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Gourley, Rehkemper & Lindholm

Claims Against Estates

Filing Lawsuits Against Deceased Persons

Some make the reasonable assumption that you can’t sue someone who isn’t alive.  However, this isn’t technically true.  While you cannot "literally" sue a dead person, it is definitely possible to file a claim against the deceased individual’s estate.  However, once a potential defendant dies, the requirements for filing a valid and enforceable claim against the estate vary dramatically from the requirements for filing a lawsuit against a living person.  Accordingly, if you are in an automobile accident that results in the death of another person who is or may be potentially at fault (or even partially at fault), it is imperative to seek competent legal counsel immediately.

Time is of the essence

To begin with, the time frames within which a claim can be filed after an Iowan’s death shrink considerably.  Depending on when an estate is opened and the executor’s performance of certain requirements under the probate code, an injured party may have as little as four months within which to file suit against the deceased defendant.   That time period can be even shorter if a potential claimant is given notice of his or her opportunity to file the claim by the estate’s administrator.  Once again, the moral here is contact an experienced Iowa injury attorney immediately should such a situation arise.

Name the correct party in lawsuits against estates

Secondly, the claimant must be sure to sue the correct party when filing a claim against a deceased individual.  The party having a right to sue remains the same, but the party to sue is not as clear cut. Generally speaking, a claim must be brought against the estate of the deceased by and through the executor or administrator thereof.  However, sometimes despite the cause of action accruing or, in other words, the accident happening that causes the death of the prospective defendant, no estate has been established.  A claimant can sometimes then petition the Court to open an estate for the purpose of having an appropriate defendant to sue.  Once again, while it may not seem like a very big problem, it is imperative that the correct person and entity be sued to ensure that the claim isn’t later barred on a technicality.

litigation process

While all of the foregoing considerations are important for preserving a claim, once the claim is properly made and suit filed, the litigation process is then quite similar to that of a regular civil litigation process.  

claims to the insurance company

To begin with, insurance companies generally pay claims for injuries suffered in a car accident.  Accordingly, the insurance company is generally required to indemnify the estate of a deceased insured just as they would with a living Defendant. 

estate lawsuits present legal strategies issues

Secondly, the actual litigation procedure is the same apart from the additional requirements for proceeding against an estate.  However, there can certainly be some strategic differences given that you are missing a key witness, the Defendant.  Once again these vary on a case by case basis and can only be given proper considerations by an effective claimant’s lawyer. 

estate claims often substantial

In summary, claims against the estates of the deceased are similar in some ways to claims against living counterparts; however, there are some very important differences as well.  Often times, claims against estates are substantial given that the accident was severe enough to cause the death of another person.  Accordingly, if the pitfalls of suing an estate are not properly heeded, the consequences can be dire including losing the ability of collecting extraordinary amounts of compensation

If you have a potential claim against an estate, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Gourley, Rehkemper & Lindholm for a confidential consultation. The consultation is at no charge to you, but the advice may be priceless.

Personal Injury Lawyers

Insurance companies know that "we don't send a boy in to do a man's job, we send the team" to protect our clients' rights. Lawsuits against estates have particularly difficult aspects to them unforseen in lawsuits against living defendants. We pride ourselves on our meticulous preparation, and our relentlessly determined focus on achieving only the best solutions for our clients. If you have been injured in an accident, please call us at 515.226.0500 or toll free at 1.866.743.6652

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440 Fairway Drive
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266
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Gourley, Rehkemper & Lindholm, PLC is an Iowa law firm located in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. The lawyers at Gourley, Rehkemper & Lindholm are licensed in the state of Iowa.

Attorneys Gourley, Rehkemper & Lindhom, and their associate Attorney Scott Michels frequently represent people who have been injured as a result of an accident occuring in the greater Des Moines, Iowa area, including West Des Moines, Iowa City, Johnston, Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, Marshalltown, Cedar Falls, and Ames, Iowa. They often help people who have sustained head and brain injuries, spinal cord injury, fractured bones and cuts, as well as injuries resulting from medical malpractice and dental malpractice. GRL Law's attorneys stand ready to help you find the best solutions for your particular situation, utilize protections under the law to secure your family and property, and get the compensation you deserve after a personal injury or wrongful death. Please contact the law offices of Attorney Cory Gourley, Attorney Robert Rehkemper & Attorney Matt Thomas Lindholm for a free legal consultation to better understand your rights under Iowa law, and make the next important decisions in recovering your losses.

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