With more trucks on the road now than ever before, the risk of being involved in an accident with one has increased. Whether it’s an 18-wheeler, delivery truck, or other large-sized commercial vehicle that is involved in an accident, the consequences for those involved can be devastating. Since these vehicles are so much larger and heavier than other vehicles, this often means that accident victims die because their injuries are so severe. Families who are left behind after a commercial truck takes the life of their loved one deserve answers about what happened—and they deserve compensation for their loss. This is when they need an attorney who can make a case for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Claims in Colorado
In the state of Colorado, a wrongful death claim is a lawsuit that is filed in civil court rather than criminal court, and it claims a person or company is liable for the death of another person. In addition to truck accidents
, there are other cases that can form the basis for wrongful death, including car accidents, slip and fall accidents, and injuries from defective products.
There are statutes in Colorado that specify who may file a wrongful death claim. In the first year after the death, only a surviving spouse can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. During the second year, both the victim’s spouse and children are allowed to file a claim. If the victim of the crash has no spouse or children, their parents are able to file a wrongful death claim.
Who Might Be Liable After a Truck Accident
One of the unique aspects of a truck accident
is that liability can be complex because there are often numerous parties who are involved. Unlike a car accident in which you and the other driver might be liable, in a truck accident, liability can be shared by the following parties:
Compensation You Might Be Awarded in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
- The truck driver. Although they drive for a living, truck drivers are human and subject to errors that can lead to crashes. They may drive carelessly or recklessly, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Truck drivers might be inexperienced, making a judgment call that causes an accident.
- The trucking company. As employers, trucking companies often put pressure on their truck driver employees to get to their destination quickly—even if it is not safe to do so. Sometimes companies hire drivers, then fail to train them properly.
- Those who loaded the truck. It is crucial that commercial vehicles be loaded properly, and there are companies that are responsible for making sure loads are on the truck properly and that they are secure. If a heavy load is not loaded correctly, it can shift in the truck, causing problems for a driver. This can lead to the driver losing control of the vehicle.
- Those who maintain and repair the truck. If routine maintenance or repairs were skipped or done improperly, this could shift liability to those who worked on the truck.
- The manufacturers of the truck and truck components. If an accident investigation determines that the truck or its parts were defective, this could point to those manufactures and they could be held liable for a wrongful death lawsuit.
- In a Colorado wrongful death case, the decision about monetary damages is left to the judge or jury. The specific amount of damages that are assessed will vary, depending on the circumstances of the accident and who the victim is. Family members might seek damages for the following:
- Expenses related to the accident, including any medical treatment, emergency services, and hospital expenses
- Funeral expenses for the victim
- Wages and other compensation the deceased victim would have likely earned in the future
- Benefits that were lost because of the death, such as life insurance
- Loss of love and companionship because of the death
In some situations, the family might be able to get punitive damages. Punitive damages differ from other damages because they are not meant as compensation for economic or noneconomic losses. Instead, they are meant as a punishment to the wrongdoer for particularly bad behavior and to act as a deterrent to keep others from acting in the same way. If a truck driver was driving drunk, for example, they might be subject to punitive damages.
It’s important to make the distinction between a civil case and a criminal case. A wrongful death claim is a civil case, which differs from a criminal case. The victim’s family files a wrongful death case. The state or federal prosecutor must file a criminal case. If the truck driver is subjected to criminal charges, the victim’s family can still file a wrongful death claim.
Why You Need a Lawyer for Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Truck Accident
As mentioned previously, truck accident claims have unique challenges, especially when it comes to determining liability, and an experienced attorney is essential. A skilled attorney can reconstruct what happened to cause the crash, gather the appropriate evidence, and fight the trucking company and others as well as their insurance companies. Without an attorney working with you, you might not get the damages to which you are entitled. Insurance companies always want to pay out as little as possible after an accident, and an attorney will help you get the maximum amount.
Because Colorado has a two-year statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit, an attorney can also ensure your case is filed on time and you do not miss any crucial deadlines.
Speak With a Denver Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Recovering after losing a loved one in an accident can be difficult, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Mark Simon is a compassionate attorney who will go over the details of your case and talk to you about the damages you might be able to recover. He works on a contingency basis, which means you do not have to come up with a large retainer. You will pay no attorney fees unless you ultimately win a financial settlement or verdict at trial.