How to File Suit In Georgia Against a Deceased Driver

A common question our Atlanta car accident injury lawyers receive after a severe accident is whether a claim can be made if the other driver was killed in the wreck?  We understand this is a difficult and sensitive subject, but the answer is “yes, you can.”  And, even though the at-fault driver died in the crash, his or her car insurance will defend the claim – assuming they were insured.

How does the process of suing an Estate work?

There are several things to know:

Statute of Limitations:  The statute of limitations will be tolled during time that the defendant’s Estate is being Administered.  This means that the normal two-year Georgia statute of limitations for personal injury is extended.  The two year period will toll, or not begin to run, until a Georgia Probate Court appoints an Administrator.

Appointing an Administrator: If the deceased’s family or representatives have not set up an estate, you may do so on your own or through your attorney.  Pro Tip: You can file for an Administrator to be appointed in a favorable jurisdiction.  You may name the County Administrator as the Estate’s representative.  The law governing this process is found at O.C.G.A. 53-6-40.

Plaintiff vs. Jane Doe, Administrator:  The lawsuit that you file after an Administrator has been appointed will be styled or titled – Plaintiff vs. Jane Doe, Administrator of the Estate of (deceased), Defendant.

How to File A Petition to Appoint A County Administrator in a Georgia Probate Court

You will file a Petition with the Probate Court in the County you wish to file the lawsuit in.  The Petition should identify the nature of the action and that the appointment of a count administrator is necessary to make it possible to start or continue a lawsuit.  O.C.G.A. 53-4-6-40.

If a County does not already have a county administrator, you may have the clerk of court of the superior court appointed to serve as the administrator for the purpose of commencing the lawsuit.  This process is allowed by O.C.G.A. 53-6-39.

Example of a case where having an administrator appointed allowed our client to win

Our client was a temporarily unemployed school bus driver in her late 50s.  She was crashed into at an intersection by a driver who ran a red light.  Unfortunately, the at-fault driver was killed.  Our client suffered injuries to both wrists, and needed surgery, which she was not able to afford.  We were able to have an administrator of estate appointed allowing a lawsuit to be filed.

The at-fault driver’s insurance company hired a lawyer to represent the Estate and fought hard.  After a four day Jury trial, our client was awarded enough money to pay for the surgery she needed as well as a good deal of compensation for pain and suffering.

Talk with our attorneys at no cost

With offices in Atlanta at 1201 Peachtree Street, N.E., Atlanta 30309 and on the South Side at 151 N. Main Street in Jonesboro, our car accident lawyers are ready to help you today.  Our consultations are free and same-day.  Contact us with any questions about Georgia car accident law. 770-400-0000 (dial 770-Four-Million).

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