The damage an 18-wheeler accident can cause is undeniable. If your loved one succumbed to fatal commercial truck accident injuries, you might be devastated and ready to ensure those responsible for causing their deaths are brought to justice.
You may have the option of pursuing a wrongful death claim, depending on the circumstances of your case. Your fatal truck accident attorney can review the specific details of your loved one’s death to find out what your next steps should be.
What to Do if You Lose a Family Member in a Fatal Truck Accident
Immediately after suffering your loss, you may feel worried, confused, and devastated. You are likely unsure of what to do to hold a liable party accountable for their negligent or wrongful actions. Here are some of the first steps you can take if you are hoping to demand justice:
First, if you were called to the accident scene or involved in the same truck accident that took your family member’s life, it is imperative to collect as much evidence as possible at the scene. For example, photos of the surrounding property damages, vehicle damages, traffic conditions, and weather conditions at the time of the accident will be valuable as accident reconstructionists attempt to establish liability.
Taking photos of the injuries the decedent sustained before their passing will also be valuable in proving the severity of the collision. Additionally, getting the contact information of witnesses and bystanders will be crucial so they can be contacted and deposed for your wrongful death claim.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney
Once you discover your loved one has passed away from their truck accident injuries, be sure to contact a wrongful death lawyer for help. Your family should not have to deal with these legal matters while you are mourning your loss. Instead, you can have your attorney begin building a case against the liable party.
We will carefully conduct a thorough investigation into how the truck accident occurred so we can identify all parties who contributed to your family member’s fatal injuries. We will also go over all the ways the decedent’s life and your family’s lives have been affected by your loved one’s death. That way, we have a clear understanding of how much your wrongful death claim is worth.
Prepare to File a Truck Accident Insurance Claim
Your lawyer will then determine your legal options for justice. Sometimes, you can recover fair compensation through an insurance claim alone. The liable party should have some type of insurance coverage in place that will provide compensation for property damages and the decedent’s medical bills.
However, insurance settlements are almost always limited. This is because the insurance company is only required to pay out up to the policy limits.
Prepare to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Sometimes, the amount of recoverable damages is limited by the insurance company. In other situations, the liable party does not have insurance coverage. When this happens, filing a wrongful death claim may be the best way to recover the compensation your family needs.
Filing a lawsuit can also ensure the at-fault party is held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Your attorney will handle the civil claims process from start to finish, so you can devote more time and energy to what matters most, mourning the loss with your friends and family.
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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
Before we can move forward with your wrongful death claim after a truck accident, we need to determine whether you have the authority to file the claim. Under Oklahoma law, Okla. Stat. Title 12 §1053, the decedent’s personal representative has the authority to file the claim.
Also commonly referred to as the state’s executor, this could be any party the decedent named in their will. However, if the decedent did not have existing estate plans or otherwise failed to name someone as a representative, the civil court system can appoint one of the decedent’s behalf.
How Long You Have to Get Your Fatal Truck Accident Claim Filed
Although your family should be able to spend this time in mourning, you must take action on a wrongful death claim in a timely manner. This is because the law requires your claim to be filed within two years of your loved one’s death.
Unfortunately, if you miss this deadline, you can expect the civil courts to refuse to hear your case. This could have a devastating impact on your ability to bring the liable party to justice. A skilled and compassionate wrongful death lawyer will ensure this does not happen to you.
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How to Bring the Liable Party to Justice
In a wrongful death claim, the best way to ensure the at-fault party is held accountable is by getting a trial decision in your favor. The individual or entity you caused your family member’s death can be compelled to compensate your family for various types of losses. Examples of potentially recoverable damages include:
- The surviving family member’s loss of consortium
- The surviving family member’s loss of support, advice, parental relationship, guidance, and companionship
- The surviving family member’s loss of the decedent’s financial support and inheritance
- The decedent’s medical expenses prior to their death
- The decedent’s burial and funeral expenses
- The decedent’s loss of income and earning potential
It should also be noted that punitive damages are possible in fatal truck accident claims. However, Oklahoma civil courts do not award these damages lightly. They award punitive damages when they find the defendant’s conduct intolerable, reprehensible, or abhorrent.
Punitive damages are designed to discourage similar activities in the future. However, they are not considered compensatory losses and should not be counted as part of your wrongful death claim.
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Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney for Help Today
The wrongful death claims process can be overwhelming. When you have a dedicated fatal truck accident attorney at BDIW Law working for you, your family can mourn and celebrate your loved one’s life while we work on holding the liable party accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
When you are ready to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation, you can reach us through our quick contact form or by phone to get started.
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