Is A Fatality In A Truck Accident Handled Differently From A Regular Claim?
The process to go about recovery is very similar. First, you have to establish what the facts of the wreck are and then you have to establish liability on the trucking company or the driver. You have to determine whether an independent claim exists against the trucking company for what is called negligent hiring, training or supervision of the driver. That is simply that the trucking company did not do its job in hiring, training or supervising the driver. Then the damages in a wrongful death case are determined by statute. Both in Kansas and Missouri, there are separate wrongful death statutes that lay out the elements of damage for wrongful death claims as well as establish the identity of legal heirs that are entitled to recover under the particular statute.
Determination Of The Amount Of Recovery In A Trucking Accident Claim
The calculation of damages in a personal injury case are generally based on a total amount of the medical bills incurred. It includes both past medical bills and any reasonably expected future medical treatment. The same goes with lost wages, you are entitled to recover for past lost wages and any expected future loss of earnings or lost wages as a result of the injuries sustained in a wreck. Those are the hard numbers.
The lost wages and the medical bills, then the third element would be pain and suffering. In that sort of death, that is the open ended portion of the claim. Pain and suffering damages are typically determined by the nature and extent of the injuries. Whether the injuries are permanent, the effect on somebody’s future, ability to enjoy life, whether it is play with your kids or play golf or whatever it is that people enjoy doing in their life. If they are not able to do that anymore, that would fall under the category of pain and suffering.
Another element of damages that should always be investigated thoroughly in a truck wreck is the prospect for punitive damages or aggravated liability. Many times in these cases, there is some fact or a number of facts that would lead to the assessment of punitive damages or aggravating circumstances, aggravated liability in these cases and that is something that should be explored thoroughly throughout discovery.
The Role Of Evidence In A Trucking Accident Claim
The documentation of evidence at the scene and identification of witnesses is absolutely critical. Time is of the essence in these claims. Many times, the highway patrol will go to the scene of a wreck and do varying degrees of investigation. If it involves a fatality, typically a full reconstruction will be done by the highway patrol. But the ability to get your own accident reconstructionist, your own photographer, your own investigator to the scene of a wreck to interview witnesses independently is crucial!
It is probably one of the more significant advantages, and by that I mean the trucking company almost immediately after a catastrophic wreck will send investigators, photographers and reconstructionist to the scene of a wreck. Many times, trucking companies will call a lawyer and I have had cases where the lawyer arrived at the scene of the wreck before the highway patrol arrived there. Preservation of evidence and documentation of things at the scene are very critical.
How Do I Begin The Claims Process Against A Large Trucking Company?
The first step would be to contact a lawyer that is experienced in handling truck accidents. There are hundreds if not thousands of lawyers but a very small percentage of those lawyers actually have experience in handling truck claims. The lawyers that handle truck claims have attended seminars and have spoken on topics involving the trucking industry and know the trucking industry and know the regulations. The first thing that you would want to do to begin a claim arising out of one of these wrecks would be to contact a lawyer that is experienced in handling trucking cases.
I would want to ask that lawyer what your history of handling these cases is, how many of these cases have you handled, can you give me references of former clients that you have represented in these cases, and just generally get an understanding of how familiar they are with the industry and the regulations. From there, that lawyer should be able to assist you in pursuing your claim.
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