Unlike most car accidents that only necessitate filing a claim and having your car repaired, accidents involving semi-trucks are more complicated, and if a life was lost as a result of the accident, the filing process and the resulting case can become further convoluted. If you have lost a loved one due to a truck accident, call a truck accidents attorney to move forward with your claim. Read on to learn what your attorney will do and what you can expect during the claims process.
Determining Who’s to Blame
One of the first things a truck accidents attorney will do is help to determine the at-fault party – the person who caused the wreck that led to the wrongful death of your loved one. In most car accident cases, the at-fault party is usually the other driver. With truck accidents, however, determining who’s to blame is much more complicated. Because big trucks are often used for business purposes, many additional parties who were not directly involved in the accident itself can be held responsible for the wreck. A few of these potentially liable parties are:
- The truck driver – The person who was operating the truck at the time of the wreck. If the driver was operating irresponsibly, was not following traffic laws, or committed another error, they could be to blame for the accident.
- The driver’s employer – The company or person that employs the driver who was behind the wheel during the accident. Inadequate employee screening, overworking drivers, and other actions could make the company responsible if a wreck occurs.
- The truck manufacturer – The company that manufactured the truck involved in the wreck. The manufacturer could be held responsible if a defect or malfunction was the cause of the accident.
- The person who loaded or balanced the truck – The individual or group of individuals responsible for loading cargo into the truck, securing it, or balancing it before the trip began. These persons could be blamed for the wreck if unbalanced or poorly loaded cargo caused the driver to lose control and the truck rolled or flipped.
- The person who cared for or maintained the truck – The auto shop or mechanic who recently inspected, cared for or made a repair on the truck. If this person performed inadequate work, failed to recognize signs of a malfunction or defect, or made another error that led to the accident, they could be held responsible.
Sometimes more than one party is responsible, and if this is the case, your truck accident attorney can help you take action against one or all of them.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Once your truck accident attorney has determined the appropriate at-fault party, the next step is to file a wrongful death claim. According to Texas laws, the statute of limitations on wrongful death suits is two years, so your claim must be filed within 24 months of your loved one’s death or you’ll lose the chance to take action.
After the claim has been filed, your attorney will determine how much your claim should garner you. In the event that the at-fault party wants to settle out of court, you’ll need to have a figure in mind that you are willing to settle on. Attorneys will take into account medical bills incurred, funeral and burial costs, property damage, pain and suffering, lost income, lost benefits, and many other factors to determine an acceptable settlement figure.
Next, they’ll begin gathering evidence to prove your claim. This could include your loved one’s medical records, the Driver Qualification File (DQF) and the logbook of the truck driver in question, traffic camera videos, police reports, and witness testimonies. They also may call in an expert witness who can discuss facets of the case that require a more detailed explanation.