Unfortunately, Texas leads the way when it comes to the number of fatal truck accidents as it continues to have more fatalities that involve large trucks than any other state, and it has been on the rise over a number of years. When this does happen, those who are family members of someone who has lost their life in a truck accident can seek compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
The truth of the matter is that large trucks weigh more than any other vehicle on the road, and the damages that they can cause is much more significant as well. A solid example of this is that while the number of deaths in traffic accidents has decreased, fatal truck accidents have increased.
This article will cover the basics truck driving accidents and fatalities, as well as what can be done in order to seek recourse if one has lost a family member in a fatal truck accident.
What causes most fatal truck driving accidents?
Not only do trucks weigh more than other types of vehicles on the road, but it can also take twice as long to stop a truck. There is no doubt that a semi is at a higher risk of causing an accident, and below you’ll see the most common causes of truck accidents involving fatalities today.
· Becoming distracted while driving.
· Cargo that is loaded incorrectly or not tied down properly.
· Drivers becoming tired after driving long hours.
· Lack of education and safety programs for truck drivers.
· Other drivers operating their vehicles in an unsafe manner.
· Overlooking the need for semi-truck maintenance.
· Not abiding by traffic regulations that are set forth.
· Speeding to get loads to a destination as quickly as possible.
· Using illegal substances or drinking while driving.
There are many other causes of truck accidents, but these seem to be the most common when we look at the current state of the roads. Whatever the case may be, there is still a chance that a fatal truck accident could have been prevented by the truck driver.
What Must Be Done When a Fatal Truck Accident Occurs
Any time that there is an accident of any kind, drivers are required by law to render aid to those who are injured (which means calling 911 for medical assistance if necessary) as well as provide their driver’s license as well as insurance information to the other party. If the other party in the accident isn’t alert enough to accept this information, then it must be provided to any other occupants of the vehicle or law enforcement upon their arrival.
If there is a fatality involved in the accident, laws tend to get more serious. Leaving the scene of a fatal accident could lead to fines, loss of one’s driving privileges, as well as prison time. While the situation may be stressful, it’s important to remain at the scene until law enforcement arrives and is able to clear the situation up.
Truck accidents that involve several cars or multiple fatalities may also be subject to investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. When this is the case, the federal government has teams of investigators tasked with responding to serious accidents anywhere within the United States. This is also more likely to happen when the accident occurs on an Interstate.
If the NTSB is dispatched, the scene will remain untouched until they have a chance to work with local investigators to conduct their investigation. Aside from being tasked with the responsibility to investigate major truck accidents, they also set forth regulations for truck drivers such as the requirement to report any accident in a commercial motor vehicle within 12 months. A lot of the time, if the NTSB is involved, the investigation could easily take several months to reach a conclusion.
The Process of Settlements with Fatal 18-Wheeler Accidents
To keep things simple, it’s best to get straight to the point. A demand is usually sent to the insurance company as well as the trucking company that seeks adequate compensation for those affected. When this is done, the insurance company will usually present a counter-offer to see if there is any possibility of settling as well as to test the waters.
More times than not, the first offer isn’t the best offer that they can make. What they want to know is whether they have an easy win or if they’re going to have to pursue a legal battle that involves a truck accident attorney who knows what they’re doing. It’s at this time your truck accident lawyer can either present them with another offer or file with the court that holds jurisdiction over the case.
Any time that a settlement can’t be reached, the case can be taken to court for a chance to prove who is to be held liable for the accident. If there is a need to do so, it can be presented in front of a jury where they will decide who was at fault as well as the amount of damages that should be awarded.
Potential Damages for Truck Accidents with Fatalities
While every situation is different, especially when it comes to truck driving accidents and fatalities, the potential damages that can be sought falls into 3 primary categories.
· Economic Damages
This includes but shall not be limited to the medical expenses that were accrued before the death occurred, loss of financial support, loss of benefits (such as medical insurance or pension plans), loss of inheritance due to the death being untimely, and burial/funeral expenses.
· Non-Economic Damages
This includes the loss of companionship (where a spouse has lost their loved one), emotional distress arising from the fatality, as well as pain and suffering.
· Punitive Damages
In any truck driving accidents and fatalities where the truck driver was found to have contributed to a harmful/reckless situation, they may be required to pay punitive damages. This is a form of punishment that is determined in court and is payable to those who qualify to act as parties in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Driving Accidents and Fatalities
Do fatal truck accidents go to trial?
While most fatal truck accidents will reach a settlement before it has a chance to reach court, it isn’t uncommon for them to see trial. Any time that an insurance company or trucking company doesn’t bring an adequate offer to the table, those filing for wrongful death have the right to take it to trial so that an ideal result is produced once the jury has the chance to examine the case.
Do I need a lawyer for a truck accident involving a fatality?
It’s strongly advised that you don’t try to handle a case involving a truck driving accident and fatalities yourself as neither the insurance company nor trucking company will come without legal representation. In order to ensure that you’re not taken advantage of and that wrongdoers are held responsible; you should seek the experience and knowledge of an attorney that specializes in truck accident lawsuits as they will know all of the ins and outs when it comes to these types of cases.
How many people die from truck accidents?
Over 4,000 deaths occur from truck driving accidents. A majority of fatalities are occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash followed up by pedestrians and bicyclists that were involved in truck accidents.
How are damages from a fatal truck accident divided up?
The damages are divided up based on how much damage has been caused as a result of the untimely death that occurred during the truck accident. For the most part, this is decided by the judge that is overseeing the case or the jury if the case has been taken to trial.
How long do I have to file for wrongful death from a truck accident in Texas?
According to laws in the State of Texas, you have up to 2 years to file a claim for wrongful death since it’s considered a civil lawsuit. Any case that hasn’t been filed before this time is up will be deemed as ineligible since it surpasses the statute of limitations.
Who can file a wrongful death claim in Texas?
Children of the deceased (including those who have been legally adopted), parents of the deceased, and the surviving spouse of the deceased are all eligible to file a wrongful death claim in Texas. Any siblings of the deceased are ineligible to seek damages for wrongful death in Texas.
Who is held liable for truck accidents that result in death?
This depends upon the nature of the truck driving accident and fatalities. If the trucking company didn’t fulfill their legal obligation and this resulted in the accident, they can be held responsible. Regardless, the truck driver is held responsible if their actions could have prevented the accident from happening, but fault must be proven for them to be held accountable.
Will insurance companies try to avoid settlement in truck accidents with fatalities?
If they think that the burden of proof doesn’t hold the driver or company responsible for the fatal truck accident, there is a chance they may try to avoid settlement. A lot of the time, they will try to get those affected to settle right away in order to avoid court. It’s best to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney who has previous success as a trucking accident attorney to ensure that things are done right.