What Are My Options for Filing a Claim if the At-Fault Driver Died?
Becoming involved in a vehicle accident is stressful, whether you are fully or partially at fault for it or didn’t contribute to its occurrence at all.
Arkansas law affords you the right to seek compensation for your injuries and other accident-related damages by filing a claim with the at-fault motorist’s insurer so long as you are deemed to be less than 50% liable for its occurrence.
However, not all drivers who are at fault for a crash survive it. What options do you have for seeking compensation for your damages in situations like these?
How the Arkansas Car Accidents Claims Process Works
The state of Arkansas is an at-fault state. This means that a person who causes an accident must bear the responsibility for the injuries and damages caused by it. Someone who suffered injuries in a car accident has three options for recovering compensation in their case, including filing a:
- Third-party claim directly with the at-fault motorist’s insurance company
- Claim with their own insurance company
- Personal injury lawsuit
Fortunately, Arkansas is among the six states has an add-on no-fault law in place. This law allows policyholders to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to help pay for accident-related medical expenses regardless of who is deemed to be at fault for the accident.
The add-on no-fault law also removes restrictions injured motorists are subjected to when attempting to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
How Do Injured Motorists Prove Fault Following a Fatal Accident?
The burden to prove a motorist’s fault for a crash belongs to the injured driver.
It’s critical that you know that a motorist isn’t automatically deemed negligent simply because they died in an accident. The other motorist’s fatality may make proving liability even more challenging since that person can’t provide their own account of the events leading up to the crash.
Gathering evidence is key to building a strong case against the deceased before you even consider pursuing compensation from any insurance company. You must compile the following pieces of evidence to prove liability:
- Witness statements
- The accident report
This information will help your lawyer build a strong case against the deceased and prove that the Little Rock crash was due to his or her negligence.
Keep in mind that despite your efforts to build a strong case, insurers are big businesses always looking to hold on to their funds, and thus they may undervalue your claim.
Options for Recovering Compensation After a Crash With a Deceased At-Fault Motorist
We have to admit that recovering compensation when the other motorist has died might be a little bit complex, but that does not mean that you cannot pursue compensation. Here are some options you can pursue:
File a Claim Against the Deceased’s Insurance Policy
The first step would be to identify whether the deceased motorist had insurance and, if so, what their policy limits are. You can recover compensation by filing a claim against their policy if liability for the accident is clearly theirs.
However, keep in mind that you can only recover compensation up to the amount of their policy limits. You will need to confirm whether you have underinsured motorist coverage if you need to recover more than that.
Also, since Arkansas subscribes to the comparative negligence doctrine, you may not be able to recover compensation equal to any percent liability you assumed for a crash.
Now, what if the at-fault driver had no active car insurance? This is another question that baffles many. This brings us to our second option: filing a claim with your own insurance company.
File a Claim With Your Own Uninsured Motorist Coverage
This coverage is meant for special situations like becoming involved in accidents with a driver who didn’t purchase insurance or allowed their policy to expire without renewing it. It also covers hit-and-run accidents.
In such cases, you are allowed to file a claim against your own uninsured motorist coverage. In Arkansas, this isn’t mandatory, and most drivers might choose to reject it due to its additional cost.
So, what if the deceased at-fault driver had no active car insurance and did not have uninsured motorist coverage? This brings us to our third option for filing a claim if the at-fault driver dies in an Arkansas crash.
Suing the Deceased’s Estate
If the deceased driver does not have enough insurance and there isn’t enough uninsured motorist coverage to compensate the victim, then the next option would be to let your lawyer file a creditor claim against the deceased’s estate for your damages.
In this situation, you’ll have to go through a probate process in the county where the decedent resided prior to their death. Generally, any assets that they had would go to their heirs. However, creditors must be paid off first before inheritances are divided up. You’ll first need to prove that the decedent was at-fault for the crash in civil court before you’ll be entitled to a portion of the decedent’s estate, though.
Know that it’s quite common for an accident claim to be filed against the deceased’s estate. This is because it is common for people with large estates to have insurance policies with higher coverage limits. Also, those with small estates tend to have little to no insurance since they cannot afford high coverage costs. Therefore, it’s unlikely for the issue to be solved through the deceased’s estate.
Where To Turn To Recover Compensation After a Fatal Crash
Becoming involved in an accident can be scary and very devastating, especially if the at-fault driver passed away. Filling a personal injury lawsuit might seem complex and intimidating. However, hopefully, this article has proven that there are various options for recovering compensation in your case.
While you can file a claim with an insurer by yourself, it’s not advisable that you do so, especially when a fatality is involved. Our attorneys have experience in handling complex cases like this and would like to help you navigate the legal system as you pursue compensation in yours. Consider sending us a message to tell us about your crash.