Due to the size of a truck or tractor-trailer, any collisions in which a truck is involved can be catastrophic. With some trucks weighing as much as 80,000 pounds, the chances of fatality are tragically much higher in an accident involving a truck than in a typical car crash, especially for those occupying smaller passenger vehicles. Losing a loved one in a Georgia truck accident can be emotionally devastating — and no amount of compensation can ease your grief and sorrow. However, by filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you can hold the negligent party accountable for their actions.
Common Causes of Fatal Truck Accidents in Georgia
There are many factors that can contribute to fatal truck wrecks. Fatigue, driving under the influence, and speeding are just a few reasons collisions might occur — and all of these scenarios can be avoided. In addition, while truck drivers may not have control over the weather or roadwork, they must still exercise due care in all circumstances to avoid an accident.
Other causes of fatal truck accidents can include:
- Improper training
- Lack of experience
- Failure to maintain or inspect the truck
- Defective braking systems
- Vehicle malfunctions
- Roadway conditions or debris
There may be one or more parties who can be held responsible for a fatal truck wreck. For instance, not only might the truck driver be to blame, but the trucking company can also be vicariously liable for the actions of an employee during the scope of their employment. If a part or piece of equipment was defective, the manufacturer might be a party to the lawsuit. In some cases, a municipality may be sued if hazardous roadway conditions caused the accident.
Who Can Pursue a Wrongful Death Action for a Truck Accident?
A wrongful death claim following a truck accident is similar to a personal injury action in that it requires showing the defendant’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness was the direct cause of the harm suffered by the victim. But in a wrongful death case, someone else is permitted to file the action against the party responsible for the accident.
Under Georgia law, only specific family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased victim. These individuals include the victim’s spouse or the victim’s child if no spouse is alive. If there is no surviving spouse or child, the decedent’s parents may commence the action. In the event that none of these eligible parties have survived the victim, the administrator or executor of the estate can file the claim.
Significantly, no other family member — including the victim’s siblings or grandparents — is eligible to file the suit. If the executor of the victim’s estate brings an action, any damages recovered will be held for the benefit of the next of kin.
What Damages are Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?
In a Georgia wrongful death action, a truck accident victim’s surviving family members may be entitled to recover “the full value of the life of the decedent.” However, the law does not permit the victim’s loved ones to recover compensation for the emotional anguish or grief they experienced due to the fatality.
Compensable damages in a wrongful death case are based on economic and non-economic components. Economic losses are usually fairly easy to determine and can include lost earnings, benefits, and the value of services performed by the decedent. The non-economic component is often more complex to calculate and must be decided by a jury. This category of damages considers various intangible elements such as loss of the victim’s companionship, care, and counsel.
The estate may also be entitled to file a separate “estate claim” to recover compensation for the victim’s medical costs incurred in connection with the fatal truck accident, funeral expenses, and burial expenses. Additionally, the estate might be eligible to receive monetary recovery for the pain and suffering the victim endured as a result of their injuries, before they passed away. If the truck driver’s conduct was particularly reckless and egregious, a jury might also find that an award of punitive damages is warranted.
Contact an Experienced Georgia Wrongful Death Attorney
If you have lost a loved one in a Georgia truck accident, it’s crucial to consult with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. There are specific statutes of limitation that can bar your ability to bring a claim after a certain amount of time has passed. At The McGarity Group, LLC, we are dedicated to providing compassionate counsel in wrongful death actions resulting from truck accidents — and are committed to holding the wrongdoer responsible for their negligence. Additionally, our firm is well versed in probate law, in the event an Estate Administrator or Executor needs to be recognized by the Court to proceed with the wrongful death action. To schedule a complimentary consultation at our Buford office, contact us today.