Our Boston drunk driving accident lawyers understand that in many cases, the surviving heirs of deceased victims must open a probate estate before bringing a lawsuit in Superior Court.
According to a recent story from WGN, two occupants of a car were killed after the drunk driver behind the wheel ran off the road, through a barrier, and the car fell nearly 50 feet into a water-filled quarry. This occurred near Chicago.
The two passengers were not able to escape from the submerged car, and police divers recovered their bodies. It has been further reported that the driver was able to escape from the car and swim to shore. All occupants of the car were 21 years of age. Police have charged the driver with crimes related to a drunk driving fatality.
As your Boston drunk driving car accident lawyer can explain, it is often possible for the parents or other family members of deceased passengers to file a negligence lawsuit against the driver and his or her insurance company when seeking compensation for the tragic loss of life, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other damages caused by the driver’s negligence. There may also be the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the bar that served the driver, as we have discussed in other blog entries about dram shop liability.
In this type of action, it is necessary for the surviving family members to open an estate in the probate court for the county in which the victim lived. In Boston, that would be the Suffolk County Family and Probate Court located near Government Center.
It is almost certain a college-aged person did not have a last will and testament, so the probate court will appoint a family member as the administrator of the decedent’s estate. The administrator will file a lawsuit in the name of the estate. The surviving heirs of the decedent will be entitled to any money awarded in a settlement or by jury verdict if the Boston drunk driving car accident case goes to trial.
The Massachusetts laws of intestate distribution will determine the share each heir will receive from the personal injury lawsuit. As your lawyer can explain, this complicated area of law is governed by what courts and lawyers refer to as the table of consanguinity. If the decedent had a surviving spouse and no children, the spouse will get all the proceeds of the estate. If the decedent had a surviving spouse and children, the spouse and children will share the proceeds of the estate. In the case of young people who are not married and do not have any children, the parents of the decedent will inherit any money in the estate.
In some cases, the surviving spouse may be able file a separate claim in the lawsuit for loss of consortium. This is essentially placing a financial value on the intangible loss suffered when a spouse is killed by the negligent actions of another person, such as a drunk driver.
If you have been injured a Boston drunk driving accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
2 passengers dead after drunk driver crashes car into Naperville quarry, July 19, 2014 WGNTV.com
More Blog Entries:
MADD Working with NFL Teams to Curb Drunk Driving , July 3, 2014, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog