Every year, several people lose their lives to car accidents in Miami, Florida, and throughout the United States. In the first quarter of 2021 alone, an estimated 8,730 people died in motor vehicle accidents throughout the country. Sometimes, the driver who caused the accident is the only fatal victim or one of the fatal victims of a collision.
When an at-fault party dies, the question the surviving victim asks is whether they can get compensation. This is because the demise of the person at fault does not change the fact that the victim did not cause the crash. It also does not change that the victim suffered injuries and needs to pay for medical treatment.
This article looks at what happens when the person at fault for a car accident dies. If you find yourself in a crash where the at-fault driver dies, you should contact Miami car accident lawyers immediately. A lawyer knows the steps to take to ensure you don’t miss out on your compensation.
Can I Get Compensation if the At-Fault Driver Dies?
If Florida were an at-fault car accident state, then the straightforward answer to the above question would be yes. But unfortunately, Florida is a no-fault accident state. So, by implication, auto accident victims must first turn to their insurance coverage for compensation.
This is why state laws mandate drivers to have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This insurance policy handles injuries and other losses from a collision. Thus, in line with this, a victim will not get compensation from the at-fault driver, whether dead or alive.
However, there is an exception to this rule. An accident victim can get a financial settlement if their injury is “serious.” Under Florida law, a serious injury is one that results in:
- Significant or permanent loss of an important body function
- Permanent wound within a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Significant or permanent scarring or disfigurement
Therefore, once a victim can prove any of the above, they don’t have to rely on their PIP coverage. Instead, they can make an insurance claim against the at-fault party’s insurance policy or file a personal injury lawsuit. The preceding is applicable whether the person at fault survives or dies in the crash.
How to Prove the Deceased Driver Was at Fault for the Accident
If you’ve ever been in a car accident or know someone who has, then you know the importance of collecting evidence after a crash. However, it is more essential if the person at fault for the collision dies. In cases where the driver passed away at the accident scene, you must be proactive and gather evidence.
As such, file a police report immediately, take photos of the crash scene and secure any video footage. Additionally, take down witness accounts, and most importantly, the details of the deceased driver. In cases where the deceased motorist was not immediately identifiable, like in fiery car accidents, you can get their information from the police.
Once you’ve gathered all the necessary evidence, you can hand them over to a Miami auto accident lawyer to commence the claim process. Again, you must have sustained a severe injury to be eligible to file a claim. In addition, the evidence will show how the deceased party caused the accident.
It is vital because the deceased at-fault driver’s estate managers or representatives can argue that they did not cause the accident. They could also claim you’re falsely blaming the deceased driver since they cannot defend themself. Thus, the evidence will show fault, dissuade doubts, and help you get compensation.
How Long Does It Take to Recover Damages Where the Person at Fault Dies?
Since every car accident case is unique, it might take from a few weeks to a month to get compensation. In addition, since the at-fault party died, you may have to file the claim with their estate instead of their insurance carrier. This is because when a person dies, their assets go into probate. Depending on the size of their estate and the presence or absence of a will, settling probate matters could take months or a year which might delay the claim. Thus, you must be conscious of the timeline to ensure the statute of limitations does not run out while you wait.
Speak With a Miami Car Accident Lawyer Today!
Whether the at-fault driver in a car accident dies or survives, our auto accident attorneys at Miami Lawyers 360 can help you get the maximum compensation. We are committed to helping accident victims get justice. So call today for a free case review.