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Can I File a Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawsuit if the At-Fault Driver was Fatally Injured?

catastrophic damage to front of carAnyone involved in a crash could suffer severe injuries, including the driver who caused the accident. Sometimes the at-fault driver dies while the victim survives.

This can raise questions in victims’ minds. Can they still seek compensation from the at-fault driver? Does his or her insurance policy still provide coverage?

Below, Schmidt Kramer’s licensed attorneys explain your potential legal options in this situation. If you were involved in a crash in Harrisburg and the liable driver did not survive, call us to schedule a free legal consultation. There are no upfront costs to hire our services, and we have obtained millions for our clients.

Need help recovering compensation for a crash? Call Schmidt Kramer today: (717) 727-2550.

How a Crash Could Fatally Injure the At-Fault Driver

There are many reasons why the at-fault driver could get killed in a collision:

  • Impaired driving: At-fault drivers often get killed in crashes because they were driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Impaired driving crashes can be incredibly dangerous, as impaired drivers are more likely to engage in reckless behaviors.
  • Speeding: High-speed impact collisions can be too much for the body to handle. Drivers could be killed instantly or succumb to their injuries hours or days later.
  • Getting ejected from the vehicle: Critical injuries may occur if the at-fault driver’s vehicle rolls over or if he or she is ejected from the vehicle due to not being buckled up.
  • Traumatic brain injuries: Even drivers who buckle up may suffer a traumatic brain injury during a crash with a violent impact, especially one that occurs at high speed.
  • Preexisting medical issues: Any preexisting medical issues, such as a traumatic brain injury, could make it harder for an at-fault driver to recover after a severe crash.
  • Explosions/fires: If the collision causes an explosion or a fire breaks out, the at-fault driver could suffer severe burns, especially if he or she gets stuck inside the vehicle.
  • Getting submerged under water: If a vehicle gets submerged under water, the driver might not be able to get out, especially if he or she passes out. This could result in drowning.

Does the At-Fault Driver’s Death Affect Your Pennsylvania No-Fault Claim?

No, the at-fault driver’s death does not affect your no-fault coverage.

Pennsylvania’s no-fault insurance system provides compensation for the policyholder’s medical care, no matter who is at fault for the collision. The at-fault driver’s death has no effect on your ability to claim compensation from your personal injury protection (PIP). If you have PIP coverage, you can use it after the accident.

Our Harrisburg auto accident lawyers can explain your legal options after a crash where the at-fault driver died. An initial consultation is 100 percent free.

Will the At-Fault Driver’s Car Insurance Still Cover the Accident?

If the at-fault driver had liability insurance, it will still cover the accident. The at-fault driver’s death does not affect insurance coverage for the crash. If you suffered damages covered by the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, you may be eligible to seek compensation for those damages.

That said, as a no-fault insurance state, many Pennsylvania auto accident claims are resolved through claims with the victims’ own insurance company. You may not need to file a claim with the liable driver’s insurance, unless the cost of your damages exceeds the limits of your own coverage.

The type of no-fault coverage you purchased is another factor that may impact your ability to seek additional compensation for your damages. If you bought limited tort coverage, you cannot step outside of the no-fault system to recover compensation for pain and suffering. The only exception is if you suffered a serious injury, as defined by state law. If you bought full tort coverage, however, you would have unlimited right to sue.

Whether you are filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit, you are seeking compensation from an insurance company, not the deceased driver or his or her family. There is no reason to be concerned that you are taking money from a grieving family. In fact, they probably will not even be involved in the legal process. Your lawyer is going to be dealing with the insurance company.

What Happens if the At-Fault Driver Was Uninsured?

This is what uninsured motorist coverage is used for. You can file a claim if the other driver is uninsured, such as if he or she never bought a policy or his or her coverage lapsed because a premium was not paid.

However, uninsured motorist coverage claims can be complicated, which his why it is important to work with an experienced lawyer.

Lawsuits Against the Deceased’s Estate?

In some situations, it might be possible to seek compensation from the estate of the deceased driver. However, this is a highly unlikely scenario. The vast majority of car crash claims are resolved through insurance settlements.

It is important to remember that most people do not have the assets to cover the cost of car crash damages, especially if you have severe injuries. Insurance companies have the finances to cover medical care, lost wages and other damages from a collision.

Injured by a Reckless Driver in the Harrisburg Area? Call Schmidt Kramer Today

The legal process can be a lot less stressful for victims who have an experienced lawyer at their side. He or she can fight for your interests while you focus on healing and following the doctor’s orders.

At Schmidt Kramer, we are dedicated to helping those injured by negligence secure justice and favorable compensation. We have served the injured in the Harrisburg area for decades and have recovered more than $100 million on their behalf.

You do not need to handle the legal process alone. Call Schmidt Kramer today: (717) 727-2550.