Wrongful Death Claim After a Truck Accident
Death is the most tragic outcome after a serious truck accident, but recognize that you are not alone. Data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shows that in 2016, 4,440 large commercial trucks and buses were involved in fatal accidents.
After a heavy commercial accident ends in the unfortunate death of a crash victim, the victim’s surviving family members have the option to bring forth a wrongful death claim. Eligibility to file a survivor’s claim starts in a hierarchy, allowing the victim’s spouse and then their children the first opportunity to take action. If there is not a surviving spouse or there are no surviving children, the option to take up the claim falls on the victim’s parents, siblings, and other extended family members.
There is also a second type of wrongful death claim that can be filed by the executor of the deceased’s estate. This claim is known as a “survival action,” and it can be used to recoup losses to the estate that resulted from the circumstances of the accident.
A truck accident lawyer can assist greatly with the filing of a wrongful death claim, helping assemble documentation as evidence, file the necessary paperwork, negotiate with insurers on behalf of the survivors, and generally guide the strategy and process of the claim while it runs its course.
The Importance of Weighing a Wrongful Death Claim Before the Statute of Limitations Expires
Dealing with the death of a loved one can be the most emotional time of someone’s life, but they should know that the opportunity to file a wrongful death claim is limited. For most accidents, the statute of limitations is two years. For accidents involving claims against government entities, the statute of limitation can be as short as six months.
Know, also, that many insurers can make settlement offers to grieving families that are far lower than the true fair compensation. Hospital bills, emergency care, and funeral costs can all be far higher than a grieving family might anticipate. They may also wish to “get the process over with” so they can begin healing more quickly, making them willing to accept any offer that seems generous.
In reality, all accident victims — including survivors of the deceased — owe it to themselves to at least wait until they can calculate the full costs of the incident. They are also often entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering that results from the loss of a close family member.
As such, be wary of accepting earlier offer without speaking to a truck accident lawyer or at least knowing the full costs yourself. Once a settlement is agreed to, you release the insurer and their policyholder from liability, meaning you cannot ask for more money or file a lawsuit under nearly any circumstances.