It doesn’t happen often, but on occasion, someone defending against legal action can pass away unexpectedly. In many cases, this ends the legal action. For example, you can’t press criminal charges against someone that is no longer alive. However, it is a bit different with personal injury cases.
Often if the estate of the deceased is particularly small, the claim will be dropped. However, if the deceased had significant assets in his estate, it is possible for the injured party to continue their personal injury claim, but this time do so against the decedent’s – the deceased party’s – estate.
What this does is grind distributions to heirs to a grinding halt. The estate will need to remain intact until the case has been settled. Once done, the amount from the personal injury case, if successful, will be taken out of the estate. The remainder will then be distributed to the heirs.
Commonly, this occurs in the event of fatal accidents. For example, if the deceased was negligent for a car accident that killed them, the other injury party could file a personal injury claim against the deceased’s estate. It is a difficult situation for everyone involved. The other injured party may be able to have much of their damages covered by filing a claim with the decedent’s insurance, which is still valid if they passed away. However, they still have the right to file a further claim against the estate of the deceased as insurance may not cover everything.
Are you in a difficult situation where a loved one has passed away and legal action threatens their estate? We can help. Contact us today to see what Ford + Bergner LLP can do to help you get through this complicated and difficult time with minimal stress over the legal issues.