If you were injured in a serious car accident, the driver who caused the wreck is responsible for damages. This generally means that losses such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering are covered by the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
But what if the at-fault driver dies in the accident? Can you sue someone who is deceased?
The answer is generally yes. When pursuing damages for an accident caused by someone who has died, you can file a claim against their insurance company or estate.
The experienced car accident attorneys at Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys at Law, have helped clients throughout the Olympia and Tacoma areas of Washington since 1972. Our firm has built a reputation for excellence in a wide range of personal injury cases, and we are committed to helping accident victims recover the full and fair compensation they deserve.
Filing a Claim Against the Deceased Driver’s Insurance Policy
In most cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is legally obligated to pay for the damages caused by their policyholder (up to that driver’s policy limits). At-fault drivers can also be held individually liable.
An experienced car accident attorney can investigate the facts surrounding your crash and gather evidence to prove negligence on the part of the at-fault driver. Your lawyer will also negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to protect your rights and pursue the maximum compensation to which you are entitled under the law.
What If the Deceased Driver Was Uninsured or Underinsured?
In Washington, most insurance companies offer coverage options to help protect you in cases where the at-fault driver has little or no insurance. If the driver has some insurance but not enough, you may be covered by Underinsured Motorist Coverage, if you carry it on your own policy. If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance at all, Uninsured Motorist Coverage applies. These two types of coverage are combined in the same provision by many insurance companies.
It is a good idea to have Underinsured Motorist Coverage. It can help your attorney pursue damages on your behalf, and it can protect you against negligent drivers who ignore Washington’s insurance requirements. While these provisions are included in many Washington auto insurance policies by default, you do have the option of waiving your right to these coverages in writing. People sometimes forget that they waived their rights when they purchased their coverage. Because of this, it is a smart idea to contact your insurance company to confirm that you are protected in these unfortunately common situations.
Filing a Claim Against the Deceased Driver’s Estate
In some cases, if the at-fault driver dies and the insurance policy does not sufficiently cover the full cost of your current and future economic and non-economic damages, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the estate of the negligent driver.
An estate is the property and assets left behind after a person’s death. The personal representative appointed to the deceased’s estate oversees the probate process, which transfers the assets of the estate to heirs, debtors and other interested parties. The probate process can be complicated. If you suffered losses due to the negligence of a deceased person, it is in your best interest to discuss your case with a knowledgeable attorney to see if you can file a claim against the estate. A lawyer can ensure probate deadlines are met and secure evidence to support your claim.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Olympia Today
Car accident cases involving the death of the negligent driver can be very complex and require the knowledge and resources of an experienced car accident lawyer. Marya Fuller is a specialist in accident and injury law. She has extensive experience helping accident victims recover the compensation they deserve after a wreck caused by negligent drivers. She understands the challenges you may be facing during this difficult time, and she is committed to helping you pursue justice.
If you were injured in a car accident, call Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys at Law, today at (800) 570-4878 for a free, no-obligation consultation. We serve clients from Olympia, Tacoma, and other areas across Washington.