What if the Other Driver Died in the Car Accident?

Nashville Injury Attorneys Explains the Options for Relief

While auto insurance is supposed to help in difficult times like these, the process does not always go as smoothly as it should. The civil litigation system allows you to file a claim against the other driver, which can help provide some assistance. However, what can you do if the other driver died in the car accident?

Can I Sue the Estate of a Dead Person?

You can still file a lawsuit if the other driver was killed in an auto accident, but instead of suing the driver, you sue the driver’s estate. In this case, “estate” means the property owned by the deceased person.

Your claim may be filed in civil court, or it may have to go through a probate court, unless the deceased person set up a living trust or other estate planning measure that allows for the avoidance of probate court. In the probate court proceeding, a representative or surviving family member will likely stand in the shoes of the deceased defendant.

What Do I Do First?

You start by filing a lawsuit against the driver just as a person would in any other car accident suit. You may also have to submit a creditor’s claim to the probate court. To file a claim with the probate court, you must do so within four months of the Notice to Creditors publication. This is a notice usually published in newspapers to let creditors (such as banks) know that the debtor has passed on and creditors must refer to the deceased estate when seeking debts owed.

After you file a claim, the deceased’s representatives will be served with a copy of the notice. If the representative rejects the claim, you can sue the estate, as long as you do so within three months of the rejection. The representative of the estate, who is in charge of distributing it to beneficiaries, is also responsible for that person’s debt, and they will make decisions on the person’s behalf.

Find a Nashville Injury Lawyer for Car Accident Claims

Make sure you file your claim before the deadline passes. In Tennessee, if you are suing the state directly, you have up to year after the person’s death to file a claim against his or her estate. In some cases, you have less than a year, so it helps to discuss your potential claim with a Nashville lawyer to find out exactly what your options are.

Probate courts are notoriously backlogged with complex, contentious cases. This is not a path you want to navigate alone. As Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Contact an attorney in Nashville to learn more about your options for seeking recovery after a car accident.