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At Fault Driver Killed

If the negligent driver is killed in the car accident, it does not mean the injured person cannot bring a personal injury claim. However, there may be complications.


When a car accident is the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for injuries from the at-fault driver. When a victim dies, their family or representatives of their estate can ask for compensation from the guilty party on behalf of the deceased, called a wrongful death claim.

Who would you sue if the negligent driver was killed in the accident? 

It depends on whether or not there is an administrator for the estate of the deceased driver. If there is an administrator, he or she takes the place of the deceased driver and litigation would proceed as usual. When there is no estate established and there is no one to legally represent the deceased driver, the injured person must request for an estate to be established and an administrator appointed.

In most cases, the victim can make a claim against the deceased person’s insurance company and the claim is handled in the same way as any other personal injury claim. If the claim cannot be settled through negotiations, a lawsuit may have to be filed.

Moreover, representatives also have the obligations to defend all actions brought against the deceased. However, the statute of limitation says that all actions against the deceased or the estate must be filed within one year. Otherwise, they are dismissed.

Compensation for Injuries

Asking for compensation when the plaintiff is deceased is similar to the process family members go through when the victim has died: the claims go through the person’s estate. According to the Missouri law, whoever is decided as representative of the estate will receive all income, as well as collect all debts of the deceased person. As such, the representative is responsible for all claims filed against the estate and must pay them.

The purpose of filing a personal injury lawsuit is to be compensated for any injuries sustained due to the negligence of another person. The injured person must prove that the negligence of the driver caused the accident and that he or she suffered injuries as a result. Appropriate evidence must be presented in support of the claim. The victim bears the burden of proof and collects all important documents such as police reports, medical records, accident scene photos, and any other piece of evidence that can help prove fault and injuries.

What It Means for You

Simply put, if you are the victim of a car accident, and the person responsible for your injuries is deceased, you can still ask for compensation from their estate. This rule applies regardless if the person died because of the accident, or due to other circumstances that took place at a later time.

However, the deceased’s estate will first have to go through a probate process before you can seek compensation for your injuries. Depending on the situation, this process can be quite lengthy. If there is no named successor, like in the case of a will where the deceased clearly names their estate representative, the Missouri courts have to fairly divide both the inheritance and the remaining debts among all beneficiaries.

When you are filing a compensation claim against a deceased person, you effectively become a potential creditor. Now, the beneficiaries must carry the burden of the payment. At this time, you’ll have to file a claim through the probate court for the state to take your debt into consideration when dividing the estate. If you fail to do so within a year, your claim is automatically dismissed, regardless if the probate process is ongoing.

What You Should Do

If you are the victim of a vehicle collision, you should hire a St.Louis car accident attorney for help, particularly if you are dealing with a deceased plaintiff. The probate court has some very specific rules you must abide by, and any mistakes in your claim can be caused for dismissal.

Moreover, in some cases, families can delay the probate process to avoid creditors from filing these claims. If this is the case, you should discuss with your lawyer other courses of actions that could award you proper compensation for your injuries.

St. Louis Car Crash Lawyer

If you have been injured in an accident, you may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other financial losses resulting from the accident. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of companionship. Non-economic damages are usually awarded in case of serious injuries that adversely affect the victim’s quality of life. Talk to a St. Louis car crash attorney to protect your legal rights. Call The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. at (314) 361-4242 for a free consultation.

Updated: February 25, 2019