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Usually when a personal injury attorney works on a case, he or she helps an injured person get better. He or she helps them collect damages to pay for things like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. The object of litigation is to make the client “whole” again.
The situation changes when someone is killed in an accident. There are medical bills and property damages to pay for, but no one can make the injured person whole. There is no legal remedy that raises people from the dead.
When someone has been killed in an accident or by negligence the tort or cause of action is a called wrongful death, and it is brought by the estate of the deceased person. Learn more about wrongful death actions HERE.
Estates are always overseen by someone appointed to lead. That person is usually called an executor or personal representative. When there are no instructions as to who is supposed to be the personal representative, the family usually gets together and chooses someone. It is usually the deceased person’s spouse or one of the deceased person’s children.
The personal representative will have to file several documents with the court including an application to be appointed the personal representative of the estate. An estate-planning attorney or probate attorney can help you do this. The Advocates do not practice estate-planning or probate although they can provide you with a referral to another attorney who can help you.
Only the personal representative may act on behalf on the estate, so in theory only the personal representative may pursue a wrongful death or personal injury claim on behalf of the estate. However, if you are not the personal representative, and you think the estate should start working on a personal injury claim, you not barred from broaching the topic with the personal representative or calling an Advocate to ask questions. And if you think the personal representative is making bad decisions, you can always speak with an estate-planning attorney. Remember than an Advocate is available 24/7.
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