Fatal truck accidents resulting in the truck driver’s death are devastating for the family members. The situation gets more complicated when you know the accident could have been prevented.
When truck drivers are killed in collisions during the course of their work, it’s not always due to their own fault. The accident could be attributed to actions (or inactions) on part of the trucking company or a third party.
If you lost a family member to a fatal truck accident, you should be aware of your rights. It’s best to speak with a seasoned truck crash attorney to pursue compensation from the trucking company or a third party.
Suing a Trucking Company in West Virginia for the Loss of a Loved One
Whether or not you can sue the trucking company following a fatal accident depends on how the truck driver’s employment was classified. You can hold the trucking company liable for any negligent actions if your family member was classified as an employee. You should work with an attorney to explore your legal options if your family member was misclassified as an independent contractor.
Independent contractors are non-permanent employees that choose their routes and hours, so long as they meet specific terms and customer deadlines. These workers don’t receive health insurance, retirement savings, and other benefits. You can argue that your family member was misclassified as an independent contractor if they controlled the driver’s route, hours, load assignments, tracks, or mileage rates.
You may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against a third party involved in the crash if it is clear that the trucking company hired the deceased as an independent contractor.
Truck drivers that are employed by a trucking company lack the flexibility of independent contractors. Moreover, they are eligible to receive overtime pay and health insurance. You may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit if your family member was employed by the trucking company and died as a result of the company’s negligence.
Negligence of Trucking Companies and Third Parties Can Lead to WV Fatal Crashes
Trucking companies can contribute to accidents and fatal crashes involving truck drivers in terms of poorly maintaining their fleet, pressurizing the drivers to meet unrealistic delivery deadlines, and choosing routes that are too dangerous for semi-trailers or other commercial trucks. Failure to provide proper training or safety equipment to a truck operator may also lead to the driver’s fatal accident.
Sometimes, other people may also do things that result in a crash. This includes:
- Loading workers: Unbalancing the truck by improperly loading the truck’s cargo
- Other drivers: Driving distractedly or recklessly around trucks disregarding the truck driver’s handicap, such as increased stopping distance and blind spots
- Municipality: Poor maintenance of the roads that trucks use
You have two years from the date of the crash to file a wrongful death claim. However, you should not wait till the end to find a capable attorney. It takes time to gather the necessary evidence and prepare a strong claim. Determine whether you are entitled to financial compensation following the loss of your loved one to a truck accident by consulting with a West Virginia wrongful death attorney – someone who has been through the legal minefields before and knows where to step and where not to step.
Multiple Entities May be Held Liable
The most important question when seeking financial compensation following a fatal semi-truck crash is whom you can sue. There are several potential defendants in a semi-truck crash lawsuit regarding wrongful death. Your lawyer may be able to find evidence of different types of liability during the course of investigating the crash and building a powerful wrongful death claim.
These can be on part of:
- Shipping company.
- Company involved in the manufacture of truck components.
- Third-party maintenance company.
- Road contractors and government agencies.
- Other drivers.
There is a distinct possibility that your wrongful death lawsuit may be resolved at trial even though a majority of lawsuits are settled out of court. These cases involve issues of substantial damages and complex liability. It is important that you choose an attorney with the necessary experience to try your case in court if required.
Substantial Damages in Fatal Semi-Crash Lawsuits
Damages resulting from a wrongful death claim can be significant. Surviving relatives can essentially pursue compensation for the loss of support, services, income, and other benefits, which the deceased would have provided over the course of their lifetime. This makes it important to work with an attorney that understands employment law, wrongful death litigation, and truck accident cases.
Skilled and knowledgeable attorneys will be able to accurately calculate the impact of a loved one’s death and determine the value of all damages. They will also ensure justice for you and your family members.
West Virginia Code § 55-7-6(d) has established the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit as 2 years. This makes it important to get started on exploring your rights and building a lawsuit as soon as you can.
Choose a Dedicated Truck Accident Lawyer in West Virginia to Protect Your Rights
The experienced attorneys at Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., understand the devastating impact of having a family member killed on the job. Our wrongful death attorneys are here to aggressively fight so that you get the compensation and justice you are owed. Our lawyers have decades of experience negotiating with insurance companies and trying cases in court.
We have achieved major settlements and verdicts in fatal truck accident claims. To set up your complimentary consultation, call 800-497-0234 or reach us online.