After a Massachusetts car accident, those injured in the collision are entitled to bring a claim against the at-fault driver. Typically, a claim will accrue when the accident victim suffers injuries as a result of another’s negligence, regardless if the at-fault party is alive by the time the case goes to trial. Importantly, in situations where the at-fault party dies in the accident or before trial, accident victims are permitted to file Massachusetts car accident lawsuits against deceased defendants. However, in these situations, an injury victim may face challenges in establishing liability and collecting damages. Injury victims should have a Massachusetts injury attorney to assist them through these complicated lawsuits.
Typically, after a person dies, their assets and debts go through probate. Probate is a legal process designed to distribute assets and pay off debts to creditors before the decedents’ heirs and beneficiaries receive their intended gifts. When a decedent owes damages to an injury victim, the decedent’s estate is vulnerable to a personal injury lawsuit. In these cases, personal injury victims are possible creditors, and their damages are debts against the estate.
Generally, the burden of proof in negligence and wrongful death lawsuits is the same, regardless of whether the defendant is alive or has passed away. However, there are specific procedural requirements that plaintiffs must follow to preserve their right to recover against an estate. First, the statute of limitations in personal injury lawsuits against an estate is significantly less than when the defendant is alive. Massachusetts General Laws ch. 190, § 3-803(a) requires plaintiffs file their claims against an estate within one year of the incident giving rise to the complaint.
If there is no probate proceeding, victims should consider filing a lawsuit against the decedent’s spouse, child, or anyone else that inherited from the deceased. There are instances when an estate does not have sufficient funds to pay a plaintiff their full damages. However, an attorney can help get an accident victim the most that the estate can reasonably pay.
Filing a lawsuit against an estate may be necessary for a variety of reasons. For example, a Boston news source recently reported that a wrong-way driver died after colliding with another vehicle. Massachusetts State Police indicated that the 29-year-old driver was driving in the wrong lane when he hit the back of a truck and then crashed into an SUV. The wrong-way driver and a passenger in another vehicle died, and two others suffered severe injuries. In this situation, should they choose to, the other parties may file a negligence and wrongful death suit against the wrong-way driver’s estate.
Have You Been Injured in a Massachusetts Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of a Massachusetts traffic accident, you should contact the personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Barry Feinstein & Affiliates P.C. The attorneys at the law firm have extensive experience handling these challenging lawsuits. Establishing liability and collecting judgments from a deceased person’s estate can entail significant barriers, and it is crucial to have an experienced attorney navigate these cases. The attorneys at the firm can help you get the compensation you deserve. Compensation may include payments for medical bills, property damage, burial costs, and pain and suffering. Contact the law firm today at 800-262-9200 to schedule your free initial consultation.