Recovering For Fatal Truck Accidents In West Virginia
Wrongful death lawsuits can help those that have lost a loved one because of negligence get on with their lives.
Large 18-wheelers are vital to our nation’s commerce. Nowhere is this truer than in West Virginia, where trucks play an integral part in the logging and coal mining industries. However, the large number of trucks on West Virginia roadways has a drawback: a greater possibility of truck accidents.
Recently, the danger that trucks can pose to motorists received national media attention. Saturday Night Live comedian Tracy Morgan and other comedians were recently involved in a truck accident. Upon investigation, the cause of the accident was determined to be truck driver fatigue. Under questioning by the police, the truck driver admitted that he had not rested in over 24 hours, which is an egregious violation of federal hours of service regulations. Because of the truck driver’s failure to get sufficient rest, Morgan was left seriously injured and a fellow passenger lost his life.
Everyday across the nation, ordinary people are involved in truck accidents. When this type of accident occurs, there is a greater risk of serious injuries or fatalities, due to the large size and weight difference between a truck and a passenger vehicle. Unfortunately, as in the Morgan case, these accidents can occur because of negligence such as driver fatigue, maintenance lapses, improper loading and violations of safety regulations.
If someone is killed because of a truck accident, his or her family can be left with unexpected financial losses (e.g. loss of income). Fortunately, if the accident was caused by negligence, West Virginia law allows certain family members to recoup their losses in a wrongful death lawsuit.
A wrongful death occurs when someone is killed as a result of someone else’s negligence, default or wrongful act. Fatal truck accidents caused by driver fatigue are just one example of when a wrongful death occurs. It can also occur in other fatal motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, workplace accidents and other instances where negligence is involved.
Under West Virginia law, this type of lawsuit is filed by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate on behalf of those eligible to recover. Under the law, the persons that are potentially eligible to recover are: the surviving spouse, and children, including adopted children and stepchildren, brothers, sisters, parents, and any persons who were financially dependent upon the decedent at the time of his death.
Under the law, eligible parties may recover a broad variety of damages including:
• Medical and funeral expenses
• Loss of decedent’s future income
• Loss of companionship and emotional support
• Sorrow and mental anguish
• Punitive damages (if the death was caused by willful, reckless or intentional conduct)
An attorney can help
Unfortunately, truckers and trucking companies operate in an environment where time is money. As a result, they are under constant pressure to maximize profits by increasing efficiency, and are thus tempted to minimize rest breaks and skirt safety regulations.
If a loved one has been killed in a truck accident, any wrongdoing or negligence may only come to light after an investigation. An experienced personal injury attorney can work with accident reconstructionists to determine the cause of the accident and hold the responsible parties accountable.