The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that an unfortunate car accident takes place in the U.S every 13 minutes. Unfortunately, 38,000 people die annually as a result of such mishaps.
Even so, if you’re injured due to someone else’s negligence, you can file a claim against them. For instance, if you live in South Carolina, you may request a free consultation with Beach Injury Lawyers – a results-driven team of professionals dedicated to helping their clients get compensation.
But what if the at-fault driver passes on in the accident? Does that nullify your right to file a claim? No. You can still file a claim.
Why You’re Entitled to File a Claim
Personal injury claims generally depend on whether you can prove the other party’s negligence as the cause of your injury. Thus, the driver’s insurance company may be liable for damages, lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, and the like. In short, the death of the at-fault driver does not prevent you from seeking compensation or does not invalidate your claim.
Nonetheless, the applicable laws in your state may also determine how to proceed with a claim if the driver died. For instance, South Carolina, a ‘fault state,’ requires drivers to have liability insurance. As a result, you can file a claim against the deceased driver’s insurance.
Also, the state applies the comparative negligence rule. Based on the rule, you can file a claim provided your responsibility for the mishap falls below the 50% threshold.
What About No-fault States?
In a no-fault state like Florida, drivers must claim against their insurance policy for minor injuries – if their claim meets the state’s no-fault threshold. This is because such states don’t hold the other driver liable even if they’re responsible for the accident and your injuries.
No-fault rules, however, allow you to file a personal injury claim if the cost of your injuries exceeds the insurance policy. This implies your claim can be a fault-based claim, and you must prove the other driver’s negligence.
Dealing with the Deceased’s Estate
Insurers don’t always cover the full amount of your claim. Others may refuse to settle your claim despite providing evidence supporting your move.
This, however, does not mean you’ve reached a dead end. You may file a claim against the deceased’s estate or other third parties that might have been involved – such as the manufacturer of a defective car part.
An estate is a legal entity established to settle the deceased’s affairs. Typically, it’s managed by an appointed executor who handles the distribution of assets and other bequests. The courts usually oversee the probate process of an estate, meaning you need to prepare for a legal battle.
Similarly, if the driver was uninsured or underinsured, filing a claim against their estate may be a feasible option. That way, you may access the necessary resources to cover your medical costs, lost wages, and so on.
If you follow this path, you effectively become a creditor of the deceased’s estate, and you’ll need to prove your case. Nonetheless, the specifics of such claims vary from state to state and depend on the facts surrounding your accident.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Your state’s laws may also require insurance companies to include uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage in their policies. If the at-fault driver does not have adequate insurance to cover your losses, you can file through your insurance company.
Nevertheless, note that such coverage only accounts for economic damages. Thus, if you’ve suffered emotionally or psychologically, you’ll have to take action against the at-fault driver’s estate.
Seek Legal Assistance
The steps involved in making a successful personal injury claim are complex and depend on the facts of each case. Consult with an experienced lawyer in your state to discuss your case. They can assist you by:
- Negotiating with the at-fault driver’s insurance for a favorable settlement.
- Preparing and filing a personal injury claim.
- Gathering evidence to support your case.
- Exploring applicable legal options unique to your situation, including filing a claim against the deceased’s estate.
- Advocating for your rights in court.
A lawyer can also guide you through the entire process. For instance, they can advise you regarding the statute of limitations for personal injury suits and value the claim based on your damages.
Will the Deceased’s Loved Ones Be in the Picture?
It’s natural to wonder if you’ll deal with the deceased’s loved ones. Usually, you’ll only interact with the estate’s executor or a legal representative appointed by their insurer. Thus, you won’t have to face the emotional burden of dealing face-to-face with the bereaved family.
You should consider filing a claim since your injuries can affect your quality of life and cause financial hardship. It’s your legal right – one you can pursue with your attorney’s guidance. Their input is invaluable, mainly due to the complex or contentious issues surrounding claims against the deceased’s estate.