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What to Do After A Loved One Dies in a Truck Accident | Lawyers Answer

Losing a loved one in a trucking accident is one of the most devastating experiences that anyone can go through. Not only are you forced to cope with the emotional trauma of your loss, but you may also be left dealing with financial burdens, medical bills, and other expenses that result from the accident.

If your family member has died in a trucking accident, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim.


A wrongful death claim is a type of legal action that may be filed by surviving family members after a loved one has died in a trucking accident. These claims allow family members to seek financial compensation for their losses, including medical bills, funeral expenses, lost income, and other damages. To file a wrongful death claim, you will need to prove that the truck driver or other responsible parties were negligent and that this negligence caused your loved one's death.


what-to-do-after-a-loved-one-dies-in-a-truck-accident-lawyers-answer

1. Secure The Unredacted Crash Report


After a truck crash that results in the loss of a family member or friend, the level of confusion can be significant. It is crucial to contact the police department to obtain additional details regarding what occurred. The police are generally meticulously record the accident details, including statements from all involved parties and witnesses, as well as capture photographs as part of their accident report. However, you should always ask the investigating officer whether he or she was able to access the in-cabin camera footage or contacting nearby businesses to obtain any potential camera surveillance. It would be wise to document as much information as possible yourself, including potential witness statements. If your phone's camera is operational. Finally, you must contact a truck accident attorney who can work to hold the truck carriers and insurance companies liable for your the loss of your loved one.


2. Do Not Speak With An Insurance Adjuster


This is a very important step to follow. After the tragic loss of a loved one in a trucking accident, it is strongly advised that a family should not engage in conversation with an insurance adjuster without the presence of an attorney during a recorded call. This precaution is essential for several reasons. Firstly, dealing with the aftermath of a fatal accident is an emotionally overwhelming time for the family, and their grief may impair their ability to make rational decisions or fully understand the legal implications of their statements. The insurance adjuster, on the other hand, is trained to protect the interests of the insurance company and may use this vulnerable state to obtain information that could potentially devalue the claim. Additionally, the complexities of insurance policies and legal procedures can be daunting for someone without legal expertise, leaving the family at a significant disadvantage during negotiations. By involving an attorney, the family gains an advocate who is knowledgeable in personal injury law and experienced in dealing with insurance companies. The attorney can guide the family through the process, protect their rights, ensure fair compensation, and help them avoid inadvertently making statements that could harm their case. Ultimately, having legal representation provides a crucial layer of protection for the family during this difficult time, ensuring that their best interests are safeguarded and their rights are upheld.


3. Book A Consultation With An Experienced Trucking Accident Attorney


Trucking accident attorneys play a crucial role in determining liability in the aftermath of an 18 wheeler crash. These legal professionals also hire experts use a combination of science, engineering, and advanced technology to analyze the accident scene, reconstruct the events leading up to the accident, and identify any factors that may have contributed to the accident.


Examining the physical evidence in crucial and includes analyzing skid marks, tractor trailer damage, cargo weight, weather patters, and debris patterns aid in determine what occurred in the accident.


Working to detect the drivers behavior is another goal of truck wreck lawyers. This might include reviewing witness statements, analyzing vehicle data recorders, and examining the drivers' histories to determine whether they were following traffic laws, driving recklessly, or otherwise behaving negligently.


In some cases, computer simulations, drone footage, or other advanced technology helps model the accident and explore different scenarios. Skilled legal counsel will also download the electronic data from the tractor trailer with the understanding that the black box always helps tell the story of whether the commercial driver was liable.


These actions can generally occur in the pre-litigation phase, but the evidence obtained in discovery further aids in determining causation. The truck driver's employee file, the companies safety records, the semi's maintenance records, and pre-trip inspections often point to the culprit of the wreck. An experienced trucking accident lawyer is able to handle each stage of your case, form the investigation to filing your lawsuit and representing you before a jury.


4. Ask The Right Questions


After a loved one is involved in truck crash, there are several important questions that someone involved or affected by the incident can ask to gather essential information and protect their interests. Whether you are speaking with the responding officer, your attorney, or a case expert retained by your law firm, these questions can yield helpful information.


Some of these questions include:

  • What were the road and weather conditions at the time of the accident?

  • Were there any witnesses to the accident? Was their contact information be obtained?

  • Did the truck driver adhere to local traffic laws and federal safety regulations?

  • Do we know long had the driver been on the road?

  • Were the commercial driver fatigued or under the influence of any substances?

  • Was the semi truck properly maintained and in compliance with safety standards?

  • Can photographs or videos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and injuries be taken as evidence?

  • Were there any surveillance cameras in the vicinity that may have recorded the accident?

