How can Families Pursue Wrongful Death Lawsuits Due to Fatal Truck Accidents?
A fatal accident, regardless of the cause, is a devastating experience for any family to experience. It can be even more traumatic and severe when it involves trucks, given the violence associated with these accidents. Trucks are larger and heavier than cars, meaning they damage vehicles and injure drivers more severely.
When a loved one is killed in a truck accident, there can]. be additional complications, given that many companies hire independent contractors to drive their truck, which absolves the parent company of any wrongdoing. Others attempt to argue that their driver was not operating during their regular business hours at the time of the accident.
When you hire a truck accident lawyer, they will help you build a case and gather evidence against the driver and their company. There are several rules and regulations drivers must follow, and a lawyer can investigate to determine if all those regulations were properly followed.
What are Types of Truck Accidents?
Although trucks are prone to the same accidents as cars, their size and weight can subject them to certain accidents that are unique to them and can be more horrific. These accidents include:
- Jackknife truck accidents: This is when a tractor-trailer brakes suddenly and its trailer swings out to a 90-degree angle. Trucks in these conditions can easily rollover.
- Head-on and rear-end collisions: The circumstances for these accidents can be the same as with two cars. The results are more dramatic, as a truck can devastate a car if it collides with it head-on or from the rear.
- Rollover truck accidents: A driver could lose control of the vehicle, causing the truck to rollover. This is dangerous because not only is the truck rolling on the road, but also its cargo can spill and become a hazard.
- Blind spot truck accident: Trucks have larger blind spots than car, and when cars are in these spots, a truck will not know they are there and may inadvertently collide with the car when the truck attempts to change lanes.
- Underride accidents: These are the deadliest of truck accidents, as they occur when a truck suddenly stops and the car behind it gets wedged underneath the truck.
- Tire blowouts: There is physical evidence of these accidents throughout the roadway. The danger occurs when a tire explodes and hits a car or motorcycle. The rubber from the tire is moving at incredible speeds that can cause significant harm to an individual if it hits them the right way.
These accidents can all be horrific. If you are driving around a truck on the highway, remember to give them space to avoid any potential accidents.
Who can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
In New Jersey, only the representative of the estate can file a wrongful death suit on its behalf. If a person is killed without an executor being named, the court will appoint one. However, although only one individual may file a wrongful death suit, those who can receive compensation from the case include the following individuals:
- The decedent’s spouse
- The decedent’s children and/or grandchildren
- The decedent’s parents
- The decedent’s siblings, nephews, and nieces
Others outside of the list may receive a portion of the reward, but they must demonstrate to the court that they were financially dependent on the deceased. Traditionally, the spouse and children receive the compensation. Others may receive something if there is no spouse or children.
The rewards that a family can obtain include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. The economic expenses include medical expenses incurred prior to the person’s death and any other expenses associated with the death such as funeral expenses. These also include compensation for the salary the person was contributing to the family along with compensation for services they were providing, or the family will now incur because of the death.
Non-economic compensation will include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. Finally, there are instances in which the person liable for the death can be assessed punitive damages. This is a fee that serves as a punishment for the defendant. The family does not receive any of these charges.
Who is Liable in a Wrongful Death Truck Accident?
Suing a liable party in a wrongful death suit involving a truck accident can be more complicated than in a car accident. The primary reason pertains to the fact that although drivers are working for a company, in many instances the parent company uses independent contractors. This shields them from any liability should an accident occur.
However, that immunity from liability is not absolute. Truck drivers are regulated by federal guidelines that specify how long a driver can be on the road at one time, how long a driver must rest before being out on the road, and how often they can drive.
If the parent company places improbable deadlines on a driver that they feel obligated to meet, they might find themselves pushing past these regulations and driving later into the night beyond when they should be resting. That could put a level of liability on the company.
It is in your best interest to involve the parent company, because they have a greater access to funds that will help compensate you for your loss.
How can a Lawyer Help My Case?
If you lost a loved one in a fatal truck accident, a truck accident lawyer will help you obtain the compensation you deserve. They will also take the necessary steps to build your case. On retention of a lawyer, they will begin their investigation. They will take several steps, including the following:
- Send a spoliation letter: This will occur at the outset of the case and requires the trucking department to maintain its evidence.
- Inspect the truck: The lawyer will hire an expert who will inspect the truck to determine if there were any issues with it that contributed to the accident.
- Obtain important documents: There are a series of documents that the lawyer will collect from the trucking company, including the driver’s log, which contains information about how long the driver was on the road at the time of the accident. They will also collect any drug tests conducted on the driver.
- Obtain GPS device: Many trucks contain a GPS device or even an electronic logging device. This serves as a black box that records how long the truck was operating and even what was going on with the truck at the time of the accident, including its speed and whether the driver was applying their brakes.
- Interview witnesses: The lawyer will reach out to those who witnessed the accident and take their statement. The sooner this process takes place, the more accurate their recollection of the events of the accident.
- Hire accident reconstruction experts: The lawyer will hire an engineer, mechanic, or anyone who specializes in accident forensics. They will investigate the conditions of the road and use it to develop a re-creation of the accident.
Highland Park Truck Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Will See You Receive Justice for Your Devastating Loss
Losing a loved one in a horrific truck accident is a devastating blow that leaves you shocked and traumatized. There is no way to prepare for the emotional loss you have sustained, but there are ways to help you with the financial impact it will have on you and your family. The Highland Park truck accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr will help you through this difficult time. We will go after the trucking company and their driver to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-537-8570 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.