Fatal truck accidents may warrant a wrongful death lawsuit

When truck accidents occur, the outcome is often tragic. Due to their size, these behemoths of the roads are not as maneuverable and are slower to stop than other smaller passenger vehicles. Also, the truck's large size means that a collision with a motor vehicle is much more likely to be fatal. Unfortunately, fatal truck accidents are not an uncommon occurrence on our nation's roads. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an average of 11 such accidents occur nationwide each day.

If a loved one has been killed in a truck accident (or any other motor vehicle accident) someone else's negligence may be the cause. For example, driver fatigue, drugs or alcohol, improper loading, and maintenance lapses are common causes of truck accidents. If a loved one is killed in an accident caused by truck driver negligence, you may suffer financial as well as emotional losses. You may wonder what legal recourse you have in such a situation. Fortunately, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses under New York law by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Basics of lawsuit

A wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate any time someone's negligence led to the death of a loved one. Because of this, a lawsuit may potentially be filed following truck accidents as well as other motor vehicle accidents, slip-and-falls, construction accidents, and any other fatal accident caused by negligence. In New York, wrongful death lawsuits are not filed directly by the aggrieved parties. Instead, the lawsuit is filed by the personal representative of the decedent's estate (or executor) on behalf of those eligible to recover compensation under the law (the "beneficiaries").

If any compensation is recovered by the personal representative, it is distributed to the beneficiaries according to law. In most cases, only a decedent's spouse and minor children may be beneficiaries. However, other family members may potentially qualify as beneficiaries if they can prove they are financially dependent on the decedent.

In New York, beneficiaries may not recover noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering or emotional anguish. However, a variety of other financial losses caused by the decedent's untimely death are recoverable including:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Medical bills
  • Loss of future income
  • Loss of inheritance
  • The reasonable value of the decedent's services and support
  • Punitive damages (in limited circumstances)
Consult an attorney

If a loved one has been killed in a truck or motor vehicle accident, negligence may or may not be the cause. Since evidence can disappear over time, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible following the accident. An attorney can collaborate with accident reconstruction experts to determine whether negligence was a factor and work on your behalf to recover fair compensation for your financial losses.