Who Can Receive Benefits in a Wrongful Death Case?

Natalie Baine was a promising young student at the University of Alabama when she was killed in an accident earlier this year. She was a passenger in a truck which cut in front of a bus in an attempt to get onto I-65. The bus hit the truck, and as a result, a third vehicle hit the truck as well. Natalie was only 20 years old when she died.

Tragedies like this are far too common. Indeed, there is much that we can do as individuals and as a society to decrease the danger of traffic accidents. But when the nightmare becomes a reality and someone dies, does the family have access to justice?

Though a deceased victim cannot bring a lawsuit, the Alabama legislature has established a method for others to take up the mantle of justice and hold those at fault accountable for their actions. Alabama’s wrongful death statute provides that the personal representative of the deceased can bring a lawsuit for wrongful death on the deceased’s behalf. The personal representative can be a parent, spouse, child, other close relative, executor of the deceased’s estate, or a combination of these. However, there can only be one wrongful death lawsuit.

The wrongful death statute emphasizes that the payments ordered for a wrongful death action are for the death of the victim, and not some other type of compensation. Therefore, the payments must not be used to settle the debts left in the estate of the deceased. Instead, they must be paid to the deceased victim’s rightful heirs.

Alabama’s wrongful death laws cannot undo the past. They can, however, bring some measure of justice to those who have lost a loved one due to the fault of another. Contact a personal injury attorney at our office for a consultation if you have lost a close family member due to the negligence of another.