If you have been injured in a car accident, you expect to be able to sue the at-fault driver for damages to help cover your medical costs and lost wages. But what happens if the driver who caused the accident dies in the accident?
This can make it much more complicated for individuals to get the compensation they deserve since the individual they would have sued is no longer living.
If the deceased driver is covered by insurance, there may be compensation available to the victim. If the motorist was not insured or did not have enough coverage, it may prove more difficult to find the money for any damages that were incurred as a result of the accident.
Work with Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath. Our Florida auto accident lawyers will help you get maximum compensation, even if the at-fault driver is deceased.
Can I file a claim if the at-fault driver dies in the accident?
In short, yes, there are ways that you can seek compensation for your injuries due to a car accident with a deceased at-fault driver. However, it may be more difficult.
Typically, in a car accident lawsuit, you would file your claim against the at-fault individual.
If they are deceased, then they cannot be the target of your lawsuit.
In this case, you are still entitled to make a claim against the decedent. Your two methods for filing this personal injury claim are through their insurance or their estate.
However, if your personal injuries are minor, you should first be going through your own insurance, as Florida is a no-fault state.
Minor Injuries in Florida as a No-Fault State
Florida is a no-fault state, requiring all drivers to have personal injury coverage in their car insurance policies up to $10,000. This can be used for your medical expenses and lost wages in the event of a car accident.
Even if you were not at fault for the accident, you can still file a claim through your own policy. The $10,000 coverage is your first way to collect damages after a car accident for which you were not at fault.
However, if your damages exceed this $10,000, then you would need to seek compensation from the at-fault party.
For this to happen, you would need to have a “serious injury”, as classified by Florida. That means that you would need to have suffered a significant loss of a bodily function, have a permanent injury, have significant scarring or disfigurement, or have perished in the accident.
Filing a Claim Against the Insurance Company
If the deceased driver was insured, as every driver in Florida is meant to be, then you can file a car accident claim against their insurance.
If this is the case, then your claim will proceed as if the insured party was still alive. Since you will be filing against their insurance and not them as an individual, and the policy remains in effect, the case will proceed similar to one in which the at-fault driver was alive.
Typically, you would hire a personal injury attorney to assist you with the proceedings.
An attorney will protect you from the insurance company, which is likely to offer you a settlement offer that is far below what you actually deserve.
Filing a Claim Against the Estate
If the deceased driver did not have insurance, you may need to file a claim against their estate.
If you have uninsured motorist coverage through your own car insurance, you may be able to skip this complex step.
If not, you will need to hire an experienced car accident attorney who knows how to navigate both probate law and personal injury law.
Hire an attorney who can file a claim against their estate, which involves opening up a probate case. Once the case is opened, you will be able to collect assets from the estate of the deceased driver.
The difficulty with this type of collection process is that it normally takes many months for this kind of filing and collection. If the deceased did not have many assets, you also risk not being able to collect the damages that you need.
Worries About the Deceased’s Family
Many victims hesitate to file a claim against the deceased’s estate because they worry about the deceased’s family. As they are grieving the loss of a family member, they do not need to endure the complications of a trial.
Thankfully, these proceedings will not impact them financially.
You cannot go after these individuals for your damages. You can only go after the deceased’s insurance and estate. This means that these individuals will not be financially impacted by you getting the compensation that you deserve.
Call an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a car accident where the other driver died, it is crucial that you get help from an experienced attorney. They will be able to guide you through this process and ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.
Call Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath to set up a free consultation today.
We have worked for decades helping victims like you get the compensation that they deserve. We will work tirelessly on your case to ensure you feel valued throughout this complex process.