It’s unfortunate, and many people don’t like discussing it, but what if the plaintiff dies while the case is open? After an accident, both parties could have sustained injuries which could potentially lead to death. Or an act of nature or disaster could result in the defendant’s death. But what happens when the defendant is no longer around to defend themselves?
If your claim is open, then you will feel the impact of this person’s death too. Just maybe not in the way you imagined.
The Case Goes to the Estate
The case will stay open, except under certain circumstances, but it will pass to the estate. All manner of things goes over to the estate, including debt, possessions, homes, and investments. However, the estate can take a long duration of time to close out. There is a transaction process, someone must take charge, and the assets must be dealt with as a will dictates.
For many people, that isn’t the answer that they want to hear. This could be good news, though. If you have a strong case, it means that you will still likely get compensation, and possibly full compensation. The fact that the case went through the estate won’t impact how much your case settles for in the end.
Remember that your case or claim will still stand on its own merit. The biggest issue that you have to deal with in the process is the waiting time period. This waiting process is called probate. In Georgia, the probate process must go through different methods of probate administration.
Ultimately, your case will become part of the probate estate and go through the Georgia Probate Court.
Exceptions for Criminal Cases
Criminal charges for car accidents do drop when a defendant dies. For example, if someone was facing felony charges for reckless driving which caused your accident, the case would close. Criminal cases are the state bringing justice to the person accused. When the accused cannot defend themselves, there is no case.
For many people, this is disheartening. If your Atlanta crash resulted in injuries which led to felony charges, or the death of a passenger, this case closing could feel terrible. Keep in mind that civil options for compensation are still available. You can pursue your claim through insurance, or independently through the state. Discuss what options you have available with your auto wreck attorney.
Working with Beneficiaries or State Executors
Is it likely that you’ll work with a beneficiary or a state executor? You may work with an administrative office when it comes to receiving payment. However, it’s most likely that you’ll only interact with the defendant’s insurance company. Even when a case goes to court, it’s often the insurance company protecting their customer.
Because the crash happened when the defendant was alive, and the insurance policy was active, they should still service the case. You might have more luck; however, receiving a settlement as the company won’t want to put money into a case for a former customer.
An Atlanta Auto Wreck Attorney Should Fight for Your Side
It is not pleasant, but the defendant dying does not change your position in this situation. You still have many medical bills and outstanding debts that can cause you to struggle for years. An auto wreck attorney may be more sensitive or understanding of the issue, but they should still fight for your side of things.
They may even help you adjust and understand what a fair settlement is, versus pursuing the full compensation. Always look for an Atlanta car accident attorney that will understand your decisions and support them. If you want to settle for less in an effort to close the case cleanly, that is your decision. However, if you want to take the case as far as possible to recover fair compensation, then your attorney should support that decision as well.
Contact an Auto Wreck Attorney in Atlanta, GA
The Weinstein Firm has seen all manner of unexpected situations happen during their many years of experience. A defendant dying does post a special circumstance. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t receive the compensation that you have a right to. In fact, a defendant dying may only disrupt the timeline, and not necessarily the case itself.
Contact The Weinstein Firm to schedule a consultation and talk about the issues in your claim. Insurance companies, other attorneys, and the family members involved will likely urge you to drop the case. You don’t have to let your injuries cause you further financial damage.