Personal injury Library

How Do Trucking Companies Use Family Issues to Devalue Your Claim?

How trucking companies make victim's or their family members look bad, and how that could impact your case

Trucking companies facing the substantial costs of a civil suit after a crash love nothing more than to try to portray good families as dysfunctional to lower the jury's opinion of the plaintiff. If you've been in a trucking accident, the aftermath can be difficult to deal with and even harder to understand. During your recovery, you may not even realize that there are things that need to be done to make sure that the trucking company responsible for your injuries is brought to justice. In a trucking accident claim - especially ones that result in fatalities - the amounts of damages at stake are often substantial and consequently the trucking company, their lawyers, and their insurer will all go to great lengths to defend against your claim.

One of the more underhanded tactics that trucking companies use in an attempt to devalue your claim is trying to turn the jury against you by misrepresenting your character or relationship with a loved one. In essence, they are arguing that, in a personal injury case, you, the victim, are a bad person. Or, in a wrongful death case, that your relationship wasn't that strong with the victim when they died, so you didn't lose as much in the accident as you would've if you were closer.

Questions Answered in This Article:

  • Why would a trucking company attack the character of an accident victim?
  • How does this happen?
  • What can I do to make sure family issues don't hurt my case?

How Truck Company Defense Lawyers Devalue Your Claim

The trucking company will fabricate issues to make you seem less likable to the jury or make it seem as though your relationship with a lost loved one had been strained. Because these two objectives are somewhat distinct, the specific tactics used to do so also vary between injury and wrongful death claims.

Injury claim

When a trucking company is involved in an injury claim, it's common for them to try to uncover any dirt on the victim that might shift a jury's opinion in the defendant's favor. For instance, if the injured person had past tickets for speeding or other traffic accidents, the company's attorneys might argue that their history of reckless driving supports the idea that their failure to control speed caused the crash. If they're successful in this effort, a jury might be inclined to award you substantially less for your injuries, because it appears that you contributed to your own accident.

Death claim

In fatality cases, trucking companies will take a somewhat different tack. Instead of attacking the deceased's behavior, they're likely to spend a lot of effort trying to find any evidence they can that surviving family members were not on good terms with their now-deceased relatives. That's because this claim depends on how much you've suffered, and your case can be devalued accordingly if your relationship with the victim was strained or there was discord in the family.

Even when it might seem obvious that the trucking company and its negligent driver are responsible for your injuries, the trucking company will have its lawyers do almost anything to keep them from having to compensate you fairly. They will exploit any personal family issues they can, including:

  • marital discord
  • estrangement between family members
  • periods of non-communication between the deceased victim and their children

The argument that the trucking company's lawyers will try to apply to a claim is that if the victim did not have a perfect relationship with the family, it somehow diminishes the loss the family has suffered. Sometimes there really is something to their arguments, but they often overstate the issue, taking very small, normal family issues and spinning them into a tale of Shakespearean family drama.

How our attorneys defeat their underhanded tactics

In an injury claim, you'll be provided an opportunity to explain your side of the story to the jury. If anything has been misrepresented or taken out of context, you can set the record straight. If the trucking company is reaching too far, we can ask the judge to strike that information from the record because it is overly prejudicial.

In a wrongful death claim, there are many ways that our attorneys can help you demonstrate the closeness and depth of the family ties to the loved one you lost, even if at the time of the loss things were not at their best between you. If nothing else, we can help illustrate that the negligence of the trucking company's driver has robbed you of ever having the opportunity to repair the rift or make amends with your deceased loved one. This can be illustrated through family photos, mementos, and even social media. We will explore all options available to us to illustrate the depth of your loss and the validity of your claim.

For example, we had a case where an 18-year-old girl was killed by an 18-wheeler when the truck ran he over her as she walked along the sidewalk. Her mother hired us to pursue a claim. The mother and her daughter were incredibly close. The mother was devastated at the loss. Her ex-husband had it out for her and he talked to the trucking company and told them stories to make them think less of her as a mom. But we were able to show evidence of birthday cards and text messages between the mother and daughter. Additionally we had Facebook chats and other evidence that the relationship was strong between the two. So, we were able to demonstrate that the ex-husband was just trying to create trouble. Our response put our client in the best possible position to have a successful claim despite these attempts by the defendant to muddy the waters.

Even in situations where the surviving spouse and the deceased victim were not legally married, strong arguments allow the surviving spouse to make the wrongful death claim. In many jurisdictions, the right to sue on a wrongful death claim is only available to the legally married spouse and biological relatives of the deceased victim. However, courts have started to recognize the validity of a wrongful death claim by the survivor in a common law marriage. Our civil justice system has begun to recognize the reality of the society we live in even if the law on the books has not yet.

For example, in one case the surviving common law spouse of a deceased victim killed in a trucking accident brought a wrongful death claim against the trucking company. Even though she and the victim had lived together for over 17 years, had four biological children together who bore the deceased victim's last name, the deceased victim was the sole source of income for the household, and the surviving spouse was a homemaker, the trucking company's defense attorneys tried to argue that, because the couple was not legally married according to the statute she had no standing, or right to make the claim for the wrongful death action. The judge disagreed with the trucking company's lawyers and the case was able to proceed.

Grossman Law Offices Can Help You Fight The Trucking Company's Misleading Attacks

We will interview family, friends, co-workers, and anyone else we have to, with the ultimate goal of giving your claim the best possible chance of success. We will not allow the trucking company and their lawyers to devalue your injury or wrongful death claim. Contact our lawyers at (855) 326-0000, and we can fight to make you whole for the terrible losses you've suffered.

Here Are Some Additional Articles Covering Other Defenses Used by Trucking Companies:

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