When Does a Truck Accident Become a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
An 18-wheeler semi-truck accident becomes a wrongful death when the accident results in the death of an individual due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions of another party, such as the truck driver, trucking company, or other potentially liable parties. Wrongful death claims can arise from various types of accidents involving commercial trucks, including collisions, jackknifing, rollovers, and other incidents.
To establish a wrongful death claim in the context of an 18-wheeler Semi-truck accident, certain key elements need to be present:
- Death of a Person: There must be a verified death of an individual resulting from the truck accident.
- Negligence or Wrongful Conduct: It must be demonstrated that the negligence, recklessness, or wrongful conduct of another party caused the death. This could include actions such as speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence, improper maintenance, or violating safety regulations.
- Causation: It must be proven that the negligent or wrongful actions of the defendant were a direct cause of the accident and subsequent death.
- Surviving Family Members: Wrongful death claims are typically brought by the surviving family members or beneficiaries of the deceased person, such as immediate family members (spouse, children, parents) or other dependents.
- Damages: The surviving family members must have suffered quantifiable damages as a result of the death. These damages can include medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of financial support, loss of companionship, and more.
It’s important to note that wrongful death claims can be complex legal matters, and each case is unique. If you believe that a loved one’s death resulted from a Semi-truck accident caused by the negligence of another party, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced wrongful death semi-truck accident attorney.
An attorney can help you understand your rights, gather evidence, assess the potential liability, and guide you through the legal process of pursuing a wrongful death claim to seek compensation and justice for your loss.
Truck Accident Settlements Overviews
The closer the truck driver is to 100% at fault in a wrongful death truck accident, the greater their liability. Truck accident settlements are typically higher in these 18-wheeler truck accident cases.
In the most egregious of truck accident cases where the driver was found 100% at fault and the victim died due to the accident, juries in Texas have awarded as much as $730 million in wrongful death truck accident settlements. Several 18-wheeler accidents resulting in deaths have been awarded $260 million, $150 million, $140 million, $120 million, $101 million, and $55.5million, respectively in Texas Courts.
McKay Law recently settled, out of court, a Texas Wrongful Death Truck accident case for $6 million, which was the maximum policy limits. This settlement has facilitated the life rebuilding of a single mom of 2 children left alone absent the family provider due to the wrongful death of her husband at the hands of a negligent speeding truck driver.
More often than not, after suffering an 18-wheeler accident, victims can expect the trucking company and their insurer to try to settle the case. Juries in Texas have not been kind to trucking companies and their insurers. As accident evidence is uncovered and settlement talks proceed, it’s possible that this process may escalate and take a little longer.
Although most 18-wheeler truck accident cases are settled out of court, a trial may be necessary to achieve the results you want and deserve. Since many truck accident cases escalate to wrongful death claims, these cases are very serious and the stakes are high.
In general, an 18-wheeler accident settlement is much larger than almost any other incident. Truck accident settlements may reach from hundreds of thousands of dollars to many millions. Overall, the majority of these wrongful death semi-truck accident settlements are all well over $1,000,000.
In the end, the amount varies depending on several important factors, such as the severity of the injuries, the medical expenses after the truck accident, whether the victim’s normal life is disrupted, and the pain and suffering the injured victim has experienced.
Positive evidence for the Injured or Deceased
Accident fault in Texas is determined by calculating the extent of each driver’s responsibility for the accident versus the truck driver’s fault. If it’s determined that the driver of the vehicle struck by the truck is more than 50% responsible for the accident, the truck driver may not be required to pay compensation. However, the truck driver will be found at fault for the incident if the truck driver’s responsibility is found to be more than 50%.
Many Factors Impact an 18-Wheeler Accident Claim.
Several factors can impact an 18-wheeler (tractor-trailer) Semi-truck accident case, influencing liability, compensation, and legal proceedings. Some of these factors include:
- Negligence: Determining which party (driver, trucking company, other drivers, etc.) was negligent or at fault for the accident is a central factor. Evidence such as eyewitness accounts, traffic camera footage, and expert analysis may be crucial.
- Driver Fatigue: Fatigue is a common issue in truck accidents. Hours-of-service regulations dictate how long a commercial driver can operate a vehicle without taking mandatory rest breaks. Violations of these regulations could be a factor in the case.
- Driver Training and Qualifications: The driver’s training, qualifications, and adherence to traffic laws can impact the case. Inadequate training or improper licensing could point to negligence.
- Vehicle Maintenance: Poorly maintained trucks can contribute to accidents. Regular maintenance records and inspection reports can provide insight into whether maintenance-related issues played a role.
