Four people were killed and one person was severely injured in a head-on collision between an SUV and a sedan on Wednesday, June 7th in Vass. Police reports indicate that the fatal crash took place on Lobelia Road in the area of McGill Road, in Vass, North Carolina at about 11:00 a.m.
Can I still sue for damages in North Carolina if the at-fault party died in the same accident?
72-year-old Gloria McCrimmon was behind the wheel of her SUV when the vehicle was hit by another driver who lost control of their car as it went around a bend in the road. McCrimmon and her sisters, 74-year-old Viola Medlin Singletary, and 63-year-old Cheryl Elaine Medlin, all residents of Southern Pines, died in the crash.
A spokesman for the North Carolina Highway Patrol stated that an eastbound 2023 Kia lost control on a curve on Lobelia Road and swerved over the center line, where it collided head-first with the 2019 Hyundai driven by McCrimmon.
The Kia’s driver also died on impact. A passenger in the Kia sustained serious injuries and was med-flighted to an area trauma center. Their current condition is unknown.
The identity of the driver has not yet been released as local police are working to notify the family.
An initial investigation indicated that reckless driving and speed on the part of the Kia were factors in the incident, which remains under police investigation at this time.
When the driver who was responsible for a car accident dies in the collision, the injured victim will, understandably, have questions concerning how to file a personal injury claim and how that claim could be impacted by the death of the negligent driver. Bringing a claim against the deceased tends to be more complex, particularly if the need to file a suit arises.
If you lost a member of your family in a North Carolina motor vehicle accident, the North Carolina car accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help you establish fault and protect your right to compensation. Call our law firm today to schedule your free and confidential case evalutaion.
Do I Have a Case if the At-Fault Driver Was Killed?
A claim for financial compensation ultimately comes down to whether or not another person’s negligence was the direct cause of your damages. So, it stands to reason that whether the at-fault driver lived or died is generally irrelevant to the legitimacy of your claim.
Like many others, North Carolina is an at-fault state. This means that all drivers are required to purchase liability insurance in case they are involved in an accident. If and when they are liable for a collision, the injured victim can then file a claim for financial recovery with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier, which will initiate the negotiation process in an attempt to reach a fair settlement.
Typically, the negotiation process is conducted between the injured victim and the liable driver’s insurance carrier, usually via their car accident lawyer. It rarely, if ever, involves the negligent driver.
So, no, the death of the at-fault driver is not likely to have much of an impact on your claim for financial compensation, unless the insurance provider refuses to make an equitable settlement offer. If a settlement cannot be agreed upon, it might become necessary to file a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Driver
If your needs for financial compensation are not being satisfied by the insurance provider, even though you have sufficient evidence to show liability, you may have no choice but to file a suit against the deceased’s estate.
This is where a claim for compensation with a deceased at-fault driver and a living at-fault driver differ. In a case that involves a driver who survived the accident, a lawsuit can be brought against that driver, defended, and eventually paid for, by the at-fault driver’s insurance.
In cases when the negligent driver died, however, the lawsuit would then be brought against the estate of the deceased, which is where things can get a little tricky. The at-fault driver’s insurance carrier will still defend the case and pay the damages, provided that there is enough insurance to cover them.
If there is not enough insurance coverage to meet the cost of your damages, the deceased’s estate will have to pay the difference. In order for that to happen, the process of probate must take place. Probate is when the court recognizes someone’s death and makes payments on their debts, one of which would now be you.
Our lawyers can help you file a claim with the probate court so you can collect the financial compensation you deserve, even if the driver who caused your accident did not survive.
Speak With a North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer
If you lost a loved one in a North Carolina car accident, it is essential that you speak with an experienced lawyer who can help you seek full and fair financial compensation. Schedule a free consultation with an experienced North Carolina wrongful death attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp by calling (833) 997-1774. We can give you the guidance and direction you need in your North Carolina wrongful death case.
- North Carolina Wrongful Death: Definition and Causes
- Economic Damages In A North Carolina Wrongful Death Case
- Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Claim in North Carolina
- North Carolina Wrongful Death Guide