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Can I File a Lawsuit if the At-Fault Driver Died in an Auto Accident?

Understanding Your Rights if the At-Fault Driver Died in an Auto Accident in New Mexico

Being involved in a car accident is a frightening thing. No one ever expects to be involved in a car accident, yet people are injured every day all across the United States. If a person is injured in a car accident and the other driver is at fault, it may seem clear to sue the other driver to recover compensation for your injuries and financial losses. However, what happens if the at-fault driver dies in the car wreck? Things get a bit more confusing when this occurs which is why victims and their families need an experienced auto accident lawyer in Albuquerque, New Mexico to represent them. The question then becomes whether or not you can sue for compensation if the at-fault driver died in an auto accident. If you or your loved one was injured in a car accident involving a deceased at-fault driver, you should contact our car accident lawyers today. We understand how complicated this type of case can be, and are ready to recover the compensation that you are entitled to for your injuries.

Here at the Caruso Law Offices, P.C., our compassionate and experienced team can help you and your family recover the compensation that you deserve after a serious, catastrophic, or fatal motor vehicle accident.  We know how to protect your rights to compensation by fully investigating a claim, working with experienced experts, and applying the law through our vast knowledge of the legal system and how to handle these types of injury cases.  If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a car or truck where the at-fault driver died, call to schedule a FREE appointment with our personal injury law firm for help.

Filing a Claim or Lawsuit Against an At-Fault Driver

Filing a claim or lawsuit against an at fault driver can be complicated and confusing, but not impossible. Victims injured in a car accident involving a deceased, at-fault driver may still be able to file a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover compensation for their injuries. Filing a claim against a deceased at-fault driver can be complicated because you will need to figure out who to serve the lawsuit against.  This is usually the estate, but in some situations when an estate is not opened, it could have to be against the executor or beneficiaries—or even compel you to open an estate and get limited letters testamentary in order to commence an action. 

While this type of case may be more complicated, it still follows many of the same basic principle of proving liability against the other driver — whether that is the driver of a car or a truck driver who was negligent. There are four elements of a negligence claim. All four elements must be met in order to prove that the other driver was driving negligently. The four elements include the following:

  • Duty – Duty refers to the fact that the driver had a responsibility to exercise proper caution while operating their motor vehicle.
  • Breach of Duty – Breach of duty refers to whether or not the defendant breached the duty. The court looks to see is the defendant was doing or not doing something wrong that resulted in the accident, and whether or not another reasonably prudent person was driving the vehicle they could have avoided the accident.
  • Causation – This element is in regard to whether or not the defendants actions actually caused the victim his or her injury. 
  • Damages – This is the final element, which requires that the court is actually able to compensate the victim for their injuries.

In cases where the at-fault driver is deceased due to the accident and a lawsuit is required due to insufficient compensation or denial of compensation by the insurance company, the lawsuit is actually against the defendant’s estate rather than the defendant themselves. Liability insurance would still be defending the case and paying the damages, but if there is not enough insurance to cover the costs it can be more complicated. In the case of the insurance not being able to fulfill the full amount of damages that the victim is entitled to, the defendant’s estate may pay the difference. This requires a process called probate, which refers to a court acknowledging the defendant’s death, and makes payments on that person’s debt. 

Seriously Injured and the At-Fault Driver Died in an Auto Accident?  Call Us

Here at the Caruso Law Offices, P.C., our experienced auto accident lawyers in Albuquerque, NM can help you and your family recover compensation when the at-fault driver died in an auto accident.  These are difficult cases but we have over 35 years of experience fighting back against some of the largest defense law firms and insurance carriers in the region.  To learn more about how our team can help you, call (505) 883-5000 to schedule a FREE consultation with our lawyers.

We handle causes throughout New Mexico, including Las Cruces, Santa Fe, Roswell, Cuervo, Rio Rancho, Clovis, Farmington, Hobbs, Albuquerque where our office is located, and anywhere else throughout New Mexico.  We also have a second trucking accident office in California, serving those in Inland Empire County and San Bernardino County, as well as those who have been catastrophically injured or wrongfully killed through California.  Please call to schedule for FREE appointment by dialing (505) 883-5000 or contact us through our website’s easy to use and convenient contact box available here.