What Happens When a Plaintiff Dies

I was recently asked what happens to a case when the plaintiff dies while the case is pending. The death of a plaintiff in a tort case ends the claim for pain and suffering but not the expense to the estate.

If a person dies while their case is pending for say injuries in a motor vehicle collision, the portion of the claim that exists for the pain and suffering is lost. There is no logical explanation for such a rule. The person may have suffered for years before dying of an unrelated issue.

The key here is to be sure the person dies from an unrelated injury. One must first determine there is no causal connection for which the claim could be amended to a wrongful death. If that is not the case, then all that pain and suffering is no longer an available claim.

However the cost to the person for medical care and for lost wages would still be available. Unfortunately, the amount is usually small in comparison to the pain and suffering and most people do not pursue that remedy.

Sometimes, with the right demand, in a clear liability case, the defense will tender the amount of the bills to end the case. Remember however, there are liens which may attach to those proceeds which is a topic for another BLOG.

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