If your family member died due to the negligence of someone else, you are probably wondering how to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as simply filing a lawsuit in State or Federal Court against the wrongdoer(s).
Under Alabama law, only the personal representative, or executor of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit:
A personal representative may commence an action and recover such damages as the jury may assess in a court of competent jurisdiction within the State of Alabama, and not elsewhere, for the wrongful act, omission, or negligence of any person, persons, or corporation, his or their servants or agents, whereby the death of his testator or intestate was caused, provided the testator or intestate could have commenced an action for such wrongful act, omission, or negligence if it had not caused death.Alabama Code § 6-5-410
In layman’s terms, you must first become the personal representative of your loved one’s Estate before you can pursue a wrongful death action.
How to Become the Personal Representative of an Estate in Alabama?
In order to become the personal representative, you have to file a Petition in the Probate Court of the county your loved one died to open an Estate and apply to the Court for “Letters Testamentary” (if your loved one died with a Will) or “Letters of Administration” (if your loved one died without a Will).
Once the Probate Court issues Orders of Letters Testamentary or Orders of Letters of Administration, you will be legally recognized as the Estate’s personal representative and will have the legal authority to file a wrongful death action on behalf of the Estate. Any recovery from the wrongful death lawsuit will be disbursed to the decedent’s heirs or to the person(s) designated in the decedent’s Will.
Due to the complicated process required to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, we recommend that you retain legal counsel as soon as possible. The wrongful death lawyers at Fob James Law Firm can help you open an estate and become the personal representative.
Contact An Alabama Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Fob James Law Firm has over four decades of experience representing clients wronged by others. We understand the trying times a wrongful death can bring and don’t want clients to go through it alone.
Our firm provides aggressive representation while we fight to protect your rights and work toward fair compensation. We offer free case reviews. Contact us today, and let’s see how we can help you.