Can you sue a dead person?
Yes, you can sue a dead person by suing that person’s estate. You are acting against the property of the dead person. The executor of the estate, or the person chosen to handle the estate, acts on behalf of the deceased. Executors are generally either the surviving spouse or child of the decedent.
How soon you pursue your claim could determine whether or not you can recover any money. A deceased person’s estate is most often sued in two situations: when the deceased had debts that needed to be paid back and when the deceased’s negligence resulted in harm or death to another person.
State laws specify how long creditors have to submit a claim to a decedent’s estate. After a person passes away, probate claims quickly expire, so it’s critical to take action right away. A claim informs the executor or personal representative of the estate that you expect payment of a debt. You might not be able to sue later if you don’t make a claim.
Here are some more aspects, aside from timing, to take into account when filing a claim against a decedent’s estate:
- Is your debt claim known to the executor? If so, a personal representative or executor is required to inform you and urge you to file a claim by a specific date. A creditor may attempt to use the inadequate notification to justify submitting a claim after the deadline.
- Are there any living relatives? State laws typically establish that surviving family members are not directly liable for a deceased person’s debts. State regulations may place restrictions on even spouses’ obligations to pay off joint debts. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act forbids debt collectors from using coercive or dishonest methods to persuade surviving family members to settle an estate’s debts.
Who do you sue when the person who caused the injury is dead?
The proper party is the estate of the deceased when the defendant passes away before a lawsuit is filed, whether during the accident or after and unconnected to it. When the probate process is ongoing, the plaintiff has the option of intervening or bringing a separate civil action with a move for scire facias and a suggestion of death.
The plaintiff’s attorney may decide to intervene in the probate action, depending on which probate court it is currently proceeding in. If so, the case continues in that court in the same manner as any other civil personal injury trial.
In the absence of active probate, the plaintiff’s attorney has two options: either proceed with a separate civil action and submit a move for scire facias substitution as described below or compel the probate of the case.
What do you do when a defendant dies during a lawsuit?
When a defendant dies during a lawsuit, courts have a procedure requiring the court clerk to compel the estate’s executor to appear and defend the lawsuit.
Practically speaking, until someone informs the Court, they won’t know the identity of the administrator or executor. The ideal course of action is to choose an administrator or executor, submit a death proposal, and then submit a motion where you specify the appropriate party to replace.
Finding the appropriate party is essential to your case. The lawsuit may be dismissed and eternally barred if the correct person is not found, sued, and served promptly. Before pursuing any type of legal action, it is always best to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Contact a Lawyer About Suing a Dead Person
It is vital to have a specialist wrongful death attorney on your side after the loss of a loved one. The Willis Law Firm has decades of experience helping injured Americans gain the payments to which they were legally entitled after suffering an injury or death of a loved one. Our wrongful death attorney is board certified and has obtained over $100 million for personal injury clients. He will put the same effort into your case.
After our free consultation, you can decide how you want to proceed. If you decide to make a wrongful death claim for damages, an immediate family member or designated representative of the victim’s estate can file such a civil lawsuit with help from a wrongful death lawyer dedicated to your attorney-client relationship. Call 1-800-883-9858 for a free case review to get your questions answered today.