What Happens if the Person Who Hurt Me Has Died?

 I was hurt in a head-on automobile accident caused by a careless pick-up truck driver.  The driver that crossed the centerline and hit me died in the wreck.   Do I have legal rights against him even if he is dead?

Yes.   Although you can’t sue someone who is dead, you can sue his estate.   If an estate has not been opened for him, you (through your lawyer) can petition the court to have an estate opened so that you can sue it and collect the monies you are entitled to recover.  Any recovery would come from the liability insurance coverage that the decedent had that was applicable to the wreck and, to the extent that the damages awarded exceeded the insurance coverage, from the assets of the estate.

The fact that the person who hit you died does not relieve his insurance company of the obligation to defend the case and pay the monies to you that you are entitled to receive under the law (up to the liability insurance policy limits). 

An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to help you through this process.   Remember that in Tennessee a personal injury claim must be filed against the responsible people within one year of the date of the accident.   Under these circumstances you will need act even more promptly than usual because the lawyer you hire will need to do extra work to get an estate opened for the decedent so that suit can be filed within one year of the date of the accident.

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