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What If the At-Fault Driver Dies in a Bluffton Car Accident?

find out what happens if the at-fault driver dies

Many accident victims hesitate to contact a Bluffton car accident lawyer when they hear that the other driver lost their life in the crash. On one hand, they are not sure if they still have a case if the at-fault driver dies. On the other hand, they are concerned about the deceased driver’s family and do not wish to add to their grief.

Let us analyze this complex situation both from a legal and a humane point of view. First of all, let us discuss the validity of your claim in this situation.

A Personal Injury Claim Survives the At-Fault Party

The essence of any personal injury claim – including one resulting from a car accident – is that one person’s negligent action caused your injuries and economic damages. This fact is not changed or annulled by the at-fault driver’s death.

Your claim is not tied to the person, but rather their auto liability insurance policy. Since in South Carolina all drivers must carry insurance coverage for bodily injury and property damage, you will file your claim with the insurance company. As long as the policy was valid on the day the driver died, the insurer must handle your claim.

What Happens If the Driver Was Uninsured?

In some cases, you find out that the other driver was uninsured, or that they carried the minimum insurance coverage amounts, that is:

  1. $25,000 for bodily injury per person
  2. $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
  3. $25,000 for property damage

In this situation, if you want to recover all your eligible damages, you will have to file a claim against the deceased driver’s estate. This claim will be analyzed during probate – the legal process which disburses a deceased person’s assets to creditors and heirs.

How to Build a Strong Claim for Compensation

When you discuss your case with a Bluffton car accident lawyer, they will ask for the evidence you have supporting your case. Negotiating with an insurer is more difficult when their client is dead, thus they cannot get their side of the story.

However, an experienced lawyer will be able to prove your claim by relying on:

  • The accident report issued by the police officers who investigated the crash
  • Photos and videos you took at the accident scene
  • Eyewitnesses’ statements
  • CCTV or traffic camera footage
  • Medical examiner’s report on the deceased driver’s cause of death

It is important to remember that South Carolina uses a comparative negligence rule in car accident cases. You must be able to prove that you were less than 51% at fault for the accident in order to be eligible to recover damages.

your claim is still valid if the other driver dies in the crash

Types of Damages You Can Recover in a Claim against a Deceased Driver’s Estate

Although the procedure is different from a regular claim filed against a driver who survived the crash, you are entitled to recover the same types of damages:

  • Medical care costs
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation sessions
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Mental anguish

Your attorney will make sure that your damages are correctly evaluated and will negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf.

Concern for the Deceased Driver’s Family

Now, let us address the issue that deters most accident victims from filing a claim against a deceased driver. They do not feel comfortable facing the grieving relatives and demanding money from them.

However, you will file your claim with the driver’s insurance company and discuss your injuries and damages with an insurance adjuster. Also, if you file a claim against the deceased’s estate, it will be analyzed in probate court by a judge. You will likely never have to be in contact with the deceased driver’s family and cause them further distress.

Let an Experienced Bluffton Car Accident Lawyer Handle Your Claim!

Filing an accident claim if the at-fault driver dies is a complex and overwhelming matter. However, you must protect your rights in order to keep your family financially stable while you recover from your injuries.

An experienced Bluffton car accident lawyer at McDougall Law Firm will handle your claim competently and with consideration towards the deceased driver’s family. We will represent you during negotiations with the insurance company and in probate court, if necessary.

As a new client, you benefit from a free case evaluation, so call us as soon as possible after your accident at 843-920-5705!

Don't Wait! Contact MCDougall Law Firm Right Away!

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, don't hesitate, contact us today!

Our dedicated and experienced team will fight to get you the maximum compensation