Truck Accidents & Wrongful Death

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Truck Accident Wrongful Death Lawyers

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Thousands of people die in truck and large vehicle accidents across the U.S. every year. The majority of these fatalities in truck crashes involve passenger vehicle occupants. Truck drivers are better protected due to height and sturdier material of the truck. People traveling in smaller vehicles do not have such kind of protection. This is why they suffer a greater number of injuries and deaths in case of a collision. If a family member was killed in a truck accident, you’ll need the help of a qualified fatal truck accident attorney who focuses on trucking collisions & big rig accident liability.

Drivers and trucking companies are required to follow proper regulations in order to ensure their own safety as well as the safety of other drivers and vehicle passengers around them. Since they can be a bigger threat to others, they are held to a higher standard of accountability.

This is why responsibility is mostly assigned to truck drivers and trucking companies in courts. They are ordered to compensate people injured or the families of those who are killed in truck accidents.

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Wrongful Death Liability

A number of situations can cause a fatal trucking accident with a large commercial vehicle. These include the following.

  • The cargo was overloaded, unbalanced or unsecured and caused spillage on the road that leads to an accident, The driver is negligent when operating the truck in foggy weather, The driver tries to overcompensate when turning and ends up jackknifing the truck, The truck is not equipped properly with the necessary safety equipment to protect other motorists, The trucker drives recklessly or goes over the speed limit on the highway or urban area and or The trucker falls asleep at the wheel due to fatigue.

Truck Accident Consequences

A collision between a commercial truck and a passenger car is usually catastrophic for the smaller vehicle. ‘Big Rig’ trucks usually weigh 25-35 times more than passenger cars. They are also much larger and have a greater ground clearance.

An accident can result in the smaller vehicle being crushed or rammed by the larger truck to go spiraling off the road or crash into another small car.

Commercial truck accidents can also involve cargo spills of hazardous chemicals or inflammable fuel that can further increase the gravity of an accident.

Truck drivers are accountable to the same legal standards as most other drivers. Careless driving and reckless behavior is punishable under various state and federal statutes.

Furthermore, the driver and/or trucking company can also be held liable to pay damages to any party affected by their reckless driving or cargo loading.

Truck Accident Fatality Statistics and Law

Government stats show that around 3,986 people died in large truck crashes in 2016. Only 17% of those people were in large trucks while more than 82% were in the small vehicles involved in the collision. More than 102,000 people suffered injuries during the same year, due to large truck and lorry accidents.

A number of federal and state laws govern the trucking industry and provide safety regulations. The laws regulate standards for truck owners, drivers and trucking companies that must be met. The regulations also help determine liability in case of a trucking accident.

Most of the federal legislation dealing with trucking is laid out in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

The U.S. Agencies that oversee truck driving include Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Department of Transportation (DoT). Each state also has its own department of transportation with its own set of trucking regulations.

Complications with Truck Accidents

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Various factors can complicate a truck accident. For starters, a wreck where a large heavy vehicle with tens of thousands of pounds of cargo is involved is pretty complex. If any cargo drops out of the truck due to the accident and causes death or injury of another person, the trucker can be held responsible, provided there were no warning signs about the cargo on the truck.

Another factor that can complicate commercial truck accidents is the legislation surrounding commercial trucking. FMCSA has outlined specific guidelines for truckers. The agency is responsible for the issuance, administration and enforcement of safety regulations, cargo weight regulations, truck maintenance rules, truck drivers’ hours of service or HOS (i.e. time allowed behind the wheel), hazardous materials regulations, drug and alcohol testing of drivers, and much more. If it can be established that the trucker was not complying with regulations, they can be penalized even if the accident was not entirely the fault of the truck driver.

One of the stakeholders in a truck accident is a trucking firm or the “carrier”. This is usually a large corporation. After a serious accident involving the loss of life, the trucking company takes steps to ensure that they are protected against legal claims by those who have been injured or lost a relative. Investigators working for the trucking company will begin to collect evidence, in order to defend or minimize the claim. The carrier may also contact the injured party in an attempt to keep them from pursuing legal action.

Truck Accidents - Wrongful Death Compensation

Financial injury or pecuniary is the primary element of damages in a wrongful death action lawsuit. Courts have determined “pecuniary injury” to include the loss of support, services, a lost prospect of inheritance, and medical and funeral expenses for the deceased.

Most state and federal laws mandate that damages awarded for a wrongful death should be fair and sufficient enough to justly compensate for the injuries that result from the death. If the claimants have paid for the deceased person’s medical care or funeral costs or if they are responsible to pay for them, they may also recover these expenses from the parties held responsible for the accident.

If you or a family member has been catastrophically injured, schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced truck accident law firms, use TruckAccidentAttorneyNetwork.org to start your search.

Determining Liability in Wrongful Death

Driver negligence and failure to follow safety regulations can have serious consequences for the trucker and other motorists nearby. Yet a number of trucking companies and drivers often violate safety regulations mandated by FMCSA, leading to injuries or even death of other motor vehicle drivers. A trucking company can be held responsible for death in the following cases.

  • The driver did not take their federally mandated rest breaks
  • The truck driver tailgated other vehicles without keeping appropriate leading distance, leading to the accident
  • The truck driver was driving at excessive speeds
  • The truck had defective parts that caused the accident. The manufacturer or servicing company can be held responsible in such cases.
  • The truck was overloaded or cargo was not secured
  • The trucker tried to overtake another vehicle without proper safety precautions
  • The trucking company did not perform proper maintenance checks on the truck
  • The trucking company used unqualified drivers
  • The trucking company worked with drivers that had a history of traffic violations

3.5 Times More Compensation with a Truck Accident Attorney

The Insurance Research Council reports that people with attorneys were paid 3.5x more than those who did not hire an attorney and that 85% of all the dollars that are paid out by insurance companies for bodily injury claims are paid to clients who have hired an attorney to represent them. (“Auto Injuries: Claiming Behavior and Its Impact on Insurance Costs”)