Fatal car accidents are an unfortunate reality in Texas, resulting in 3,610 deaths in 2019 alone. When a person dies in a car crash because of another driver’s negligence, the family members left behind by the deceased can choose to pursue a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver to recover compensation. However, there are plenty of cases in which the at-fault driver dies in the accident or afterward. If you have been injured in an accident with another driver who is no longer living, you may be wondering what this means for your personal injury case.
Recovering Compensation From a Deceased Defendant
Fortunately, the death of the negligent party in a car crash does not make it impossible for other injury victims to obtain compensation for their damages. According to Texas law, a personal injury or wrongful death claim can be initiated against a deceased person’s estate if there would have been grounds for a claim against the person while they were living. This applies to cases in which the defendant dies before the claim is filed, as well as cases in which the defendant dies while the claim is pending, whether due to complications from the accident or any other reason.
That said, filing or continuing a claim against a deceased defendant can be complicated. In these cases, the estate executor or administrator for the deceased will act as the defendant, and this means that it may be necessary to review local probate court records to determine the appropriate party who will stand in. This may delay the proceedings, but an experienced attorney can help you determine the best course of action to move forward as efficiently as possible.
Given that testimony from the deceased defendant will likely be unavailable, you and your attorney will need to build a case for negligence using other forms of evidence. Depending on the situation, this can include photos or videos of the accident scene, police reports, and testimony from witnesses to the crash. This evidence can be used in settlement negotiations or a trial, depending on what your case requires.
Many of the same types of damages are available from the defendant’s estate as would have been available from the living defendant. For example, if you are pursuing a claim for your own injuries, you can recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you are pursuing a claim for your loved one’s wrongful death, you can also recover for funeral expenses, grief, and loss of support and companionship.
Contact a New Braunfels, TX Car Crash Attorney
Personal injury cases involving a deceased defendant come with additional challenges, but at The Bettersworth Law Firm, we can help you face these challenges and achieve your desired outcome. For a free consultation, contact a New Braunfels personal injury lawyer today by calling 830-443-9193.