While all traffic accidents are dangerous, the fact of the matter is that truck accidents are unique for a number of reasons. In addition to a truck’s massive size and weight, all trucks need additional time to safely stop without colliding with any other vehicles. When a truck driver does not have enough time to safely brake or fails to notice another vehicle while trying to switch lanes, it is the other driver, passenger, or rider who will likely bear the brunt of the injuries.
If a driver or motorcyclist survives a truck accident, he or she is very lucky. However, many are not fortunate enough to survive the injuries sustained in a truck accident, and the financial burdens of these types of cases often hit families at a time when they should be most focused on themselves, and on the healing process. The Tulsa truck accident attorneys at Biby Law Firm discuss wrongful death claims stemming from truck accidents in today’s blog.
What types of truck accidents can lead to a fatality?
One type of serious truck accident is a jackknife accident, which can occur when a truck driver brakes too quickly or brakes too hard. In a jackknife accident, the big rig forms itself into a 90-degree angle with the trailer, creating the potential to strike other vehicles in its wake. The force of this strike can crush other vehicles or knock them into different lanes of traffic.
Another type of deadly trucking accident is a rollover accident. This type of accident occurs when the truck slides and turns over on one side. When a truck roll over, drivers are not the only parties that can become seriously injured. The truck and any cargo attached to the truck have the potential to crush or strike other motorists and often will create obstructions on the roadway for fellow travelers.
Underride accidents are dangerous and deadly. This type of trucking accident happens when a motor vehicle collides with a truck and slides underneath it. It is one of the most dangerous truck accidents because as the vehicle is sliding underneath the truck, the top of the car is usually forcibly ripped off. Underride accidents can either happen from the side or from the rear of a truck, and they are almost always fatal. In recent years some trucks have installed special equipment to prevent, or greatly decrease, the likelihood of underride accidents and injuries occurring. Both the House and the Senate contemplated legislation in 2019 to require the installation of rear, side, and front underride guards on tractor-trailers meeting certain specifications.
Non-fatal injuries caused by trucking accidents
While not all truck accidents are deadly, victims often sustain life-altering, catastrophic injuries. Even if drivers or passengers are fortunate to survive a truck accident, they may leave with serious injuries such as:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Crush injuries leading to amputations
- Permanent nerve damage
- Multiple broken bones
Depending on the nature of the accident, drivers or passengers can also experience internal bleeding and/or damage to multiple organs in their body, from kidneys and spleens to the bladder and liver.
What is a wrongful death claim?
When an individual dies due to the negligence of another person or entity, the surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim. The claim has to be filed by a representative on behalf of the survivors – usually the executor of the estate, or a person who has been appointed as an administrator by the court. If there is no executor or administrator, a spouse or a child can make the claim for damages on behalf of the immediate family.
Regardless of who can legally bring the claim, it is critically important that you work with a Tulsa wrongful death attorney, and preferably one who has experience with truck accident claims. The laws may seem simple but they are not, and truck accident cases are among the most complex. There are often multiple liable parties, and you must be sure to establish liability in order to be successful. We can help you with this.
What damages are available for a wrongful death claim in Tulsa?
Typically, surviving family members can make a claim for economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages can include:
- The victim’s funeral and medical expenses associated with their death
- The loss of the victim’s benefits
- The loss of the victim’s expected earnings
- The value of the goods and services that the victim would have provided
The next type of damages is non-economic damages. These are the types of damages that are intangible, such as:
- Mental pain or anguish
- The loss of love and companionship from the deceased (called “loss of consortium)
- The loss of care, protection, guidance, and nurturing from the deceased
In some cases, surviving family members of the truck accident victim may be entitled to exemplary, or punitive, damages. Punitive damages are the damages that are used to punish the defendant for bad and negligent conduct.
What is the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim in Oklahoma?
Generally, you have two years to file a wrongful death claim, but this is not always the case. In some circumstances, you may have less time. It is important to seek legal counsel as quickly as possible, so that you are not time barred from making a claim.
If you were injured in a truck accident, or if your loved one was killed in a truck accident, Biby Law Firm is here to help. We will make sure that you or your loved ones get answers about why they were injured or killed by a trucking collision. Call our experienced Tulsa truck accident attorneys at 918-574-8458 or submit your information through our contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Jacob Biby has spent his legal career helping folks just like you get the resources they need after an injury. He completed his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State University and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 2008. Jacob is licensed to practice in all Oklahoma state and federal courts, and has limited his career to representing individuals and families who were injured by the negligence of other people or corporations. Learn more about Jacob Biby.