When an Accident Kills Someone in Alabama

Dec 3, 2019 | Allen A. Ritchie


Was there someone absent from your Thanksgiving dinner because of an accident? Was the family confused about what to do?

This is not surprising. I get calls, often after a holiday gathering, for advice of how family members can be helped.

Take this case, a cousin is killed in an automobile accident and his wife and children need to be financially taken care of. The immediate family is grieving, and the rest of the family want to step in and help.

Here is my first piece of advice: don’t believe what happened in another state will happen to you. Your uncle from Ohio may have the best intentions, but that state’s laws are probably not the laws here in Alabama.

In this example, the specific legal action is called “wrongful death.” It is a term that confuses many of my clients. I suggest you think of it this way: death is inevitable for all of us, but in this case, the death came too early and because of someone else’s fault.

Now, here are some specific Alabama rules. A family member cannot file a lawsuit to recover the money the cousin would have made to support his family. Only the victim’s personal representative, a more modern term for what we once called the executor, can pursue a lawsuit.

Here is another odd part of Alabama law. If you win the lawsuit, the money does not go through the will, but rather through a process as if, the victim died without a will. Yes, that means some family members, not mentioned in the will, could be entitled to part of the money.

The law does provide help for the family, but you can see why you need to contact a lawyer who understands our state’s complex rules.

If you suffer an injury, such as a traffic accident, slip and fall or injury from a faulty product, you can talk to us at the Law Firm of Eiland and Ritchie for free. We want to help you get back on your feet.

Also join us on NBC 15 LawCall here in Mobile every Sunday night at 10:30 right after the news. We do a short show on tape during the football season but will take your calls live again after the first of the year.

Allen Ritchie

Alabama personal injury lawyer