Truck crashes are known for causing far more devastation than traditional car accidents. Considering that a fully-loaded semi-truck or big-rig can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while the average passenger vehicle weighs less than 4,000 pounds, it isn't difficult to understand why collisions between these two types of vehicles often result in catastrophic or even fatal injuries.
If you lost a loved one in a Georgia truck accident caused by another person or company's negligence, you may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit and be entitled to compensation. Here's what you should know about wrongful death truck crashes before taking legal action.
Common Causes of Fatal Truck Accidents
Behind the wheel of a hulking commercial truck, even a small mistake can have dire consequences. Some of the most common causes of fatal truck crashes that lead to wrongful death claims include:
- Truck driver error
- Distracted truck drivers
- Drowsy truckers
- Poor truck maintenance
- Improperly loaded or improperly secured cargo
- Truck drivers failing to check their “no zone” blind spots
- Inadequate truck driver training or supervision
Potentially Liable Parties
Liability in truck crash cases is often more complex than in car accident cases. In a car crash case, the at-fault party is usually the other driver. In truck accident cases, the liable party could be the truck driver, the trucking company that employs them, the mechanics tasked with maintaining the truck, or even the truck's manufacturer if a faulty part led to the fatal crash. A knowledgeable Georgia personal injury attorney can help you determine the appropriate party—or parties—to name as the defendant(s) in your truck crash wrongful death lawsuit.
Who Can File a Georgia Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits can't be filed by just anyone. Georgia law limits the ability to file a wrongful death claim to the following individuals:
- The truck accident victim's surviving spouse. The spouse can bring a wrongful death claim representing their own interests, as well as the interests of any minor children the couple had together. If the wrongful death case is successful, the surviving spouse is entitled to a full third of the settlement or financial award.
- The truck crash victim's surviving children. If the victim wasn't survived by a spouse, their children can file a wrongful death lawsuit and split any settlement among themselves.
- The truck accident victim's surviving parents. If the victim had no spouse or children, the claim can be brought by their parent or parents.
- A personal representative for the victim's estate. When the victim isn't survived by a spouse, children, or parents, a personal representative can bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased's estate. Any settlement or monetary award received would be distributed to the victim's heirs according to their will or, if they died intestate, according to Georgia state laws.
Benefits of Filing a Truck Accident Wrongful Death Claim
No amount of compensation can truly make up for the loss of your loved one, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. Not only do these civil lawsuits allow you to hold the at-fault party financially responsible for your family member's death, but a successful wrongful death claim can help ensure you're compensated how you're loved one would have wanted.
In Georgia, a wrongful death action allows claimants to collect compensation for lost wages and benefits the deceased would have earned during their lifetime, as well as the loss of care, companionship, love, support, guidance, and other intangible benefits the victim would have provided.
Discuss Your Truck Accident Wrongful Death Case With an Experienced Georgia Personal Injury Attorney
If your loved one was killed in a Georgia truck crash, the accomplished accident and injury attorneys with Van Sant Law can help you fight for a fair recovery for your family. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case, as well as your legal rights and options.