  • What is the trucking company's insurance information, and what is the process for filing a claim?

  • Are we able to conduct a background search of the driver? Criminal and traffic citation.

  • What medical treatments are necessary for injuries sustained in the accident, and what are the estimated costs?

These questions aim to gather relevant details about the accident, establish liability, and ensure that the appropriate legal and insurance actions can be taken. An attorney with experience personal injury lawyers or truck accident attorneys, who can provide guidance and assistance in asking the right questions specific to the circumstances of the accident.


4. Gather Helpful Records For The Litigation Process


The specific types of physical evidence necessary for a wrongful death lawsuit or claim can differ based on the particulars of each case. Nevertheless, here are some frequently encountered documents that surviving family members may need to provide when filing a wrongful death claim:


Medical Records


In any wrongful death claim, medical records serve as vital evidence, providing substantiation for the deceased's injuries or illnesses and documenting the medical treatment received before their passing. By examining medical records, one can accurately assess the total medical expenses incurred by the deceased prior to their death. These records also play a crucial role in evaluating the value of the wrongful death claim. Experienced wrongful death attorneys leverage medical records to construct a robust claim, establishing a clear link between the decedent's injuries, their demise, and the defendant's negligence.


Autopsy Reports


In wrongful death cases where determining the cause of death poses challenges, autopsy reports assume a critical role, shedding light on the circumstances surrounding the decedent's passing. Even when a client is innocent, the autopsy reports, such as toxicology results, can provide concrete evidence clearing the victim of any wrongdoing, especially in truck accident claims claims where the accident report might contain errors or discrepancies.


Witness Statements


Statements from witnesses at the traffic site hold significant weight in a wrongful death claim, offering firsthand accounts that help establish the events leading up to the tragic outcome. Witness statements provide valuable evidence that supports the claim, lending credibility and depth to the account of what transpired and contributing to the establishment of liability against the commercial driver or fleet operator.


Employment Records


If the deceased held employment prior to their passing, their employment records can be instrumental in establishing the extent of lost wages and potential future earnings. By referencing employment records, surviving family members can accurately calculate the financial losses incurred, considering the deceased's income and the impact on dependents who relied on their financial support.


Financial Records


Financial records, such as pay stubs, provide critical documentation to determine the decedent's earnings before their passing and the subsequent loss of expected future income. Pay stubs play a crucial role, particularly when the deceased had dependents who relied on them financially. These records facilitate the calculation of financial losses that surviving family members can incorporate into their wrongful death claims.


Photos and Videos


Photographic evidence proves invaluable in presenting a compelling narrative of the accident's cause, the victim's injuries before death, and other visual elements that substantiate the defendant's negligence or violations that amount to strict liability. Videos captured by traffic cameras and CCTV surveillance systems, showcasing different perspectives, can significantly bolster the strength of a wrongful death claim.


5. Determine Who Will File The Wrongful Death Claim


Typically, the immediate family members of the deceased are eligible to file a wrongful death claim. This includes spouses, children, and parents. If the deceased did not have a spouse, children, or living parents, the right to file a wrongful death claim may pass to other close relatives such as siblings or grandparents.


In some states, a personal representative or executor of the deceased's estate may also be able to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the family. This is particularly true if the deceased did not have any immediate family members or if the family members are unable to file the claim for some reason, such as being minors or incapacitated.


It's worth noting that the specific rules regarding who can file a wrongful death claim in a trucking accident can be quite complex, and may depend on a number of factors such as the state where the accident occurred, the relationship between the deceased and the potential claimants, and other factors. This is why it's important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you through the legal process and ensure that you take all necessary steps to protect your family's interests.


6. Be Aware Of The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations


If you or a family member is interested in understanding the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), you can ask your attorney what safety issues they believe are involved, or begin reviewing the regulations online. The FMCSRs are a set of regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation. These rules govern commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) engaged in interstate commerce, including large trucks.


Some of the most critical and often violated safety laws include the following:

  1. Hours of Service (HOS): The HOS regulations limit the number of hours a commercial truck driver can be on duty and dictate mandatory rest periods to prevent driver fatigue.

  2. Driver Qualifications: These regulations establish criteria for driver eligibility, including minimum age, physical qualifications, driver training, and licensing requirements.

  3. Vehicle Maintenance: FMCSRs outline requirements for inspecting, maintaining, and repairing commercial vehicles to ensure they are safe for operation.

  4. Drug and Alcohol Testing: These regulations mandate drug and alcohol testing programs for commercial drivers to ensure they are not impaired while operating CMVs.

  5. Weight and Size Limits: FMCSRs specify weight and size limits for commercial vehicles to prevent overloading and ensure road safety.

