What if the Person at Fault for My Accident is Deceased?
In many car accident injury cases, an injured person may be entitled to pursue compensation for their physical, financial, and emotional losses. The payment for these losses usually comes from the at-fault party’s insurance company. Sometimes, the worst happens, and someone dies in a collision.
When the victim dies and is not at fault, the surviving family can recover compensation through an injury claim. However, your options may change when you’re the victim and the at-fault driver dies in the collision. Often, you can still pursue compensation from the deceased’s insurance or estate. The process may be difficult, however, and it is best to discuss options with a Milwaukee car accident attorney at Mingo & Yankala, S.C.
Proving The Deceased Driver Was At Fault
When it comes to getting compensation in any car accident claim, victims must prove fault. This is still a requirement if the at-fault driver dies. Police reports, photos, videos, and witness accounts can help prove the deceased driver was responsible for the crash. Your attorney can use this information to show how the accident happened and who should be responsible..
Even with strong evidence, the insurance company can still find reasons to deny your claim. The insurer might even blame you for the accident. Your car accident lawyer can handle all of these obstacles and challenges for you.
Can You File a Claim Against a Deceased Driver’s Insurance Policy?
In most cases, you can seek compensation from the deceased driver’s insurer. Sometimes, however, you may have to look for other avenues to recover payment for your losses, like suing the deceased’s estate. Determining what options you have can be challenging. You should discuss your situation with Mingo & Yankala, S.C.
An experienced car accident lawyer in Wisconsin can help you through the process. Our legal team will investigate the collision and gather evidence to prove the deceased’s liability. We can build a challenging case for the insurance company to deny, using everything we can collect. We can also negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement.
What Happens if the Deceased Driver Was Uninsured or Underinsured?
Wisconsin drivers are legally required to carry insurance. There are state minimums that drivers should meet. The minimum limits are $10,000 for property damage and $25,000/$50,000 for injury or death. Things can get complex if the deceased driver carries minimum coverage and your losses surpass these limits. You might have to look for coverage options elsewhere. The same applies when the driver is uninsured.
One route you can take to recover compensation is to use your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This also applies to deceased drivers with minimum or no coverage. There are other options to pursue compensation, and our team at Mingo & Yankala, S.C. will review all insurance policies and avenues for compensation that apply to your circumstances.
Can You File a Lawsuit Against a Deceased Driver’s Estate?
In some cases, you may recover payment by suing the deceased driver’s estate according to the Wisconsin rules of civil procedure. This can happen if the insurance policy is insufficient to cover your injuries or the insurer refuses to make a fair offer.
This legal action involves filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court seeking payment for your losses. If you win a judgment, the insurance company will still need to pay up to policy limits. The rest you might seek from the deceased person’s assets or property called their estate.
Going through the estate to get compensation can be challenging. The estate might not have enough funds to pay priority debts and your judgment. To ensure you receive the compensation you deserve from the insurer or the estate, always have experienced injury litigation on your side.
Damages You May Recover From A Collision
A determination you need to make when pursuing compensation is what damages you can recover. You should keep copies of records like medical reports, repair estimates, etc. Keep any receipts for expenses you incur from your collision. Sometimes, people think compensation will be lower since the at-fault driver is deceased. However, you still have a chance to receive full compensation regardless of what happens to the other driver.
The damages you can recover from a deceased driver are similar to the ones you can claim for other crashes. Some of the damages you may qualify for include:
- Medical expenses often make up the majority of your claim. This will include the costs of treatment from when the accident happens until you heal or reach maximum medical improvement. This might include ambulance fees, physical therapy costs, medication, doctor visits, etc. You should also seek future medical costs if you have lasting injuries that require ongoing treatment after your claim is resolved.
- Pain and suffering. Your mental or physical distress is compensable in your claim. This covers the physical pain and emotional suffering you experienced due to your injuries or long-term disabilities.
- Lost wages, including any wage losses you suffer from getting treatment, healing, or not having transportation. You should keep your pay stubs, taxes, and other documents as proof of wages. You can seek future lost earnings if you still cannot work.
Every case is different, including the specific damages you can seek and for how much. You may have other losses that we did not cover here.
Challenges When The At-Fault Driver Dies
Usually, when there is a collision, both drivers will be interviewed during the investigation phase. When one driver dies, they cannot make a statement. Instead of you versus the other driver, it is your word against no one’s. While you might think this can help you, it is also a common complication. When the deceased is not present to admit liability, you will need stronger evidence to prove your claims.
You might feel guilty about seeking compensation from a deceased person’s estate, but you deserve compensation for what you endured. Just because the driver died does not mean you should have to cover your medical expenses and other losses. You should never hesitate to protect your rights, even when the driver dies.
It is best to have your Milwaukee car accident lawyer handle the process. We deal with these types of difficult situations every day as part of our dedicated work. We will be your voice so you do not have to communicate with anyone who might make you feel guilty for pursuing a claim.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
A Milwaukee car accident lawyer can help in many different ways. The first service is a free initial consultation. This is your first meeting with your attorney, where you will sit down and discuss the case. You can determine if the firm and attorney fit your needs. Conversely, the law firm will determine if you have a valid claim and if they can adequately handle your case. If it benefits both parties, paperwork will be completed officially establishing representation.
The next step is investigating your collision. This involves gathering evidence, working with experts, and analyzing the facts. The investigation can uncover who is at fault for the crash and also establish the extent of your damages, which can involve obtaining medical records and speaking to medical experts. We will also calculate your future losses if they apply to your case.
We will file the necessary insurance claims and handle all communications and negotiations with insurers of the deceased driver. If an insurer refuses to make a fair offer, we can initiate litigation against the insurer or the deceased person’s estate when necessary. We ensure that your lawsuit meets all deadlines, has sufficient evidence, and follows the necessary procedures in Wisconsin. We can handle all of this whether the at-fault party is deceased or living.
A Wisconsin car accident lawyer can best help you by representing your rights and best interests. We have years of experience representing injury victims. We can calculate your total losses and fight for maximum compensation. The insurance company is not on your side, but our legal team will be.
Contact Our Milwaukee Car Accident Lawyers Today
Car accidents are common in Wisconsin, and too many result in severe injuries or death. When the at-fault driver dies, it can raise many questions regarding your possible compensation and recovery.
Our Wisconsin car accident attorneys collect evidence and present your claim to the insurance company or in court. We are committed to obtaining what you deserve for your losses. Schedule an initial consultation by calling (414) 273-7400 Mingo & Yankala, S.C., or using our contact form.