The disparity in the size and weight of large trucks and other vehicles means that crashes involving trucks are frequently deadly. Although the trucking industry is regulated to prevent fatigue, distraction, impairment and other issues that may cause accidents, issues such as these still result in far too many fatal truck accidents.
When smaller vehicles are struck by large trucks, the occupants of the smaller vehicle may be killed.
When you lose someone you love in an accident, you are often left with not just the loneliness and sorrow of loss but also a mountain of bills to pay and loss of future income for your family.
Seeking Justice for Your Lost Loved One
There are at least two potential pathways available to pursue action for your loss. The first is a wrongful death claim under the Texas Wrongful Death Act. This law provides the right for certain family members to sue when a relative is wrongfully killed because of the negligence or deliberate action of another. In order to pursue a wrongful death claim, the accident must have been caused by someone other than your relative – for example, a truck driver, a trucking company, a truck manufacturer or the owner of the cargo.
Under the Texas Wrongful Death Act, parents, children or the surviving spouse are able to sue for the damages they experience due to the loss of their loved one, not for the actual injuries of the deceased.
The other pathway is called a survival claim, provided for under the Texas Survival Statute. This law allows the estate of someone who was wrongfully killed in a truck accident to file a personal injury claim on behalf of the person who died for the pain and suffering they experienced prior to passing away.
Texas Wrongful Death Laws and Fatal Truck Crashes
In Texas, a wrongful death claim may be available for the benefit of the surviving spouse, child, and/or parents of the person who died in a truck accident that was someone else’s fault. The claim may be filed for an individual or together as a group.
In Texas, adult children may also file wrongful death claims over the death of a parent in a truck accident. If the surviving spouse, child or parents do not file a claim in the first three months after the death of their loved one, a personal representative of the estate may file the claim on their behalf.
Separately, under the Texas Survival Statute, the estate, heirs or legal representative may bring a claim.
Types of Damages Available in a Truck Wreck Wrongful Death Case
For a wrongful death claim, both compensatory damages and punitive damages may be pursued. Compensatory damages include financial damages such as loss of income, and other non-pecuniary damages such as loss of advice and counsel.
Some of the compensatory damages available include:
- Loss of decedent’s earning capacity
- Loss of parental services, child services or spousal services
- Loss of advice and counsel
- Loss of companionship and society
- Loss of inheritance
- Mental anguish
- Expenses associated with therapy
Punitive damages, called exemplary damages, are available in certain exceptional cases, such as when the death is caused by a willful or intentional act or omission, or by gross negligence. The purpose of these punitive damages is to punish a wrongdoer and send a message about the behavior that led to the wrongful death.
Under the Survival Statute, the estate or person filing the claim is essentially suing on behalf of the person who died. The case is prosecuted the same way as a normal personal injury lawsuit, as if the person had lived. The damages available can include medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost wages, property damage, etc. Any amount recovered goes to the estate of the deceased.
Time Limits on Bringing a Claim over a Fatal Truck Wreck in Texas
In Texas, the statute of limitations on wrongful death claims is two years. The statute of limitations for any claim refers to the time limit for filing claims based on state statute. So in Texas, you have two years from the death of your loved one to file a wrongful death or survival claim, though the clock may be paused for certain reasons.
New Mexico Wrongful Death Laws
If your fatal truck accident claim is in New Mexico, you have three years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim, though some factors may pause the three-year clock. The wrongful death claim must be filed by the person named as the personal representative of the estate of the deceased, often the surviving spouse or siblings.
Although the personal representative files the case, depending on their relationship to the deceased, the claim is filed for the benefit of surviving family members. If there is a surviving spouse but no children, all damages would go to the spouse. If there is a surviving spouse and children or grandchildren, damages would be split between the spouse and the children or grandchildren.
How the Sloan Firm Can Help Bereaved Families in Their Time of Need
If someone you love has been killed in a truck accident, the wrongful death lawyers at the Sloan Firm can help you!
They will listen to your case, gather facts about what happened and then plan a customized strategy for your claim, based on what is most important to you.
Contact one of the Longview, Houston or Santa Fe truck accident attorneys today for a free initial consultation. Let us deal with the legal issues while you focus on grieving and putting your life back together.