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If you’ve lost a family member as the result of someone else’s wrongful act or negligence, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death case. Under Alabama law, the decedent’s personal representative can file a wrongful death case if the decedent could have filed a personal injury suit had he or she survived.

If you are considering filing a Birmingham wrongful death case, you should consult a personal injury attorney. If you have a wrongful death claim, our personal injury attorneys at the Fob James Law Firm will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case in AL?

In Alabama, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can bring a wrongful death claim. This rule is different from many other states, which allow close family members of the decedent to file a wrongful death case.

If the decedent died with a will, the will names the personal representative. However, if the decedent died without a will, then the court appoints the personal representative. Additionally, the personal representative must bring the case within two years of the decedent’s death.

What Types of Damages Can You Receive in an AL Wrongful Death Case?

Alabama wrongful death law is not as favorable to people seeking to file a wrongful death claim as in other states. In Alabama, the decedent’s personal representative can sue only for punitive damages, not compensatory damages. Further, punitive damages are capped at a maximum of $1,500,000. 

Although this may seem like a large sum of money, punitive damages do not include compensation for things such as:

  • Medical expenses, 
  • Lost wages,
  • Pain and suffering, and 
  • Loss of consortium.

Not frequently given in personal injury lawsuits, courts award punitive damages to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar conduct.

Who Receives Damages in AL Wrongful Death Cases?

The decedent’s heirs receive damages awards in Alabama wrongful death cases. The personal representative does not directly receive damages.

Alabama’s intestacy laws determine the identity of the decedent’s heirs. Depending on who survives the decedent, the heirs are usually a spouse, children, grandchildren, or parents.

The heirs could be different than those named in the decedent’s will because it may not have named all heirs. However, it is possible that the personal representative is also an heir and will receive damages.

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help Me?

If you’ve lost a family member as the result of an accident, you should contact our Birmingham personal injury attorneys at the Fob James Law Firm. Our aggressive attorneys can help you file a wrongful death claim and will strive to get you the compensation you’re entitled to.

Our attorneys are dedicated to representing others who have suffered a loss resulting from someone else’s negligence or wrongful act. With more than 40 years of experience, we will give your case the attention it deserves.

Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

Author Photo

Fob H. James, IV

Fob James obtained a B.S., in software engineering from Auburn University and then continued his education by getting his J.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Law. After working for a large regional firm for several years where he obtained awards for both individual and corporate clients, Fob found that his passion was fighting for individuals who have been seriously injured or wronged by others. Fob believes that the jury is the great equalizer to the power and influence that large corporations have in society.