  6. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs): This law requires the use of ELDs to electronically record a driver's hours of service, replacing traditional paper logbooks.

  7. Cargo Securement: FMCSRs define standards for properly securing cargo to prevent shifting or falling during transport.

  8. Insurance Requirements: Commercial motor carriers must meet specific insurance requirements to cover potential damages and liabilities.

After a truck accident, understanding these regulations can help you determine if any violations occurred and whether they contributed to the accident. Gathering evidence such as driver logs, vehicle maintenance records, and witness statements can be crucial in establishing liability.


Remember, it is important to consult with a qualified 18 wheeler accident attorney who can assess the specifics of your case and guide you through the legal process. They will be able to provide you with the most accurate advice based on your situation and the relevant laws and regulations in your jurisdiction.


7. Consider Speaking With An Estate Planning Attorney


Speaking with an estate planning attorney after a loved one loses their life in a trucking accident is important for several reasons:


Legal Guidance


An estate planning attorney specializes in the laws and regulations surrounding wills, trusts, and estates. They can provide valuable legal guidance and help navigate the complexities of the legal process that follows the death of a loved one in a trucking accident. They can explain the relevant laws, rights, and responsibilities, ensuring that you understand your options and make informed decisions.


Estate Administration


When a person passes away, their estate needs to be administered and distributed according to their wishes or applicable laws. An estate planning attorney can assist in managing the deceased person's assets, debts, and property, ensuring that everything is handled correctly and in compliance with legal requirements.


Probate Process


In many cases, the probate process is required to validate the deceased person's will and distribute their assets. An estate planning attorney can guide you through the probate process, which involves court proceedings, filing documents, and resolving any disputes that may arise. They can help ensure that the deceased person's intentions are respected and that the probate process is completed efficiently.


Asset Protection


In trucking accidents, there may be substantial financial implications, including insurance claims, potential lawsuits, and settlements. An estate planning attorney can assist in protecting the deceased person's assets and ensuring that they are appropriately distributed to beneficiaries while considering any potential legal claims or liabilities.


Tax Considerations


Estate planning attorneys have knowledge of tax laws and can help you understand the tax implications of inheriting assets or receiving insurance proceeds after a loved one's death. They can provide advice on minimizing tax obligations and maximizing the benefits to the beneficiaries.


Contingency Planning


If the deceased person did not have a comprehensive estate plan in place, an attorney can assist in creating one for the surviving family members. This includes drafting a will, establishing trusts, and designating beneficiaries. By planning for the future, an estate planning attorney can help ensure that your loved one's wishes are honored, minimize potential conflicts among family members, and provide peace of mind.


Consulting an estate planning attorney after a loved one's death in a trucking accident can help you navigate the legal complexities, protect assets, facilitate the distribution process, and provide guidance during a difficult time. Their expertise can prove invaluable in ensuring that the deceased person's wishes are carried out and that you and your family receive the necessary support and protection.


8. Ask About The Potential Value Of The Truck Accident Lawsuit


Damages in a trucking accident wrongful death case may include compensation for medical bills, funeral expenses, lost income, and other damages. Your attorney can help you accurately calculate your damages and seek the maximum compensation possible. It's important to work with an attorney who has experience handling trucking accident wrongful death cases and who can help you navigate the complex legal landscape.


Trucking accident wrongful death cases can be complex and challenging, and may involve multiple parties and insurance companies. Some common challenges in these cases include determining liability, calculating damages, and negotiating with insurance companies. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you overcome these challenges and pursue your claim with confidence.


9. Consider Therapy Options And How Counseling May Help


The sudden loss of a family member in a trucking accident can leave you and your family in a state of shock and grief. It is important to reach out to your support network and lean on friends, family, or grief counselors who can provide comfort and understanding during this challenging period. Sharing your feelings and emotions can help alleviate some of the burdens you may be carrying.


Support groups specifically tailored to individuals who have lost loved ones in accidents can also provide a safe space to share experiences and emotions with others who are going through similar situations. Grief counseling or therapy can also help in coping with the emotional toll of the loss.


We Can Help In The Aftermath Of A Fatal Truck Accident


In times of immense grief and loss, the devastating aftermath of a trucking accident can leave families feeling overwhelmed and unsure of their rights and options. At Sneed & Mitchell LLP, we understand the immense pain that accompanies the loss of a loved one in such a tragic event. Our dedicated team of compassionate and experienced attorneys is here to guide you through the legal process, providing you with the support and advocacy you deserve. We will tirelessly fight to hold responsible parties accountable and secure the compensation you need to navigate this difficult time. While we cannot undo the pain you have endured, we are committed to easing your burden and helping you find justice. Contact Sneed & Mitchell LLP today for a free consultation, and let us help you on the path to healing and closure.

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