How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out in Alabama?

Wrongful Death report with a gavel and pencil

The loss of a loved one is devastating for surviving family members. Sometimes, the suffering and grief can prevent them from taking action against the individual or party responsible for their loved one’s death.

In these situations, it is best to contact an experienced wrongful death attorney to help you get the answers, compensation, and justice that you and your family deserve.

There are specific laws that govern how wrongful death actions can be made, and how settlements will be paid out. Read more below to learn about your rights if you need to file a wrongful death claim in Alabama.

Who Receives Payment in a Wrongful Death Settlement?

In Alabama, the surviving family members are not entitled to pursue a wrongful death claim individually. Instead, a personal representative of the estate initiates a claim.

If the deceased person left a will, he or she may have designated a relative or trusted friend to serve as the personal representative of the estate. If the individual died without a will, a family member such as a spouse or adult son or daughter may petition the Alabama probate court to be appointed as personal representative of the estate.

The personal representative initiates the wrongful death claim, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she will receive the settlement money. Settlements are dispersed according to intestacy. Depending on the deceased’s family situation, this could mean that the settlements are disbursed to the deceased’s children, spouse, parents, or siblings. Additionally, instead of being distributed through the estate, they are distributed separately outside of the estate. 

What Can You Do If You Disagree with the Settlement?

If the other side refuses to offer a settlement that you and your loved ones agree with, your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit and taking your case to court.

For some families, going to trial is risky because there is no guarantee that they will recover the damages they’re seeking. Predicting the outcome of a trial can be challenging, but it might ultimately be the right decision if the insurance company refuses to make a fair settlement offer.

Are Wrongful Death Settlements Taxable?

In most cases, wrongful death settlements are not subject to income tax or estate tax. However, it is critical to consult a wrongful death attorney to discuss how tax law could apply to your particular situation. Depending on the specifics of the settlement and your tax situation, it is possible that some tax liability could apply. Your attorney can work to structure a settlement in a way that would minimize any potential tax implications.

Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer for a Free Consultation

At Stokes Stemle, we understand how devastating it is to lose a loved one due to someone else’s negligence. For many, the added stress of trying to navigate a lawsuit while they grieve feels impossible. Your lawyer will shoulder the legal burden of your case while you take care of yourself and your family’s needs during this difficult time.

Our previous clients will tell you that when you hire us, we’ll put your needs first. Our compassionate and knowledgeable Alabama wrongful death attorneys are ready to sit down with you to discuss your situation and your legal options. Call us at (334) 234-3008, chat with us live, or fill out a contact form on our site.

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Wrongful death and personal injury Attorneys, Josh and John

At Stokes Stemle, LLC, we believe in personalized service. We get to know you, your case, and your needs. Then, we craft a legal strategy that is specially tailored to you.