When a personal injury becomes a wrongful death

If a person suffers an injury in an accident, then he or she may choose to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. However, things can get complicated if that person passes away before he or she actually brings the suit. Should a person pass away before he or she initiates a personal injury suit, the survivors of the individual may have several options, depending on the nature of the case itself and the cause of death.

If a person plans to pursue a personal injury suit, but then passes away because of those same injuries, that person's heirs may choose to convert the personal injury suit into a wrongful death suit. This takes a good deal of preparation, and should not be attempted without significant due diligence. It is always wise to have an objective counselor guide a person's family and loved ones through such a difficult season.

Contrastingly, if a person suffers an injury that may justify a personal injury lawsuit, but dies of unrelated causes, the executor of his or her estate may still have the ability to pursue the lawsuit. While this is not always true, it is a fairly common practice.

If you believe that your loved one died because of injuries he or she suffered in an accident, you should not hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney to review the details of your circumstances. Professional legal counsel can help you make informed decisions about how to proceed and how best to honor the memory of the one you love, while protecting your own rights and interests.

Source: Findlaw, "Wrongful Death FAQ," accessed Aug. 25, 2017

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