Can I Still Recover Compensation if the At-Fault Driver Dies?
Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Oct 21, 2021 in Car Accidents
Fatal accidents are often devastating for all involved parties, which may make pursuing compensation from an at-fault driver who died a difficult decision. However, as a victim of the deceased person’s negligence, you have the right to pursue compensation for your damages, which may be significant if the accident resulted in at least one fatality.
Our South Bend auto accident attorneys understand the difficulty of the situation and are prepared to help you through the complex process of filing a claim against a deceased driver’s insurance company.
Will My Claim Still Be Valid?
Remember that an accident claim is valid so long as you can prove the negligence of another person resulted in your damages. If you were injured in an accident caused by a driver who either died in the crash or died some time afterward, you may still have a valid claim.
Although the facts of each case differ, it is important to note that when you are filing a claim for compensation for your damages you are not dealing directly with the at-fault driver. If that person is deceased when you are filing your claim, you are not dealing with the person’s family. Instead, you are dealing with the liable insurance company that represents the negligent driver.
Your right to pursue compensation from a negligent person does not die with him or her.
What if the Person Did Not Have Enough Insurance?
Just like other claims, if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to cover the full costs of your damages, you may be able to turn to your own Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) coverage, if you have it.
However, where cases with a deceased at-fault party differ from a living at-fault party is how to pursue compensation directly from the individual if he or she does not have enough insurance to cover your damages.
If the responsible party is alive, you may sue the person directly for your damages and the process would involve a jury trial. But if the person liable for your damages is dead, you would need to file a lawsuit against his or her estate.
It is important to note that most injury claims are settled out of court, so there is usually a small chance of having to file a lawsuit. That said, it is important to have an attorney who is prepared to do so.
Filing a Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Driver’s Estate
If you are unable to reach a settlement agreement with the liable insurance company, or there is not enough insurance to cover the full cost of your damages, you may find yourself in a situation where you would need to file a lawsuit against the deceased person’s estate.
This process may be complex because it could involve something called probate court if the person does not have a living trust or other legal documents that would allow the bypassing of probate. The time frame for recovering compensation through a lawsuit against a deceased person’s estate is generally smaller than that of someone who is still alive.
Due to these complexities, it would be in your best interest to speak to a licensed attorney who understands probate and estate laws in Indiana so you may focus on recovering from your injuries.
Call an Experienced Attorney Today
Pursuing compensation from a liable party, whether that party survived the crash or not, may be a complex process. You may not be in good enough health to do it on your own. Let our experienced attorneys handle the legal aspects of the case while you focus on your recovery.
For decades our attorneys have helped injury victims like you recover maximum compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages.
The consultation is free and there are no upfront fees.
Call us today at (844) 678-1800