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Personal Injury 101: Claims Against a Deceased Driver

Do I Have a Case if the Other Driver Died?

Deadly automobile accidents are heartbreaking for all involved. When a person is killed in a car crash due to another driver’s negligence, family members of the deceased driver could be able to obtain monetary damages against the at-fault party.

In another scenario, a person may be injured in a car crash, and the driver who caused the accident may not survive.  Then the process of filing a claim becomes slightly more complicated.  When the at-fault driver is killed in the accident, others who were injured as a result of the deceased driver’s actions may still be able to recover compensatory damages.

Suing a Deceased Driver

California is what is known as an at-fault state.  That means the company that provided the automobile insurance for the person who caused the accident is required to pay damages to those who were injured.  This holds true even if the negligent driver died.  As long as the insurance policy that he or she paid for was active on the date of the accident, that company is liable for your property damage and injuries.

There are many uninsured drivers on the road.  If the at-fault driver was uninsured, you still may be able to seek payment for your damages from the deceased’s estate.  This process is much more complex, and it would make sense to consult with a Chico wrongful death lawyer to go over your legal rights and options.  

What About the Deceased Driver’s Loved Ones?

Undoubtedly, the family of the deceased driver will be devastated.  An injured crash survivor may feel guilt and unease at the thought of pursuing a legal claim against a person who lost his life in an accident.  If the deceased had an active insurance policy, however, there is generally no need to interact with any of the family, or any other people involved in the accident.  The claim should not affect the decedent’s family or loved ones. The claim will be handled through an insurance adjuster.

Filing an Insurance Claim

Even if the at-fault driver passed away in the accident, his or her insurance policy would play a key role in the claims process.  The policy’s purpose is to pay for the damages you suffered. Those damages may include repairs to your vehicle, any medical expenses you incurred, any income loss you sustained, and compensation for your pain and suffering.    

An experienced Chico wrongful death lawyer can help walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have.  Retaining an attorney also ensures that you receive fair and adequate compensation for the damages you suffered.  

What if There is No Insurance?

Many times, personal injury cases can be settled via settlement before a lawsuit is even filed.  However, if the negligent driver died and he was either uninsured or had insurance limits that were not sufficient to cover your damages, it could be necessary to initiate a lawsuit against the deceased driver’s estate.

The word estate describes all assets left behind after a person dies.  Most of the time, the estate will be represented by one of the decedent’s relatives – usually either a parent, spouse, or child.  If the deceased driver does not have any surviving family, the estate would be represented by the person in line to inherit the deceased’s estate.

The Importance of a Skilled and Compassionate Lawyer

Compassion, skill, and experience are all critical components to consider when choosing a lawyer to represent you following a serious car accident.  Watch the YouTube video below that discusses how to choose a trusted Northern California injury attorney.

Chico Wrongful Death Lawyer

Hello, and thank you for reading.  I’m Ed Smith, a wrongful death lawyer in Chico, California. Fatal accidents are devastating for the family of the deceased.  They also can bring up complicated emotions for those that survived the accident.  If you have suffered injuries in a severe automobile accident and would like compassionate, free, and friendly advice, call us at (530) 392-9400 or (800) 404-5400.  We also have an online contact option for those who are more comfortable with that form of communication.

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