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Fatal Truck Accidents Increase for Third Straight Year

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released some disturbing news. According to the agency, fatal accidents involving large trucks across the nation increased 3.7 percent in 2012, which is the most recent year data is available. This marks the third consecutive year of an increase in truck accident fatalities.

Anyone who has witnessed a truck accident knows that when a truck hits a smaller motor vehicle, the result can be catastrophic. In addition to a great likelihood of severe property damage and permanent debilitating injuries, truck accidents are much more likely to kill at least one person that was involved.

Although it is not always the case, many truck accidents are caused by the negligence of the driver or trucking company. In some cases, improper loading or maintenance of the truck can cause the accident. In other cases, the truck driver may have been speeding, using drugs, or alcohol or texting while behind the wheel.

Legal remedies available

If you have lost a loved one in a truck accident and suspect that it was caused by negligence, you may wonder whether you have legal recourse for your losses. Under California law, spouses, children, or domestic partners (among others) have the right to seek compensation for losses associated with their loved one's death by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

A wrongful death occurs in California when a person is killed as a result of the negligence of a person or company. Although the negligent party may also face criminal charges for his or her role in the accident, a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action whose outcome is not dependent on what results from the criminal charges (if there are any).

Under California's wrongful death statute, eligible parties (i.e. close family members) may recover damages such as:

  • Burial and funeral expenses of the deceased
  • Loss of financial support provided by the deceased
  • Loss of household services
  • Loss of comfort, love and care that the deceased provided
  • Loss of other benefits or gifts that the deceased would have provided (e.g. inheritances)

In addition to the above damages, parties may also recover punitive damages in cases where the negligent party's conduct was intentional, malicious, or reckless. These damages are not based on any financial loss caused by the deceased's death, but are intended to punish the negligent party and deter others from engaging in similar conduct in the future.

An attorney can help

If a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a truck accident , it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can advise you of your claim and work to ensure that you receive adequate compensation for your losses.