Are Trucking Companies Required to Compensate Families of Fatal Accidents?
Having represented hundreds of families who have lost loved ones, we certainly know that money is not the primary motivator behind why families file wrongful death lawsuits. But, in America, civil justice is meted out by forcing bad actors to pay their victims. And while most people understand that fatal accidents often ultimately result in compensation, it might surprise you to learn that trucking companies are not required by law to compensate you for your losses. That’s because in our legal system, it is the burden of the plaintiff to prove the defendant is liable.
In short, you are not owed anything until you prove the truck driver/trucking company was at fault for the accident and prove that you have damages. Despite this fact, most Americans believe that such compensation is automatic or that the law says that the trucking company must recognize their own fault and do the right thing. In 25 years of practice, we’ve seen trucking companies move heaven and earth in an attempt to avoid liability, but we’ve never seen them voluntarily accept liability when so much is on the line.
With this in mind, there are a couple issues I’d like to mention. Even though the law doesn’t automatically entitle you to the compensation you might anticipate, there are some things you can do to make sure you put yourself in the best possible position to be successful with your claim.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- Is the trucking company required to compensate me for my loved one’s accident?
- We’ll look at the steps you can take to protect the integrity of your case
- We’ll cover what to do if you would like to talk to someone about your claim
The Best Reason to Pursue a Wrongful Death Case
We are of the opinion that no one should ever feel pressured to file a lawsuit. Some people simply have philosophical reasons that they do not wish to do so, and such opinions are equally as valid as the opposite opinion. But it should also be pointed out that seeking compensation is not the only reason to sue a trucking company who took your relative’s life. You see, the whole reason that compensation is even the outcome of civil cases is because making someone literally pay for their mistakes is a deterrent to future misconduct. In other words, the payment of money is the means, but discouraging bad behavior is the end goal.
And while it’s incredibly unlikely that your family will ever suffer at the hands of the same trucking company again, odds are that if they’re not punished and punished hard, the trucking company won’t change their ways, and it’s just a matter of time before someone else’s family is going through what your family has endured.
A Word About Insurance Companies
If ever there was a trucking company that was built on family values and they had a desire to do right by their victims, it would be of little consequence. At the end of the day, trucking companies are required by law to carry high-value insurance policies. Also, the law requires insurance carriers to defend their trucking company customers. The result of this is that insurance companies and their lawyers call the shots, not the trucking company. It will likely not surprise you to learn, however, that most trucking companies are more than willing to help their insurance carrier fend of your claim. If it’s not obvious at this point, understand, in no uncertain terms, that the law does not require the insurance carrier to pay you unless you mount a case against them and beat them in court (or thoroughly convince them that they will ultimately lose, prompting them to want to settle). As such, there is no reason to speak with the insurance carrier. Their job is to try to find any way they can to undermine your claim, so your best bet is to avoid contact with them altogether.
But you may be wondering, “Do insurance carriers ever offer a settlement before hiring a lawyer or going to trial?” Sure, it can happen, but it strains credulity to think that it would ever be for a reasonable amount. Pretend you’re the insurance carrier and the law requires you to protect your insured. You could easily conclude that offering a little “go away” settlement and closing the matter out will protect your insured from the possibility of a multi-million dollar lawsuit. But you’d also consider that there are a thousand steps along the way to trial wherein the victim or their lawyer could make a mistake, so why in the world would you just assume that they’re going to beat before the case even starts and pay them a fair settlement? It would not be a prudent business decision to do so.
But, still, you could always justify offering 10 cents on the dollar. In fact, we have a case we’re currently litigating wherein a truck driver killed a woman in her 20s and, prior to our involvement in the case, the insurance carrier’s lawyer told her that he would offer about $100,000. That is a considerable amount of money, no doubt, but as of our last negotiation, the trucking company was offering our client $1.5 million, and we rejected that offer and are still negotiating at the time of this writing. The point is that there is no good reason for an insurance carrier to offer fair compensation until you’ve built a case against them and have them scared of what a jury may make them pay if push comes to shove.
What Steps Can I Take to Protect the Integrity of my Case?
In order to put yourself in the best position for your claim, there are a few things you’ll want to do to make sure you have a solid claim.
- Get in touch with an experienced attorney about your claim.
- Take steps to document and preserve evidence from the site of the accident.
- Refrain from posting about the accident on any kind of social media, as this could ultimately hinder your claim.
- Avoid any communication with the trucking company or their lawyers or insurance carrier.
- Act quickly so that all of the evidence that currently exists can be gathered up by your lawyer before it is lost to time.
Call Grossman Law Offices
I can’t stress enough how important it is to quickly contact a lawyer and get them on your claim. Truck accident cases are quite different from car accident cases, and they need to be handled properly. An experienced attorney knows the right sequence of actions that needs to take place in order to be successful with your claim. We have lawyers available 24/7 to speak with you about your case. Call us today at (855) 326-0000.
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