Our economy depends on the role that the trucking industry plays. Every day, big rigs carry the goods and materials necessary to keep America runningーall while providing for their own households. While trucking is essential, driving a large truck (whether it’s an 18-wheeler, semi or commercial vehicle) is also a dangerous profession.
Commercial trucks are big and heavy, so it should come as no surprise that when truck accidents occur, they often result in serious injuries or fatalities. In Georgia, trucks are limited to 75 feet long. With trucks this big, a full load can weigh upward of 80,000 pounds.
Causes of fatal truck accidents
There are many reasons why truckers can be killed in accidents, including:
- Driver fatigue from no rest and long distances
- Improper vehicle maintenance (brakes especially)
- Improperly trained drivers
- Operating trucks unsafelyーunder the influence of alcohol and drugs, while distracted or operating at unsafe speeds
- Failing to load the truck properly
- Not following weight, size and/or hazardous material regulations
- Another vehicle
Wrongful death benefits for fatal truck accidents
If a Georgia employee dies while driving a truck for work, their surviving loved ones may be able to file a wrongful death claim and receive compensation from the at-fault party. This compensation can either come from another driver who caused the crash or the manufacturer of a defective part.
It’s worth noting that the trucker’s employer (trucking company) generally cannot be sued for wrongful death in the event of a fatal accident. Rather, the surviving trucker’s spouse or family would pursue death benefits through the workers’ compensation system.
That said, only certain people can file a claim on the behalf of a deceased truck driver.
Their surviving spouse and/or children are the first eligible for compensation, with priority given to spouses. If the driver wasn’t married and didn’t have children, their parents can then file a wrongful death suit. Both a surviving spouse and parents can file wrongful death suits on behalf of a driver’s minor children.
A driver could also designate an estate representative to handle their legal affairs in the event of a fatal accident. An estate representative would file for a wrongful death suit for the family and then distribute the compensation.
Georgia wrongful death claims
In the event a worker dies as a result of negligence, it’s important to contact an experienced attorney before speaking with an insurance company and before signing any paperwork. Moreover, it’s beneficial that the attorney you hire isn’t affiliated with the trucking company in order for you to receive the most compensation.
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is 2 years.
However, it is possible to toll (or pause) this deadline for 5 years if there has been no probate court. Wrongful death suits are only successful if negligence can be proven. Trucking companies that fail to properly train their drivers or fail to perform proper maintenance on their trucks may be found negligent and liable for additional damages beyond what is provided by workers’ compensation.
It’s also possible to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against third parties like parts manufacturers in the event of faulty trucking parts.
While monetary compensation can never replace a life lost, financial help can allow the grieving families a way to survive after a tragic accident. Georgia allows claimants of wrongful death suits to sue for lost wages and benefits their loved one would have earned during their life, as well as additional compensation for loss of other intangibles such as love and support.
The last thing you need to worry about while trying to heal from a major loss is fighting a prolonged legal battle to receive the compensation you deserve. If you recently lost a loved one in a fatal truck accident, be sure to contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer in your area as soon as possible to get started on your claim.