CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: What We Are Doing to Protect Our Clients

Deadly California Big Rig Accidents

big rig

Any traffic accident where one or more of the vehicles involved in a semi-truck, 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer, or another type of huge commercial big rig is much more likely to cause fatalities than a collision between passenger vehicles. According to statistics cited by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), large, heavy commercial trucks cause more fatalities per mile than any other category of vehicle.

Wrongful death claims are complex. Commercial big rig accidents add additional complicating layers. There are usually multiple negligent parties that share responsibility for the death - those parties could include a combination of the following:

  • The truck driver
  • The truck owner
  • The truck company that employed the driver
  • The company that hired the truck company to haul goods

If a lawsuit is filed, there may be multiple defendants sued, and each will have their own insurance policy, so the claimant may be dealing with more than one or even several insurance companies. Because there are so many intricacies involved in such a case, coupled with the high monetary damages usually sought in a wrongful death claim, it is a wise idea to retain a skilled Northern California truck accident attorney, such as the injury lawyers at AutoAccident.com, as soon as possible after a deadly accident.

Insurance Company Tactics

The number one priority for an insurance company is to make money. The number two priority for an insurance company is to keep its money. That is accomplished by denying or low-balling the value of claims. The adjusters and attorneys who work for insurance companies know that their job is to pay as little as possible to claimants. Some of the strategies used by insurance companies are:

  • Delaying the claims process by not returning calls or responding to your inquiries
  • Trying to get you to say things that are harmful to your claim during a recorded statement
  • Downplaying the damages in a case
  • Making a low offer - far less than the case value  - and urging you to settle quickly

We wish that insurance companies made it easier for claimants to receive fair compensation, especially in a wrongful death matter when the family members are grieving and have no emotional bandwidth to deal with the adjuster's tactics. Many people, understandably, want to try to handle the insurance claim without hiring an attorney but soon find that the adjusters are, at best, unreasonable.

Hiring an experienced trucking accident wrongful death lawyer will:

  • Allow you more focused time to grieve by taking the legal matter off of your mind
  • Protect your legal rights by gathering crucial evidence and protecting legal timelines
  • Maximize your economic recovery
Big Rig Accidents - Determining Fault

Even in a situation where a truck driver acted negligently and without a doubt caused the accident, that does not mean that there will be no other responsible parties. For one, the trucking company that employed the driver will also be involved since the employer is responsible for wrongful acts committed by its workers in the scope of employment. As listed in the prior section, there may be other liable parties as well. If the deceased’s actions are found to have contributed to the accident, any settlement or verdict reached by the next of kin will be reduced by the deceased’s percentage of fault. This legal concept is known as comparative negligence, and California is a comparative negligence state.

Big Rig Accidents - Gathering Crucial Evidence

As soon as possible after the fatal incident, a skilled attorney will begin to gather evidence to support the case. This could include, but is not limited to:

  • The police report
  • Photographs of the scene
  • Witness statements
  • Any available video recordings

From there, as the case progresses, there will be additional evidence compiled to document the damages that the grieving family has suffered. A skilled attorney will know how to make a compelling presentation that illustrates how much the deceased did for the family during their life and how much the death has impacted the family.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Following a Truck Accident

Often when the damages are great, as they almost always are in deadly big rig accidents, insurance companies will not offer the full value of the case. Many times, the offers to settlement may be downright insulting to the surviving family. If an informal settlement cannot be reached, the next of kin may decide to file a lawsuit. The next of kin is usually the deceased spouse and/or children. If there are no children and no spouse, the parents or siblings of the deceased may be able to file suit.  

Once a lawsuit is filed, more legal complexities arise during litigation. It can be a long, drawn-out process, but a good injury lawyer will keep you updated and work toward maximizing your financial recovery.  

Potential Damages in a Truck Accident Wrongful Death Case

Following the determination of liability (fault), the legal process will turn to the calculation of damages. The documentation of damages in a wrongful death matter is a crucial part of the case. If an attorney does not have the expertise to capture all the losses, the family may not be compensated for the full value of the case. While money will not ease the heartbreak, an untimely death can cause serious financial difficulties for the family left behind. The goal of the civil lawsuit is to compensate for those losses. 

Damages that may be sought in a wrongful death matter could include:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Expenses associated with burial
  • Any medical bills incurred due to the incident before the time of death
  • Loss of future income
  • Noneconomic damages, including loss of love, support, companionship, household services, parental guidance, and more.

Watch the YouTube video.  The clip below of a big rig accident in Sacramento shows just how destructive a large, heavy commercial truck can be.

Find a Wrongful Death Lawyer Who Will Fight for Your Family

Big rig accidents account for some of the worst collisions on California highways. The size and weight of a semi-truck or other commercial vehicle make many such accidents fatal. The wrongful death lawyers at AutoAccident.com have helped numerous grieving Northern California families recover damages following the loss of a loved one in a truck accident.

We strive to advocate for our clients with expertise and with compassion. We know the heartbreak that follows the sudden death of a beloved family member. We know that no amount of money will take away the pain. One of our goals is to take the legal matters off of your mind so that you can fully grieve. We also seek to maximize your financial recovery, as the death of a contributing family member can have financial repercussions for a family for years to come. 

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one in a big rig accident, please call our injury lawyers at (916) 921-6400 or toll-free from anywhere in Northern California at (800) 404-5400. If you prefer, you may also send an inquiry via our online form

Image by blinkend from Pixabay 

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