It is devastating to lose a family member in a car accident, especially when it was avoidable. When the accident was caused by an 18-wheeler, it can add confusion to an already stressful and painful time.
Dealing with a wrongful death after an accident with a commercial vehicle can be quite different and more complex than handling an accident with a passenger vehicle. That’s why it can be helpful to work with a fatal accident attorney who is familiar with 18-wheeler accidents.
Below are just some of the things you should consider when a family member is killed in an 18-wheeler accident.
Can I Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Texas, you may have the right to bring a wrongful death claim for the loss of your family member. The state permits you to file a wrongful death lawsuit if you are the spouse, child (including adopted child), or parent of the deceased. Siblings, grandparents, and other family members cannot bring a wrongful death claim.
If the family permits it and hasn’t filed its own wrongful death claim within three months of the accident, then the administrator of the deceased’s estate can file a claim.
Who Is Liable in a Fatal 18-Wheeler Accident?
While it may seem like the truck driver would be solely responsible for any accident that results in a death, that isn’t always the case. Depending on the facts of the accident, there may be other drivers involved who have some liability. The maintenance company for the truck or the company that loaded the truck may also be found at-fault for the accident.
If the driver of the 18-wheeler was working for a trucking company at the time of the accident, the trucking company itself may also be liable. That is because the trucking company is considered legally responsible for any employee who acts negligently or carelessly while on the clock.
With so many potential parties involved, it’s not easy to determine liability in a wrongful death case. An 18-wheeler accident lawyer can help you figure out which parties you can sue for damages.
What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?
While damages can never replace the person you lost, they can help relieve some of the financial burden that comes with the death of a family member. You may be able to recover lost wages and lost future earnings, loss of benefits, medical expenses incurred by your family member before their death, and funeral and related burial costs.
You may also be able to recover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of care. If the accident was caused by very reckless behavior on the part of the truck driver, such as driving while intoxicated, you may be entitled to recover additional punitive damages.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Under the Texas statute of limitations, family members must bring a wrongful death claim within two years of the death of a loved one. The two-year window begins on the date of death, which may or may not be the same date that the accident occurred.
This is an important detail to remember because failing to file a lawsuit within the appropriate two-year window can mean losing your right to bring a claim. When you work with a fatal accident attorney, they will make sure that you file all of the required information within the statute of limitations so your rights are preserved.
When Should I Contact an 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer?
Contacting an attorney after the death of your loved one may be the last thing on your mind — but it may be one of the most important things you do if an accident with a commercial truck led to their death. You should get in touch with an 18-wheeler accident lawyer as soon as possible after a collision, fatal or otherwise.
The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner they can start gathering and preserving evidence that may be vital in your case. A lawyer can handle conversations and negotiations with insurance companies and trucking companies so that you don’t have to. They can also make sure you have all of the documentation needed to prove any out-of-pocket expenses you incurred or any damages you’re entitled to.
Why Is Working with a Lawyer Beneficial?
Trucking companies and insurance providers will do what they can to avoid paying out a claim, or try to get you to settle for a lesser amount. When a family member is killed, it can be tempting to take a lowball offer so you can move on and not have to deal with aggressive claim adjusters and corporate lawyers.
But when your family member is killed in an 18-wheeler accident, you deserve to feel whole again. A fatal accident attorney can make sure your interests are represented and will do what it takes to get you the compensation you and your family deserve. They have the experience and skill to take on the big corporations so you don’t have to.
An attorney can obtain information about the truck driver, including driver logs and maintenance records, as well as information about the trucking company itself and any police reports from the accident scene. If needed, a lawyer can reconstruct the scene of the accident and talk to witnesses to piece together the details of what actually happened.
Your lawyer will take care of the paperwork, negotiations, and information gathering so you have time to grieve.
How FVF Can Help
Wrongful death suits involving commercial vehicles can be complicated and take a long time to sort out. When you work with an experienced 18-wheeler accident lawyer at FVF, you can feel confident that your family will be supported through a challenging time and that you’ll get the compensation you deserve.
We understand how difficult it is to lose a loved one in an accident. Our compassionate team is here to provide you with education and support in a no-pressure environment so that you can get answers to any of your questions as you decide how to proceed after a fatal accident. Contact us today to schedule a free, remote consultation with an 18-wheeler accident lawyer in Austin so you can start putting the pieces back together.