Sometimes the driver at-fault for a car accident will pass away because of injuries from the wreck itself, or from unrelated causes after the wreck. While the at-fault driver’s death will not prevent you from making a claim for your injuries and damages due to the car accident, it can complicate things, especially if a lawsuit needs to be filed. This post will briefly discuss some of the important things to consider if you are in this situation according to our friends at Garrett, Walker, Aycoth & Olson, Attorneys at Law:
Your claim still exists
Car accident injury claims focus on whether someone else’s negligence has caused you damages. Therefore, even if the at-fault party passes away, it will not affect the validity of your claim for damages. You will be pursuing a claim with the deceased party’s insurance company and typically will never speak to or deal with the at-fault party. If the insurance company refuses to negotiate or refuses to pay your claim, then you will have to pursue your claim in litigation, which would require you to file a lawsuit against the deceased person’s estate.
Failing a lawsuit against a deceased at-fault driver
Any time the liability insurance company refuses to meet your demands, you have to file a lawsuit to pursue your claim. Most of the time, the negligent driver is alive and the lawsuit is against them, even though their insurance company hires and pays for a lawyer to defend them and will pay any verdict or settlement up to their policy limits. However, when the negligent driver dies, either because of the wreck or for unrelated reasons afterward, the law provides that his or her estate is the legally responsible party. This does not change the fact that their insurance company will be covering the lawyer fees and verdict up to their policy limits.
What if the deceased driver’s insurance limits are too low?
The first step is to review your automobile insurance policy with your car accident lawyer to see if you carry enough underinsured motorist coverage to protect yourself if the at-fault party did not carry enough insurance coverage. Your car accident lawyer will also ask about other residents of your household and family members to determine if there are any other potential underinsured motorist policies which might be available to you. If there is no underinsured motorist coverage, or not enough, then you can make a claim against the at-fault party’s estate. However, some individuals and estates may not have enough assets to satisfy a judgment; your car accident attorney will be able to discuss this further with you.
There are many other considerations involved when pursuing a car accident claim against a deceased at-fault driver. If you are in this situation, give car accident lawyers a call today!