Accidental deaths occur frequently, but not all of them are truly accidental. Often, with a little more care or attention, someone involved in a tragic scenario could have averted the worst outcome. The person whose actions lead to a tragic outcome could be the one with financial and legal liability for the consequences of their actions (or inaction).
In a true accident where no one could have reasonably prevented a terrible outcome, there may be little recourse available for those who lose a loved one. However, in scenarios where you could reasonably claim that a person or business caused the death either through negligence, omissions or illegal activity, Alabama law might allow for a wrongful death lawsuit.
A wrongful death lawsuit lets those left grieving a loss recover some of the financial losses they will suffer because of the death. Those who have recently lost a parent, child or spouse to a tragic incident may feel eager to pursue justice. What family members potentially have the right to file a wrongful death claim in Alabama?
Your family relationships often don’t determine your filing rights
Many states restrict wrongful-death actions to specific, dependent family members. Spouses, parents and children are among those with the strongest rights due to their close relationships with the deceased.
However, Alabama has a slightly different approach. Rather than limiting wrongful death claims to dependent family members, Alabama requires that such lawsuits come from the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.
The individual named as executor or administrator either in estate planning documents or by the courts will be the one in a position to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If they are successful in that claim, they will then distribute those proceeds to dependant family members in accordance with state law. The only exception to this rule applies to parents of minor children, who may be able to bring a claim against the responsible party.
The value of a wrongful death claim
Being able to take civil action against a person or business that causes the untimely death of someone you loved can give you a sense of justice. It can also help limit the long-term financial effects of that loss.
If you think your family needs justice and financial compensation, reviewing the circumstances that lead to your loss can help you decide if filing a wrongful death lawsuit is the right approach for your situation.