved one back, but recovering compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit can help surviving families as they face funeral expenses, medical expenses, and their loved one’s lost income.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Only the personal representative, also called the executor, can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama. Surviving family members cannot individually file a wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative is the person in charge of executing the decedent’s estate. Sometimes the deceased person appointed an executor in his or her will before he or she died. If the deceased person did not appoint an executor, the Alabama probate court will appoint a personal representative or executor.
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Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim Within a Certain Time Frame?
The thought of filing a lawsuit after a loved one’s death can be extremely overwhelming. While handling the funeral and adjusting to your new normal, the last thing you want to do is pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. However, it is important to be aware of the time deadline, also called a statute of limitation for wrongful death lawsuits. In most cases, you have two years from the time of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, there are certain exceptions to this general rule in Alabama.
If you are claiming the city, you need to file a claim within six months of the appointment of the personal representative of your loved one’s estate. If you are filing a claim against a county, you’ will need to file within one year of your loved one’s death. No wrongful death lawsuit can be filed if the time limit to file a personal injury claim has already expired.
How Will the Wrongful Death Award be Distributed?
If the wrongful-death lawsuit ends in a settlement or jury award, the court will oversee Distributing the funds. In Alabama, the distribution of the jury award is a unique element of the wrongful death claims process. Most of the time, the individual who filed the lawsuit will receive the award. In wrongful-death lawsuits, the personal representative filed the claim on behalf of the deceased person’s estate and their surviving family members. As a result, the award will be distributed to the decedent’s heirs.
Alabama judges will distribute the settlement according to Alabama’s intestacy laws. Even if the decedent died with a valid will in place, the damages will be distributed to the decedent’s heroes under law. The heirs under Alabama’s laws may be different people than the beneficiaries in the decedent’s will. Under Alabama’s intestacy laws, the decedent’s surviving spouse and children take priority when Distributing the assets of the award.
Do I Even Have a Wrongful Death Claim?
Many people feel like pursuing a wrongful death claim is a lost cause. Some may focus on grieving their loved one’s death without trying to pursue justice in the courtroom. These feelings are understandable, but if you suspect that another person’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional behavior caused your loved one’s death, it’s worth it to discuss your case with an attorney. Most personal injury and wrongful death attorneys do not charge clients fees upfront. Instead, they only take a percentage of the settlement or verdict award after they win for their client.
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Do I Need an Attorney?
If you are considering filing a wrongful-death lawsuit, it is wise to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will be able to analyze all of the different aspects of your case. They will analyze the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death and the steps that have been taken in the meantime by everyone involved. Your attorney will also provide you with up-to-date and accurate answers to all the questions you have. You will be able to make informed decisions along the way.
Contact an Alabama Wrongful Death Attorney Today
An attorney will make it easier for you to be there for your family members during such a distressing time. Most importantly, an attorney will ensure that you file a claim within the statute of limitations so you do not run out of time and lose your ability to pursue the compensation you and your family members deserve. If you think that you may have a wrongful death claim, contact the experienced attorneys at Heninger Garrison Davis today to schedule your free initial consultation.