My Father was killed by a drunk driver two years ago. He had nothing - no assets, no will. At the time of his death, we paid for his funeral costs but we did nothing in terms of probate or an estate. He literally had nothing and lived in a one room apartment with his girlfriend. My brothers and I are now settling with the insurance company of the negligent driver. Does the money pay directly to us, or to an "estate" that has not been established yet? The reason I'm asking is because I do not know if he had any debts (For example, the hospital where he was brought). Do they have a right to the wrongful death insurance payout? The amount we can get from the ins. co is likely so low that it may not be worth it if the hospital etc may come after it for payment. This is in WA state.
The money would ordinarily be paid to the Estate, although most states do have a expedited procedure for small estates. You should not be settling a wrongful death suit without the guidance of an experience attorney.
If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Stewart & Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore, NY 11710 Telephone -516.512.6333 Email - [email protected]
There may be a process for a special administrator to be appointed. Your wrongful death statute probably directs how the money is paid out from there. This is too complicated for you to handle on your own. Not to mention it's not really a DUI question. You would get better responses by posting it on the personal injury inquiry.
I am sorry to hear about your tragic loss. It is very important that you speak to attorney before attempting to settle anything. There could be claims against other parties that you have not considered. For example, there may be a claim for over-service if the drunk driver was served at a public establishment. There may be a claim for unsafe road design if that contributed ot the cause of the collision. There may be a claim against the car manufacturer if the airbag failed, or the seat-belt or something else. Those claims may be impacted or barred if you settle a claim against the driver now. There also may be UIM insurance available that you must put on notice before you settle with the 3rd party insurance company. It is important that you have an experienced attorney evaluate the case and advise you before you make any decisions.
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