If you’re the spouse, parent, or child of a victim who’s been killed in a North Charleston truck crash caused by someone else, you have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the party or parties responsible for the accident. In recent years, South Carolina has had one of the highest traffic fatality rates in the country, and a significant number of those fatalities result from commercial truck crashes. Approximately one traffic death per week is caused by an 18-wheeler that strikes a smaller passenger vehicle in our state. If your loved one dies in such an accident, you’re entitled to file an insurance claim(s) for:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of companionship and consortium
- Emotional trauma of surviving family members
- Lost family income, benefits, and future inheritance
- Loss of household assistance
One family member may file the wrongful death action on behalf of other survivors. There is no need for multiple wrongful death claims.
Potential Liable Parties
An insurance claim for an accident caused by a commercial truck is legally more complicated than a car accident claim is. If your loved one is killed in a crash between two cars, you might have a wrongful death claim against the negligent driver who caused the crash. In a commercial truck accident, however, you could have multiple claims against not only the trucker who was at the wheel, but also against the trucking company, the owner of the truck or a leasing agency, a negligent mechanic who serviced the truck, the manufacturer of the truck or of replacement parts used to repair it, and/or cargo loading personnel if the truck was overweight or loaded improperly.
This is just one reason why it’s important to consult a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after your loved one’s fatal accident. The process of figuring out which parties are liable and determining their respective percentages of fault—which would be very difficult for most bereaved family members—can be handled by your attorney. Once that’s done, the next steps are to file multiple claims, make multiple settlement demands, negotiate with multiple insurers for fair compensation, and file multiple lawsuits if defendants are uncooperative. If the trucking company is a large corporation, it could have several attorneys who know exactly how to dispute your claim, drag out negotiations, or offer you a settlement that is not sufficient to compensate you for your loss.
How A South Carolina Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
The many ways in which an experienced lawyer can help you include:
- Thoroughly investigating the details of the accident, perhaps with the help of an accident reconstructionist, to prove the fault of the negligent driver and other responsible parties
- Collecting data from the truck’s “black box” recorder or dash camera
- Checking the truck’s maintenance records for any evidence of negligence
- Examining the driver’s log books for evidence of number of hours driven and rest breaks taken.
- Obtaining the driver’s personnel records, driving record, and criminal record (if any), as well as results of post-accident drug and alcohol tests
- Examining the official police report of the accident for any inaccuracies
- Interviewing any witnesses to the accident
- Handling communications with insurance adjusters and insurance company lawyers
- Making sure you meet all court filing deadlines and other procedural requirements of which you might not even be aware.
You can help your attorney by preserving evidence such as tax returns, paperwork, and other documentation related to your loved one’s accident and death. You should also avoid talking to insurance adjusters who can use almost anything you say to weaken your claim. Do not accept any settlement from the insurer without the approval of your attorney. Finally, don’t post anything about your claim on social media. Anything you say or post might be used by the insurer to dispute your claim.
What Is a Survival Action?
Depending on the specific circumstances of your loved one’s death, your attorney might be able to file a survival action on behalf of the deceased person’s estate. Such a claim would demand compensation for medical bills incurred due to the accident, pain and suffering your loved one endured before death, and, in some cases, punitive damages if the actions of the at-fault parties were extremely reckless or intentional (as in a drunk-driving crash, for example).
Have You Been Injured In A South Carolina Area Truck Accident?
If you've been injured in a North Charleston truck accident you should speak with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our North Charleston office directly at 843.488.2413 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Charleston, Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or Florence office locations.