- Load Securing: Improperly secured cargo can lead to accidents. If the cargo was not properly loaded and secured, it could be a factor in the case.
- Weather and Road Conditions: Adverse weather and road conditions, such as rain, snow, ice, or poor visibility, can contribute to accidents. These factors may influence liability and responsibility.
- Speeding and Reckless Driving: Speeding, aggressive driving, tailgating, and other reckless behaviors can increase the likelihood of accidents and impact liability.
- Distracted Driving: Distractions, such as texting, talking on the phone, or using in-cab technology, can divert a driver’s attention from the road and contribute to accidents.
- Intoxication or Substance Abuse: Alcohol or drug impairment by either the truck driver or other involved parties can significantly impact liability.
- Company Policies and Culture: The trucking company’s policies, safety culture, and enforcement of regulations can play a role in the accident. For example, if a company encourages drivers to exceed legal driving hours, it could be liable.
- Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs): ELDs track a driver’s hours of service and can provide evidence of compliance or violations with hours-of-service regulations.
- Black Box Data: Commercial vehicles often have event data recorders (similar to “black boxes” in airplanes) that capture data such as speed, braking, and other factors leading up to an accident.
- Witness Statements: Eyewitness accounts of the accident can provide valuable insights into what happened and who was at fault.
- Injuries and Damages: The extent of injuries to all parties involved and the resulting damages will influence the compensation sought in the case.
- Insurance Coverage: The insurance policies of the involved parties can affect the compensation available for medical expenses, property damage, and other losses.
Navigating an 18-wheeler accident case can be complex, involving legal, regulatory, and investigative aspects. If you or someone you know is involved in such an accident, it’s essential to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in truck accidents to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the appropriate compensation.
Typical 18-Wheeler Truck Accident Injuries
18-wheeler truck accidents can result in a range of injuries, some of which can be severe and life-altering. The size and weight disparity between commercial trucks and smaller vehicles often contribute to the seriousness of injuries. Common injuries from 18-wheeler truck accidents include:
- Whiplash: Sudden impact can cause the head and neck to jerk forward and backward, leading to whiplash injuries. These can range from mild to severe and may involve muscle strain, ligament damage, and neck pain.
- Fractures and Broken Bones: The force of impact can result in broken bones, particularly in the limbs, ribs, and pelvis.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Severe accidents may lead to spinal cord injuries, which can result in paralysis or other long-term disabilities, depending on the location and severity of the injury.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI): Head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries, can occur if the head strikes the steering wheel, windshield, or other parts of the vehicle.
- Internal Injuries: Blunt force trauma from an accident can lead to internal injuries, such as damage to organs, internal bleeding, or ruptured blood vessels.
- Lacerations and Abrasions: Broken glass, sharp metal, and debris can cause cuts, scrapes, and lacerations.
- Amputations: In severe cases, a limb may be severed during the accident or require surgical amputation due to severe injuries.
- Burns: If the accident leads to fires or explosions, burns can result from contact with flames, hot surfaces, or chemicals.
- Crush Injuries: Being trapped inside a vehicle or pinned between vehicles can cause crush injuries, which may lead to severe tissue damage and long-term complications.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Emotional and psychological trauma resulting from the accident can lead to conditions like PTSD, causing anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
- Joint Injuries: Dislocated joints, torn ligaments, and other joint injuries can result from the impact of a truck accident.
- Facial Injuries: Injuries to the face, including fractures, lacerations, and damage to the eyes, nose, and mouth, can occur due to the force of impact or contact with objects.
- Organ Damage: The impact of a collision can cause damage to internal organs, requiring medical intervention and possibly surgery.
- Death: In the most tragic cases, 18-wheeler accidents can result in fatalities.
It’s important to note that injuries can vary widely depending on factors such as the speed of the vehicles, the angle of impact, the use of seatbelts, and more. If you’re involved in an 18-wheeler truck accident, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial, even if you feel fine initially, as some injuries may not be immediately apparent. Additionally, consulting with a personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights and options for seeking compensation for your injuries and losses.
Get a Texas Personal Injury Attorney Who Specializes in 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents!
When choosing an attorney for your 18-wheeler truck accident case, it’s essential to schedule consultations, ask about their experience, and assess whether you feel comfortable working with them. Hiring an experienced Truck Accident lawyer can significantly increase your chances of obtaining the most compensation for your injuries and losses.
Experience in truck accidents in personal injury litigation is a huge advantage in complicated, high-stakes 18-wheeler truck accident cases. Get the Best! Call Lindsey McKay at McKay Law, a Personal Injury Law Firm in Texas specializing in 18-wheel truck accidents.