Most truck accident fatalities are passenger-vehicle occupants. Even when outfitted with the most innovative safety features, standard cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs are no match for a fully loaded tractor-trailer in the event of a wreck.
Motor-vehicle collisions are a leading cause of wrongful death in the United States. If your loved one died in a large truck crash and it turns out that the trucker was an employee—rather than an independent contractor—you may be able to hold the motor carrier vicariously liable.
Read on to learn the answers to some frequently asked questions about wrongful death claims against motor carriers:
1. What Kinds of Evidence Might Strengthen My Claim?
The strongest evidence of liability will depend on the circumstances of the accident. If the trucker was drunk, for example, your attorney can help you obtain the results of any chemical tests conducted at the scene or shortly thereafter. If, on the other hand, drowsy driving played a role, the trucker’s daily logs might indicate an hours of service violation.
Other valuable evidence might include:
• Black box data;
• Eyewitness deposition;
• Weigh station receipts;
• Maintenance records;
• Cell phone records;
• Photographs of the wreckage; and
• Dash cam footage of the crash.
2. Which Family Members Can Actually File the Claim?
Although dozens of people might mourn the loss, only a few parties have the right to bring the wrongful death claim. Such individuals include the deceased’s surviving:
• Grandparents; and
As you can see, the deceased’s spouse has priority when it comes to bringing the claim, followed by the other parties in the order listed above. The party who has the right to bring the claim may choose to appoint a trustee to file the claim on their behalf. Any funds that result from the action would be distributed among the appropriate beneficiaries in accordance with state law.
3. How Long Do I Have to File the Lawsuit?
If the motor carrier—or their insurance adjuster—refuses to pay a fair settlement, filing a formal lawsuit may be the best way to pursue the compensation you deserve. In the state of Minnesota, the standard statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is three years.
In other words, you have three years from the date on which the victim died to file suit. If you try to bring the case to court after this deadline has passed, the judge will almost certainly dismiss it.
It’s important to note, however, that there are a few exceptions that can either shorten or extend this deadline. As such, it’s wise to consult a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Call 320-259-5414 for a Free Consultation with a St. Cloud Truck Accident Attorney
If your loved one was killed in a large truck crash, contact Bradshaw & Bryant to determine the most strategic way to proceed. From the moment you call our office to the day your case is resolved, you will be treated with the utmost compassion, respect, and professionalism. Call 320-259-5414 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a truck accident lawyer in St. Cloud.
A founding partner with Bradshaw & Bryant, Mike Bryant has always fought to find justice for his clients—knowing that legal troubles, both personal injury and criminal, can be devastating for a family. Voted a Top 40 Personal Injury "Super Lawyer" multiple years, Mr. Bryant has also been voted one of the Top 100 Minnesota "Super Lawyers" four times.