Most deaths in large truck crashes are people in passenger vehicles who are vulnerable in collisions with tractor-trailers and semis. Large trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars, which creates an overwhelming impact in a fatal truck accident.
Pushing forward with your life after the loss of a loved one in a fatal semi-truck accident takes courage. It takes courage to demand justice when you are overwhelmed with grief. It takes courage to fight trucking companies and insurers as they try to deny responsibility for a wrongful death accident that took your loved one’s life. At Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer, our truck accident lawyers can provide the Kentucky Courage you need to get through this difficult time.
Call us now to speak to a Kentucky fatal truck crash lawyer who can help with your family’s wrongful death claim. The consultation is free.
When is a Kentucky Truck Crash a Wrongful Death?
A total of 4,136 people died in large truck crashes in the United States in 2018, according to federal statistics. Sixteen percent of those killed were truck occupants, 67 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 15 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists.
One of every 10 deaths in motor vehicle crashes in 2018 occurred in large truck crashes.
Ninety-six percent of vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck in 2018 were occupants of the passenger vehicles.
Kentucky state law allows the personal representative of anyone killed by another person’s negligent or wrongful action to seek compensation for their losses from the at-fault party. This is known as a wrongful death claim. The personal representative is typically the spouse or another close relative of the victim.
In a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence or intentional actions caused their loved one’s death.
This requires being able to demonstrate the existence of four basic elements:
- Duty of Care — The defendant must have had a legal duty to the victim to act in a reasonable and safe manner. Truck drivers have the same obligation to drive safely to avoid causing accidents as other drivers on public roads.
- Breach of Duty — The defendant breached the duty of care to the victim by failing to act in a reasonable and safe manner. This may be demonstrated by a violation of traffic rules such as exceeding the speed limit or through violation of any of numerous federal and state regulations regarding safe operation of a large commercial truck.
- Causation — The truck driver or trucking company’s breach of duty directly caused the victim’s injuries.
- Damages — The victim’s injuries resulted in damages that can be made better with compensation).
When our investigation of a fatal truck accident reveals evidence that satisfies the definition of a wrongful death in Kentucky, our attorneys will contact the relevant insurance company or companies to formally demand restitution to our client.
Most insurance companies will offer to settle a wrongful death claim to avoid the risks and costs of taking a case to trial. However, if an insurance company refuses to make an acceptable settlement offer in a timely manner, we will file a fatal truck accident lawsuit based on our investigation and be prepared to present a persuasive case in court.
In a commercial truck accident, the company that employs the truck driver and/or owns the truck may be held responsible for their employee’s actions, including a fatal accident. Other parties, such as contractors who load and secure cargo on a truck, or a maintenance garage, may be held liable if their negligence led to the accident, such as one caused by a cargo shift or brake failure.
Our truck accident lawyers will thoroughly investigate the accident that took your loved one and may file multiple claims for compensation to you from multiple parties.
How Our Kentucky Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help After a Fatal Truck Wreck
There is a lot of work that goes into investigating and filing a wrongful death claim. A thorough investigation must be conducted to identify all the potentially liable parties in the accident. Part of the benefit of hiring a law firm with the resources that Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer has is that we have the resources to pursue a detailed investigation and follow it wherever it leads.
In a wrongful death claim, the court must agree to who will serve as the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. If there is a will, it will often be the executor named in the will. Without a will, the probate court will typically agree to the spouse or another competent adult serving as personal representative of the estate. The appointment requires filing papers with the court, and we can assist with that.
Other tasks that we can take off of your shoulders include:
- Communicating with insurance companies
- Communicating with healthcare providers and the funeral home to ensure that your loss is properly documented and to demonstrate the damages you have suffered
- Organizing your bills and records related to the accident and your loved one’s finances to ensure that all your costs and losses are documented
- Contacting creditors to advise them that we are representing you in a truck accident wrongful death claim. Many creditors will pause collection efforts if there is pending litigation.
The attorneys at Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer will handle every aspect of your case so you can focus on recovering from your loss. We will handle all communications with the insurance companies and respond on your behalf to any questions connected to the accident.
Compensation in a Kentucky Fatal Truck Accident Claim
Part of our service to you will be to document all the costs and losses you have suffered as a result of your loved one’s death, as well as projected future losses. Based on this calculation, we will demand payment from insurers representing the truck driver, trucking companies and other liable parties. Kentucky law allows a wide range of damages to make surviving family members financially whole after a wrongful death.
A claim may seek compensation for:
- Medical bills incurred prior to the accident victim’s death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of the deceased’s income and benefits, including pensions
- Loss of inheritance
- Value of household services the individual would have provided, such as housekeeping and childcare
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of care, protection, and guidance
- Loss of companionship
- The deceased’s pain and suffering
- Survivors’ pain, suffering, and mental anguish.
In special cases, a jury may award punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish defendants for egregious conduct and to send a message to others that the public will not tolerate such outrageous behavior. Unlike many other states, Kentucky does not limit how much victims may recover in punitive damages.
Damages in a wrongful death case are distributed to surviving family members as follows:
- The surviving spouse receives the entire award when there are no children.
- The surviving spouse splits the award equally with surviving children.
- The surviving children receive the entire award when there is no surviving spouse.
- Surviving parents receive the entire award when there is no surviving spouse or surviving children.
- The estate of the deceased person receives the entire award when there is no surviving spouse, surviving children or surviving parents, and the award is divided according to the deceased’s will.
Wrongful death settlements are often lump-sum payments, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) generally considers these payments to be non-taxable. A settlement could instead be structured so that damages are paid out regularly over a number of years.
Contact a Kentucky Truck Accident Lawyer
Talking to a lawyer may be the last thing you want to do when you are grieving a loss. But you should speak to an experienced fatal truck accident attorney as soon as you are able after a fatal commercial truck accident. It’s important to understand your options and protect your legal rights.
The attorneys of Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer can begin promptly to investigate and take steps to preserve evidence before it’s lost. We will develop a claim for you so that Kentucky’s one-year statute of limitations on wrongful death claims does not become an issue in your case.
The fatal truck accident attorneys at Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer provide compassionate and experienced counsel for Kentucky families who have lost loved ones because of someone else’s negligence or intentional act. We understand federal and state laws regulating truck drivers, trucking companies and the trucking industry and what to look for when investigating accidents. We will counsel you during your time of need as we fight for your rights to full compensation for your losses.
We represent clients with wrongful death claims on a contingency fee basis. That means we will not expect to be paid a legal fee unless we recover a settlement or a jury award for you. Please call us now at (877) 809-5352 or contact us online to set up your free legal consultation and let us help you demand justice for your loved one.