In a fatal car accident, both people may die as a result. As a surviving relative of the person who was not at fault in the accident, you may wonder if you can still file a wrongful death case since the person who would have been the defendant is no longer alive.
According to the Texas Constitution and Statutes, you still have a right to file a claim, but you will file it against the person’s estate.
Who becomes the defendant
The law says that the executor or administrator of the at-fault party’s estate is who you will name in your lawsuit. You are not suing that person directly as he or she has no actual liability in the case. Instead, you are bringing a claim against the estate, which is the responsibility of the executor or administrator.
What happens next
The court will consider the case in the same way it would if the defendant was still alive. His or her death has no effect on your case and ability to bring your claim, and you have the right to seek the same damages you would regardless of the circumstances. If the court rules in your favor, it will issue an order against the estate that the executor or administrator must follow.
The money owed to you in damages the court awards becomes part of the debts of the estate. When the estate goes to probate and the court orders payments of debts, you will then receive your payment from the estate. Do note that if the estate does not have enough money to pay your judgment, you may only receive a portion of it.