Unfortunately, some accidents end in death. When a victim dies because of another’s actions, his or her estate (usually represented by family members) can pursue a claim on the decedent’s behalf. If you are looking to pursue a claim against a deceased person, you similarly deal with his or her estate in court.
An estate is comprised of the property a person leaves behind after death, and it is represented by the person named as its “personal representative” or “executor.”
Consider an example. A drunk driver collided with you and died in the crash. As the intoxicated driver was at fault for the accident, he is responsible for the injuries and damages you suffered whether or not he survives. You can still obtain compensation through a personal injury suit, but the legal process will be different.
In most cases, the deceased driver’s estate will need to pass through a probate process in court before you will be able to pursue your claim. In the probate process, an estate is divided to pay debts and deliver inheritances to the person’s beneficiaries fairly. By pursuing your claim, you become a potential creditor, and the estate will need to pay its debt to you when your claim is settled or won.
This process remains the same whether the person from whom you are seeking compensation died as a result of the accident or from unrelated causes.
In cases like these, it becomes even more important to seek legal representation immediately. You will need to meet probate court deadlines when you file to protect your claim, among other steps.