Catlettsburg, KY asked in Civil Litigation for District of Columbia

Q: What forms or action needs taken on behalf of client legal rep in a current litigation or court case if untimely death?

The client or plaintiff has legal rep . In case of untimely death. What action does legal rep need to do to continue court case

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in District of Columbia

A: It depends on whether the type of claim is one that survives the death of the party in the case. Some claims do not survive and must come to an end (libel actions, for instance; child support/alimony and custody cases; etc.). others, such as contract actions, claims for damages caused by another'e negligence, etc., continue and remain viable.

in those cases, the claim becomes the responsibility of the deceased party's estate, and the Personal Representative then takes over the role of the party in the case, and assuming the PR continues with the deceased party's lawyer, the representation continues. The family of the deceased party/client would need to open an estate, so of course the lawyer can assist in that process or refer the family to an estate lawyer to get the estate open. In all likelihood, if there is active litigation pending, and it is the type of claim that survives the death of the party, then the lawyer will need to file a motion to stay proceedings pending the opening of an estate and appointment of a PR to participate in the suit.

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