Did you lose a loved one in an accident involving a tractor-trailer or another large truck? Was it caused by the truck driver’s or trucking company’s careless actions? If so, contact Goings Law Firm, LLC immediately to learn about your legal options for pursuing financial compensation in an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Commercial trucks, a fixture of the U.S. driving experience, can easily become a threat to everyone on the road if the driver is negligent, the trucking company has failed to maintain the vehicle, or the truck malfunctions due to a design defect. A collision with a commercial truck, in Columbia or elsewhere, is likely to cause serious damage, including injury and in the worst cases, death. It is tragic when a wrongful death occurs due to an irresponsible truck driver or company, as this accident was likely preventable.
At Goings Law Firm, LLC, our Columbia legal team understands the challenges a family must cope with following an incident of wrongful death. We believe that a grieving family should focus on recovering and not have to worry about any expenses associated with the accident. Our Columbia wrongful death attorneys may fight tirelessly on your behalf in the pursuit of financial restitution from the parties responsible for the death of your loved one.
For a free consultation with an experienced and dedicated lawyer from Goings Law Firm, LLC, call us today at (803) 350-9230.
Common Types of Commercial Trucks
Commercial trucks are a common sight on Columbia roadways. They’re vital to the economy but also pose a serious risk to other drivers. When an accident occurs, the occupants of smaller vehicles are likely to suffer severe injuries and even death.
The most common types of commercial trucks are:
- Refrigerated trucks
- Box trucks
- Big rigs
- Delivery trucks and vans
- Dump and garbage trucks
- Heavy haulers
- Cement mixers
- Flatbed trucks
- Tanker trucks
Large trucks require skilled and experienced drivers. They can be challenging to operate, especially in heavy traffic and adverse weather. Any error the truck driver makes could result in a crash. When that happens, the victim’s family can pursue the compensation they need to pay for funeral expenses and other costs associated with their loved one’s death.
What Is Wrongful Death?
South Carolina defines wrongful death as neglect, default, or a wrongful act that results in the death of a person. The actions of the at-fault party must be something that the deceased could have filed a personal injury claim for if they had survived the accident.
When a loved one is lost in a crash, it becomes the surviving family members’ responsibility to pursue a case on their behalf. Only specific relatives are allowed to file a lawsuit to recover compensation. They are:
- Surviving spouse and children
- If there isn’t a spouse or child, the surviving parents
- Heirs to the deceased’s estate if there aren’t surviving relatives
If you lost your son or daughter in a truck accident, you would have the legal right to pursue a wrongful death claim. Even if they were an adult at the time that they passed away from their fatal injuries, you could still seek compensation from the at-fault party.
Causes of Wrongful Death Trucking Accidents
Trucking accidents can occur in Columbia for a number of different reasons. Everyone in the trucking industry plays an important role in ensuring other drivers’ safety. If a repair company fails to fix damage promptly or a truck driver becomes distracted behind the wheel, an accident could occur.
Common reasons a wrongful death may occur as the result of a truck driver’s negligent behavior are:
- Reckless driving
- Distracted driving
- Disobeying traffic signs and signals
- Driver fatigue
- Taking a turn too fast
- Failure to check blind spots
Common reasons trucking companies may be responsible for truck accidents are:
- Inadequate maintenance and repair
- Lack of supervision
- Defective or malfunctioning truck parts
- Improperly loaded trailer
- Failure to perform thorough background checks on new drivers
- Failure to provide training
- Encouraging drivers to exceed hours of service regulations to meet deadlines
If you believe the death of your loved one was caused by one of the above or another reason associated with a truck accident, speak with a wrongful death attorney in Columbia who can help you understand your legal options.
When someone’s negligent actions cause a death, that person should be held accountable in court. It is your right to file a lawsuit or insurance claim and secure a monetary award to cover the losses you suffered. You should not be responsible for the expenses you incurred when someone else was at fault for the crash.
Insurance Laws for Trucking Companies
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates trucking companies and the amount of insurance coverage they must purchase for their drivers. Liability insurance is necessary to protect these companies if a trucker causes an accident that results in injuries, property damage, or death.
The minimum required limits of liability are:
- $300,000 – Non-hazardous cargo in trucks under 10,001 pounds
- $750,000 – Trucks over 10,000 pounds carrying non-hazardous materials
- $1 million to $5 million – Trucks transporting oil and hazardous freight
These limits are significantly higher than the liability coverage required for non-commercial drivers. That’s because tractor-trailers often cause more severe damage and injuries than passenger vehicles. Higher coverage is necessary to compensate for the victim’s various losses, such as medical expenses and car repairs.
If you lose someone in a truck accident, among the first things you should do are determine the available liability limits and then file a claim. Goings Law Firm, LLC can help you with those steps of the legal process. Our Columbia wrongful death lawyers are familiar with insurance policies and can request a copy from the trucking company for review.
Compensation You Might Be Entitled to from the Trucking Company
Whether you choose to file an insurance claim or lawsuit, you should pursue the maximum compensation available to cover your various losses. These losses could include economic and emotional hardships you faced due to the death of your relative.
The most common losses you could seek in a wrongful death case include:
- Lost wages and benefits the deceased would have earned if they were still alive
- Funeral and burial costs
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish surviving relatives experienced from the death
- Medical expenses associated with the deceased’s fatal injury
- Loss of companionship, knowledge, care, protection, and judgment provided by the deceased
- Property damage and additional economic losses resulting from the death
You might also be entitled to punitive damages. Instead of compensating you and your family’s losses, it aims to punish the defendant for their misconduct and deter similar behavior in the future. Punitive damages are a challenging financial award to receive in a lawsuit. You must prove to the jury using clear and convincing evidence that the harm suffered was due to the at-fault party’s wanton, willful, or reckless conduct.
Deadline for Filing a Lawsuit In South Carolina
A “statute of limitations” is the timeframe you must follow if you want to sue someone for the wrongful death of your loved one. According to South Carolina statute § 15-3-530, the statute of limitations in this state is three years. That means you have three years from the date your family member died to file your lawsuit. If the deadline passes but you try to file anyway, the court will likely dismiss your case because the statute has expired.
Consult a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Columbia
The death of a loved one can take a tremendous toll on a family. That’s why the Columbia lawyers at Goings Law Firm, LLC have dedicated our careers to helping families in Columbia seek compensation for wrongful deaths. We know this has been a traumatic and overwhelming time in your life. You’re not only grieving the loss of a relative, but you’re also dealing with the legal aspects of a case. It can cause significant stress as you and your family try to heal your emotional wounds and move forward with your lives.
When you hire Goings Law Firm, LLC, we can handle each step of the process on your behalf. You won’t have to concern yourself with investigations, filing deadlines, or collecting evidence. Our legal team has the experience necessary to take on all responsibility and work hard to secure a favorable outcome.
If you are in need of legal guidance during this difficult time, our legal team may help you. Call (803) 350-9230 today to speak with a wrongful death lawyer in Columbia.