The Texas Wrongful Death Act allows certain family members of a truck accident victim to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit and collect compensation for their losses. If you have questions about your right to compensation after a loved one was killed in a truck accident with a negligent driver, D. Miller & Associates, PLLC, is here to help. Call our wrongful death attorneys today at 713-850-8600 for a free case evaluation.
What Damages Can I Recover If I Sue?
Texas limits the types of damages family members can recover through a wrongful death lawsuit after a truck accident. Through this type of claim, you can only collect compensation to cover your personal financial expenses and losses, as well as your own emotional losses. Some of the most common types of damages we recover for our clients include:
- Funeral expenses, medical bills, or other financial costs;
- Lost earning capacity, which pays for the loss of your loved one’s future income;
- Cost of your emotional support services, such as grief counseling;
- Loss of services, including parental or spousal services;
- Loss of support at home, including maintenance, chores, and child care;
- Mental anguish;
- Loss of companionship;
- Loss of inheritance; and
- Punitive damages, if the court believes this is applicable.
Which Family Members Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?
Only certain family members can file a wrongful death action under Texas law. Unless you fall into one of these categories, the state’s Wrongful Death Act bars you from filing this type of suit against the liable trucking company. Those who can pursue compensation through a wrongful death suit include:
- A spouse;
- Parents; and
- The administrator of the estate, after three months and with the family’s permission.
Only one person needs to sue for wrongful death damages after a negligent truck driver takes the life of your family member. The outcome of the suit will benefit everyone who qualifies to file their own claim.
How Do I File a Claim or Lawsuit?
Truck accidents are much more complex than most car accidents. Because of a legal doctrine known as vicarious liability, the truck driver who acted carelessly or recklessly and caused the accident is not the primary liable party. Instead, their employer is responsible for their employee’s negligent actions and the damages they caused, including those payable through wrongful death actions. That means you can file a claim or lawsuit against the trucking company, not the driver.
An experienced 18-wheeler accident lawyer in Houston can take on a trucking corporation and its legal team, filing a claim against its business liability insurance policy to recover the compensation you deserve. There are also additional considerations in these cases, including the vast amount of supporting evidence that lies in the hands of the trucking company.
To ensure we have access to this evidence, your Houston truck accident lawyers will take immediate action by sending a spoliation letter to the trucking company, asking it to preserve the documentation that could show their driver’s negligence. This may include:
- Driver rest logs;
- Digital data from the truck’s onboard computer;
- Dash cam video if available;
- Post-accident drug and alcohol tests;
- Driver personnel records, including training and a record of any other incidents;
- Maintenance records for the truck;
- Truck permit information; and
- Images of the truck before and after the crash.
We will complete an investigation into what caused the crash, collecting police reports, interviewing witnesses, and even enlisting the help of an accident reconstruction team when necessary. This allows us to prove the truck driver acted negligently, that they were working at the time of the crash, and that the trucking company is liable for your loved one’s death.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
You have two years after your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable trucking company. However, if you are an eligible family member and decide not to file a claim during the first three months after their death, the administrator of the estate can act on your behalf. This is only allowed if you do not object to their suit.
Do I Have Other Options to Recover Damages?
In addition to a wrongful death action, there may be another way to collect compensation through a civil suit. This is a survival claim. We can pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit on your behalf to collect the compensation your loved one could have collected through a personal injury action had they survived the crash.
Unlike a wrongful death suit, a survival claim provides benefits to the estate instead of directly to family members. This compensation covers the losses the victim suffered, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering that occurred between the time of the accident and their death.
How Can I Talk to an Attorney?
The truck accident team at D. Miller & Associates, PLLC, can help you recover the compensation you deserve after losing a loved one because of a negligent trucker. We offer free consultations and handle these cases on a contingency basis. Call us today at 713-850-8600 for your complimentary case evaluation.