I hit a parked car and later found out the owner had passed away

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I hit a parked car and later found out the owner had passed away

I was going to an appointment at a hospital and hit a car while trying to park. I waited around as long as I could but ended up having to leave a note with my information. I received a called today from a woman who was helping with various affairs of the owner of the vehicle, and she informed me that he had passed away. She was not the legal owner of the car, and it was likely to be inherited by the owner’s son. Will I be liable to pay the son for the damages?

Asked on October 3, 2016 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The estate, by its personal representative (administrator or executor) could sue you for the cost to repair, if you don't pay voluntarily, the same way that the owner could have sued you if he had not died: the estate has the same rights and same claims in this regard as the person who passed away. Of course, if they don't take legal action, you would not have to pay: only being sued (and losing--but if you hit a parked car, you would have been at fault and would lose in court if sued) can require you to pay. If the estate does not follow-up, therefore, you would not have to pay.


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