A South Florida injury lawyer can give you advice if you were injured as a result of negligence by someone who died in the accident itself or soon thereafter. A personal injury claim doesn’t die when the defendant does, though there can be complications because the case will be filed not against the person, but his or her estate. Typically though, it will still be an insurance company that stands in to represent the defendant and that ultimately foots the bill – especially in Florida car accident lawsuits.
An appellate court in California recently addressed several issues that arose from such a situation in Meleski v. Estate of Holtlen, where a plaintiff sued the estate of a decedent, alleged to have been the at-fault driver in a crash in which plaintiff was injured. Although this was an out-of-state case, the same general principles apply with regard to Florida injury litigation.
In this case, plaintiff was injured when defendant ran a red light, colliding with her vehicle. Unfortunately, by the time plaintiff filed her lawsuit, defendant was deceased, apparently of unrelated causes. Decedent had no estate from which she could recover, but he had purchased an auto insurance policy for $100,000 that covered the accident. Plaintiff brought her complaint pursuant to the state’s probate statutes, which allowed her to serve her complaint on the insurance company directly and recover damages from that policy, though limiting recovery of damages to policy limits. Continue reading