What Happens to a Lawsuit When a Defendant or Plaintiff Dies?

Fishkill Injury Attorney Serving Wappingers Falls, Beacon, Lagrangeville and Nearby Areas of Hudson Valley

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In cases of car accidents or other catastrophic personal injury accidents, one or both parties can sustain serious medical complications as a result of the accident. Sometimes even, after a lawsuit is filed, one of the parties may die from their injuries before the conclusion of the suit. While unusual, this scenario is not unheard of, but many people are unaware of whether the lawsuit continues or not.

At the Maurer Law Firm in Fishkill, NY, attorney Ira M. Maurer is a nationally-recognized personal injury trial lawyer with three decades of experience handling all types of personal injury cases. Whether a defendant who caused a car accident through negligent driving dies before the suit is complete, or the plaintiff who was injured as a result of that person’s negligent driving dies, the lawsuit continues. Subtle distinctions between the plaintiff and defendant do exist, such as:

If a plaintiff dies: The beneficiaries and heirs to the estate inherit the lawsuit. The person named as the executor or administrator of the estate may continue the case on behalf of the deceased. In most jurisdictions, this person must file a notice of death and a copy of the death certificate to the court requesting that a successor be appointed within 90 days of the death. If the executor doesn’t complete this last step the lawsuit may be dismissed.

If a defendant dies: As with the plaintiff, if a defendant dies the suit is passed onto the deceased’s estate. Conversely, defendants do not have to file a notice of death, as they are not the ones who stand to lose if the lawsuit is dismissed.

Distinctions for criminal cases: Since these cases are brought on by the state or government, if the person charged with a crime dies, there is no defendant to prosecute and all pending charged against them are dismissed.

Cases such as these can become complicated, especially if the beneficiaries of the deceased do not agree on the successor chosen or the proposed settlement. That’s why it’s important to have the counsel of a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer like Ira Maurer on your side. He will help all those involved understand this area of the law if it happens to your case.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in any type of personal injury accident, please contact The Maurer Law Firm at 845-244-8343 for a free consultation. We proudly serve Fishkill, Poughkeepsie, and nearby areas in New York.