Losing a loved one in a truck accident can be a devastating experience that can leave family members with unanswered questions and emotional pain. In the aftermath of such an accident, you must understand your legal options, especially if the negligence of another person or entity caused the accident.
Please speak with a Penn Kestner & McEwen truck accident attorney as soon as possible so we can get to work obtaining the compensation your family deserves. You can call (800) 732-3070 or contact us online for a free consultation.
How Common are Fatal Truck Accidents?
Truck accidents are unfortunately common in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 4,965 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks in 2020, representing a 1% decrease from the previous year. In addition to fatalities, there were 146,930 injuries in crashes involving large trucks.
What’s the Most Common Cause of Fatal Truck Accidents?
The most common causes of truck accident fatalities include the following:
- Driver error: This can include speeding, distracted driving, fatigued driving, and other forms of negligence on the truck driver’s part.
- Vehicle maintenance issues: Trucks require regular maintenance to ensure they operate safely. Failure to properly maintain a truck can lead to severe accidents.
- Poor weather conditions: Rain, snow, and other severe weather can make driving more difficult and increase the risk of accidents.
- Improperly loaded cargo: Cargo that isn’t properly secured or distributed can cause a truck to become unstable and lead to accidents.
- Equipment failure: Mechanical failures, such as brake failure or tire blowouts, can cause a truck driver to lose control of the vehicle and cause an accident.
Who’s at Fault for a Loved One’s Death?
Determining who’s at fault for a loved one’s death in a truck accident can be a complex process that may require the assistance of an attorney. In some cases, the fault may lie with the truck driver. In others, it could be the trucking company or another third party.
For example, the trucking company or maintenance provider may be held liable if the accident occurred due to a mechanical failure the company or provider could have prevented with proper maintenance. The company responsible for loading the truck could face liability if the accident occurred due to improperly secured or distributed cargo.
If the trucking company hired a driver with a poor driving record or failed to properly train the driver, the company may be liable for any accidents caused by the driver.
What’s a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal action brought by the family members of a person who has died due to someone else’s negligence or intentional act. The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to compensate the family for losing their loved one. Also, to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed against multiple parties. Including the driver, the trucking company, or other parties involved in a truck accident.
Who Can File a Lawsuit After a Fatal Truck Accident
In most cases, the deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, or parents can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Other family members or individuals who were financial dependents may also be eligible to file a lawsuit.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The amount of time you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit after a fatal truck accident varies by state. Each state has its statute of limitations, which is the time you have to file a lawsuit after an accident. In general, the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is two to three years from the accident.
There may be exceptions to the statute of limitations in certain circumstances. For example, if the responsible party deliberately concealed their actions or if the victim was a minor. Consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.
What Damages Can You Recover on Behalf of Your Loved One?
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the family members of the deceased may be able to recover the following damages.
- Medical expenses: If the deceased person received medical treatment before passing away, the family might be able to recover compensation for those expenses.
- Funeral and burial expenses: The family may be able to obtain compensation for the cost of the funeral and burial.
- Lost income: If the deceased person was the primary breadwinner for the family, the family may be able to recover compensation for the income the deceased would have earned if they had not died.
- Pain and suffering: Family members may be able to sue for the pain and suffering their loved one experienced before passing away.
- Loss of companionship: They may also be eligible for compensation regarding the loss of companionship and emotional support their loved one provided.
- Punitive damages: In some cases, the family may recover punitive damages. They punish the responsible party for their actions and deter others from engaging in similar behavior in the future. However, juries rarely award punitive damages.
Do I Need to Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney?
While it’s possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit without an attorney, it’s not recommended. Wrongful death cases can be complex, and the legal process is challenging to navigate. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights, gather evidence to support your case and negotiate with insurance companies and other parties involved.
If you’re considering filing a lawsuit after a fatal truck accident, consult with an experienced attorney ASAP. An attorney can help you understand your legal options and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process.