Filing a Claim Against a Deceased At-Fault Driver: What to Know
When a driver responsible for an accident dies in the crash, an injury victim may have questions about how to file a claim and how that claim may be affected by the at-fault driver's death. Filing a claim against a deceased driver may be more complicated, especially if the need to file a lawsuit arises.
Our car crash lawyers are prepared to help you through the complex process of recovering the compensation you need from a deceased at-fault driver's insurance or estate. The consultation is free, and we do not charge you anything upfront.
Do I Still Have a Case if the At-Fault Driver Died?
Claims for compensation come down to whether someone else's negligence directly resulted in your damages. Therefore, whether the negligent party lived after the crash is not generally relevant to the validity of your claim.
In most states, including those with no-fault insurance systems, the at-fault party's death does not affect your claim for compensation. When a person causes a crash, the injured party may file a claim with the liable party's insurance company, which should initiate a negotiation process for a settlement agreement.
Generally, this process involves the insurance company and the injury victim, often through their attorney, without the involvement of the at-fault driver.
In short, an at-fault driver's death is not likely to impact your claim for compensation unless the insurance company refuses to offer a satisfactory settlement. If an agreement cannot be reached, filing a lawsuit may become necessary.
Filing a Lawsuit Against a Negligent Deceased Driver
If the insurance company fails to meet your compensation demands despite having sufficient evidence to prove liability, filing a lawsuit against the deceased driver's estate may be necessary.
Here is where the process differs from cases involving a living at-fault driver. Instead of suing the driver directly, your lawsuit would be against the decedent's estate, which can complicate matters. The liability insurance company would still defend the case and be responsible for paying your damages, as long as there is adequate insurance coverage.
Insufficient Insurance Coverage for Your Damages
If the insurance coverage is insufficient to cover the costs of your damages, the decedent's estate may be liable for the remaining amount. To pursue the estate for additional compensation, a process called probate is required. The probate court recognizes the person's death and facilitates payments of their debts.
Our attorneys can assist you in filing a claim through probate court to help you recover the necessary compensation, even from a deceased driver's estate. Alternatively, if there are not enough assets to collect a judgment, you may consider filing a claim through your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage if you have it on your own motor vehicle insurance policy. It's important to note that this type of coverage typically covers economic damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
Concerns for the Deceased Driver’s Loved Ones
Injury victims pursuing compensation for their damages from a driver who died in a car accident may hesitate to file a claim or a lawsuit. However, it's essential to understand that your right to pursue compensation does not die with the at-fault driver.
It's important to remember that you will primarily be dealing with the insurance company throughout the process, even if a lawsuit is filed, and not with the deceased driver's family or loved ones.
Your injuries may result in mounting medical bills, lost time at work, and other costs that could significantly impact your life. If you do not pursue the compensation you need, you could face serious financial burdens in the future. And it’s important to remember, to move quickly after an accident and gather the proper evidence to help your claim.
We Are Prepared to Help. Call Today
Our attorneys are ready to guide you through the legal process of pursuing the compensation you need, even if the at-fault driver died in the crash.
The consultation is free, and we work on a contingency fee basis, which means there are no fees unless we win your case.