After losing someone, it seems that you are one of the very few people who were so close. It's a phenomenon that many people experience after a loss. Suddenly the roles in life and titles declare how important or unimportant someone was in another person's life. It seems extremely unfair, but all the same, it's often the only place that people have to start. Roles and titles are the only things that the law can rely on for fair handling of a wrongful death claim in Alabama.
Is it possible for family members to file a wrongful death claim in Alabama? What happens in Alabama is that only a ‘personal representative' can take action for the victim. This state is very unlike other states in that the family members are not the victim. The deceased remains the victim in every situation here. A family member cannot file on behalf of the victim unless they are the one personal representative that will handle the claim.
So that means that family members are not represented as a whole. Instead, the victim is represented, and the family or closest family would be the ones to benefit.
In short, if you want to initiate a wrongful death claim in Alabama, you'll need to speak with an attorney to determine if you qualify as the personal representative. If there was an executor declared in the deceased's will, then that person would likely be the representative in place of any family member.
Distanced Family Members
The trouble that comes up with wrongful death cases is that you get distant cousins or family friends coming forward, trying to make claims on behalf of the deceased. But, in Alabama, that's not possible. It does clarify a lot of the issues for families in that they're not having private arguments and battles over who will file a claim.
A distanced family member can surely talk to the personal representative for the deceased. But it doesn't mean that they'll ever be able to benefit. It also doesn't mean that they can have any say in the matter for anyone involved.
Why Can't I File a Wrongful Death Claim in Alabama?
Alabama offers a much different system than other states have for resolving wrongful death disputes. Instead of allowing family members to file a case, Alabama requires that a personal representative of the deceased take action. That could include an executor of an estate or a family member determined as the closest of kin as the personal representative.
The purpose of this type of approach to wrongful death is to take the strife within the families to a minimum. It's unfortunate, but many families fall even further apart when you have a handful of family members who want to push for a wrongful death case as an act of revenge or resolution for themselves. However, that isn't always possible, and in our experience, what we've seen is even more trouble after the case when people don't get the compensation they thought they deserved.
With a personal representative that strife between the family is removed. Yes, some people can still become upset. But by handing the issue over to someone that can work on behalf of the family, those most affected.
Making These Decisions as a Family
In a wrongful death case, it makes it difficult for the family as a whole. In fact, that unintentional injury deaths were among the 3rd most common cause of death. In any given year, there are easily over 169,936 deaths related to unintentional injuries. These injuries can come from traffic incidences and even falls.
When you're looking at the way to manage this case, you might consider who to select or put forth as the personal representative.
When to Reach Out to a Birmingham Wrongful Death Attorney
There are a handful of times when you'll know that you need to involve a law firm that handles wrongful death claims. First, if your family is not sure about the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Second, if you and the remainder of your family cannot agree on whether or not to pursue a wrongful death claim in Alabama. Finally, when you're ready to formally file the claim and move forward with legal action.
Our attorneys at the Mike Bell Firm have helped many family members realize whether they can or cannot file for wrongful death. Additionally, we've guided those families through the process of seeking rightful justice through the civil court system for the cherished life lost in the accident. Calling the Mike Bell Firm allows you access to meaningful resources and compassionate attorneys.