If someone dies in an accident caused by the negligence or reckless behavior of a truck driver, Texas law allows that person’s spouse, children, or parents to bring a wrongful death claim or survival action.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If you lost a loved one to a trucking accident, one option you have is to file a wrongful death lawsuit. When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, family members are not actually seeking damages for harm caused to their loved one. Instead, the family members are suing for damages caused to themselves as a result of the loss of the decedent.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, family members of the deceased person are able to seek the following damages:
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of love and emotional support
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of society
Texas law allows spouses, children, and parents to file wrongful death lawsuits.
What is a Survival Action?
Another option open to the family members of the deceased person is to file a survival action. Unlike a wrongful death lawsuit, a survival action seeks compensation for harm caused to the deceased person and states that those damages should be awarded to the decedent’s estate.
The basic argument behind a survival action is:
- The person died because of the defendant’s negligence.
- This negligence caused pain and suffering to the person before they died.
- Had the person survived, he or she would have been able to pursue legal action against the defendant to recover compensation for pain and suffering.
- The defendant should not be able to avoid liability for pain and suffering just because the person died.
- The pain and suffering damages should be paid to the deceased person’s estate.
In addition to pain and suffering, a survival action can also seek damages for medical costs associated with hospital stays and medical procedures procured prior to the victim’s death as well as funeral and burial expenses.
Texas law only allows the deceased person’s legal heir or estate representative to file a survival claim. In the absence of a legal beneficiary, relative may pursue the action jointly.
Can I File Both a Wrongful Death Claim and a Survival Action Following a Fatal Trucking Accident?
In Texas law, wrongful death statutes and survival action statutes represent two distinct actions filed on behalf of different victims. As such, both can be pursued in connection with the same incident and can even be consolidated into a single lawsuit depending on the circumstances of the death.
However, in order for either of the claims to be successful, it is essential that the family speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney. Consulting with an attorney will allow you to understand the full scope of your rights, any potential obstacles your case might face, and how best to pursue legal action against those responsible for your loved one’s death.
Additionally, the attorney who is handling the wrongful death lawsuit and/or the survival action will also engage the services of a qualified probate attorney who will “open an estate”, ensuring that the wrongful death and survival claims are properly represented before the court.
What Are Some Things to Consider When Pursuing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against a Trucking Company?
Generally, lawsuits resulting from trucking accidents are much more complicated and much more demanding than a regular auto accident lawsuit. This is because the trucking companies you are dealing with have teams of lawyers whose sole job is to limit or eliminate the trucking company’s liability following a crash. In some situations, these lawyers will be at the scene of a crash before the ambulance even departs for the hospital.
Lawsuit involving commercial trucking companies and drivers are further complicated by the existence of complex trucking regulations as well as state and federal laws defining employer liability and the application of respondeat superior. Without a doubt, the lawyer investigating the accident on the trucking company’s behalf are well versed in the application of these laws and regulations.
Finally, you must consider the size of the company you are dealing with. The larger the company, the more financial resources that company has. Your average personal injury plaintiff simply does not have the money to fight it out against a trucking company. As a result, the victim is often bullied into accepting a settlement that covers only a fraction of their damages.
How Can an Attorney Help My Trucking Accident Wrongful Death Claim?
If you want to stand a chance against a large commercial trucking company, you need to level the playing field. Thomas J. Henry has been successfully litigating against trucking companies for 25 years. With a team of more than 100 attorneys, the latest trial technology, and the financial resources to fight the long fight, Thomas J. Henry can help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Through the unitization of jet services, satellite technology, and advanced mobile technology, our attorneys and staff can be anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. Because our attorneys have remote access to your file, they can hold meetings, draft and review documents, and store and share files anytime anywhere. This means that if you can’t make it to one of our offices, an attorney will bring the vast capabilities of our offices directly to you.
Thomas J. Henry also has access to some of the world’s leading expert witnesses. From accident reconstructionists to FMCSA compliance consultants, these experts will apply their special expertise to your case by gathering and investigating evidence and, when necessary, providing compelling expert testimony in your trial.
Some expert witnesses who may benefit your claim include:
- Accident Investigation Experts
- Hazardous Materials Experts
- FMCSA Compliance Consultants
- Forensic Engineers
- Accident Re-constructionists
- Human Factors Forensic Science Experts (reaction time, fatigue and distracted driving)
- General Equipment Technical Expert
Who Should I Call If I’ve Been Involved in a Trucking Accident?
Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys have handled a multitude of 18-wheeler accidents over the past two decades and continue to handle many of the largest 18-wheeler accident cases throughout the United States. Whether the company is small or large, our success is not an accident; it is because we understand how trucking companies operate. We represent clients/victims all over the country.
Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys are available to respond to trucking accidents at any hour, day or night. Our lawyers understand that the immediate acquisition, or acquiring, of evidence is paramount to understanding how the accident occurred. Remember, your choice does matter. Contact our offices – we are available 24/7, nights and weekends.