What Happens If the At-Fault Driver is Killed in a Georgia Car Accident?

Key Points:

  • When the at-fault driver has been killed in a car accident, their automobile insurance is likely still responsible to defend the claim and pay any settlement or verdict.
  • If the claim cannot be settled without filing suit, you or your car accident lawyer may be able to file a lawsuit against the estate and, legally speaking, the case will proceed as if the driver were still alive.
  • If the deceased driver did not have car insurance, you may be able to make a claim against your uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage. If you have UIM on your policy, your insurance company may be responsible for coverage up to your policy limits.

When you are involved in a serious car accident in Georgia, the driver responsible for causing the crash can be held liable for the costs, even if that at-fault driver did not survive the collision. Whether it’s medical costs, lost wages, or past and future pain and suffering, you can hold the (deceased) at-fault driver and their insurance company responsible.

You May Still Have a Claim When the Other Driver Has Died

In Georgia, when the at-fault driver has been killed in a car accident, their automobile insurance or estate is likely still responsible to defend and pay the auto insurance claim.

It is important that the accident victim, or victims, contact the insurance company for the at-fault driver right away. Even though the driver died, their insurance information is probably listed on the police report because law enforcement databases often show which insurance company covers the cars involved in the wreck. If the driver’s insurance is not listed on the accident report, you or your attorney may send a notice of claim to the driver’s listed address with a request that their representative notify the insurance company.

Common Questions about At-fault Drivers

How does the claim get settled when the at-fault driver is deceased?

The deceased driver’s insurance company may be able to negotiate directly with you or your attorney. The at-fault defendant often does not need to sign a release, and the insurance company may be authorized to settle without the “permission” of the negligent driver

What if the claim cannot be settled, and a lawsuit is necessary?

If the at-fault driver’s family has established an estate, you or your car accident lawyer may be able to file your lawsuit against the estate and serve the administrator. Then, the estate will turn the lawsuit over to the decedent’s insurance company, who will defend the case and pay a settlement or verdict if you win.

You should know that the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in a car accident case is normally two years. However, the two-year period will toll, or not begin to run, until a Georgia probate court appoints an administrator.

If the deceased’s family or representatives have not set up an estate, you or your attorney may be able to have a representative appointed to administer it, giving you the ability to serve and pursue your lawsuit.

Note that you can file for an administrator to be appointed in a favorable jurisdiction and name the County Administrator as the estate’s representative under O.C.G.A. § 53-6-40. If a county does not already have an administrator, you or your attorney may have the clerk of the superior court appointed to serve as the administrator for the purpose of filing a lawsuit. O.C.G.A. § 53-6-39. An experienced local attorney can advise you about which jurisdictions are more favorable to car accident plaintiffs’ claims.

What happens if the Georgia driver who was killed did not have insurance?

If the driver who hit you did not have auto insurance and their estate lacks the assets to pay your costs, you may recover compensation by filing a claim against your uninsured motorist coverage. Assuming you have purchased UIM, your own insurance company may be responsible for coverage up to your policy limits.

Will it take longer to settle an accident lawsuit when the case involves the at-fault driver’s estate?

It may or may not. When a car accident lawsuit involves an estate, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will still defend the case. That said, the process can be more complex when dealing with an estate, particularly if a lawsuit is necessary, as there are additional legal steps to take.

For example, when it is necessary to file suit against an estate, it may be necessary to serve the administrator or even file a legal action to have an estate established and an administrator appointed, before the case may proceed. This can, of course, lengthen the amount of time your case may take. The executor or administrator of the estate is responsible for managing its assets and dealing with any claims related to the car accident.

On the other hand, if the insurance company is willing to settle the case without a lawsuit being filed, the case may not require any involvement with the decedent’s estate at all.

Case Study – Marietta, GA Accident – a passenger may have an injury claim against a deceased driver.

A fatal accident in which the driver in a single vehicle accident was killed and his passenger survived recently happened in Marietta.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the driver lost control of a BMW convertible on Lower Roswell Road, struck a mailbox, and went off the road. As the car left the road, it began to flip and came to rest against a utility pole.

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The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. His 34-year-old passenger was trapped in the vehicle, and firefighters had to extract her from the vehicle.

In a case like this, the injured passenger may have a negligence claim against the deceased driver who caused the accident.

As in most injury accidents, the victim would receive compensation by filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. This is true whether the driver is injured or killed.

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