Many people wonder what happens if a person involved in a lawsuit passes away. This is a common question, and one that some people worry about when they are thinking about filing a lawsuit. Other times, people who have already been sued—known as “defendants” in the lawsuits—think that if the person who sued them dies, they are off the hook. This is almost never true.
When a party to a lawsuit dies, there is a threshold issue that must be resolved: whether it is the type of lawsuit that “survives” the person’s death. In California, for the most part, legal actions can continue after a party dies. However, there are some important exceptions to this rule:
- If a defendant dies, claims for punitive damages against him or her do not survive.
- If the person who filed the lawsuit dies (known as the “plaintiff”), any claims for “pain, suffering, and disfigurement” do not survive except to the extent the decedent suffered before death.
If the lawsuit or claim is one of the types that survives the death of the injured person, the next step is to follow the laws that govern how the claim must proceed moving forward.
The law sets forth specific procedures that must be followed to continue litigation after a party dies. The law also places strict time limits within which these actions must take place to allow an action to survive. It is critical to follow these procedures and time frames exactly or the right to continue the suit may be lost.
Experienced personal injury lawyers are very familiar with the detailed processes and time limits set forth in California law and know how to use the relevant laws to protect the interests of their clients.
If you need the advice of an experienced accident lawyer, contact the San Francisco personal injury attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP right away at 888.777.1776. Call today, as delay may harm your case.