Pursuing Legal Action in an Ohio Fatal Truck Accident
It’s heartbreaking that accidents involving commercial trucks on Ohio’s roads and interstates often take the lives of those drivers and passengers unlucky enough to be struck by a larger and heavier commercial vehicle. There were 105 collisions in Ohio in 2014 that resulted in a death, and here at Kisling, Nestico & Redick, we think that’s far too many lives lost.
Fatal Truck Accidents
When a person is killed in a collision with a semi-truck in which the truck driver is found to be at fault, surviving family members may have a right to compensation for the loss of their loved one. Under Ohio law, when a person is killed because of the negligence of a trucking operator or its truck driver, the victim’s estate may file a lawsuit against the liable party under Ohio’s wrongful death statutes.
While a lawsuit won’t restore your loved one to your life, the compensation you receive can help you recover from the financial losses you’ve experienced because of the death of your family member.
Through an Ohio wrongful death lawsuit, you may be able to recover compensation for:
- Funeral, burial, or cremation expenses
- The loss of your loved one’s earning capacity
- Loss of your loved one’s services
- Loss of your loved one’s companionship and society
- Loss of prospective inheritance you might one day have received from your loved one
- Mental anguish
If you have lost a family member to an accident involving a commercial truck, the attorneys at Kisling, Nestico & Redick offer experienced and compassionate representation throughout the state of Ohio. We’re here to listen to your story, offer an honest evaluation of your legal options, and fight to obtain compensation for your tragic loss.
What Happens When a Truck Collision Leads to a Wrongful Death?
When a big commercial truck is involved in a fatal collision, the commercial trucking company is intimately aware of the risks of a potential lawsuit. This is just one reason why commercial trucking firms are required to have more insurance than drivers of traditional passenger cars. Because of the size and nature of their trucks, any collision with a big rig has the potential to do tremendous amounts of damage to other vehicles, property, and people.
When a fatal truck collision is reported, the trucking company will start working immediately to defend itself against potential claims. Typically, the trucking company’s insurance carrier will immediately contact the victim’s family to persuade them that they do not need an attorney despite the tragic consequences. Insurance professionals are trained to encourage family members to accept a quick settlement that leaves the trucking company free to make the same fatal mistakes over again.
However, trucking companies are only required to retain documents for a relatively short period of time, which means it’s important to act quickly to preserve important evidence such as a truck driver’s log, onboard GPS data, and maintenance records before they are destroyed.
This is an important reason why it’s crucial to talk to a skilled Ohio wrongful death lawyer, such as our attorneys at Kisling, Nestico & Redick, as early in the claims process as is possible. A smart lawyer can work quickly to secure the evidence that supports your claim and protect your rights through the legal process.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Ohio?
A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by the “personal representative” of the person who was killed, and can only be for the benefit of certain surviving family members.
Under Ohio law, those include the decedent’s:
- Surviving spouse
- Other next of kin
Ohio law presumes that the spouse, children, or parents of a person killed in an accident suffered damages because of the wrongful death. If the decedent has no surviving spouse, children, or parents, then a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought on behalf of another next of kin. If the wrongful death suit is successful, the damages awarded in the settlement or wrongful death verdict are split between the beneficiaries of the deceased.
Causes of Fatal Trucking Accidents
All sorts of factors and behaviors can lead to a fatal collision with a commercial 18-wheeler. Drivers who have been insufficiently trained or are exhausted from long hours on the road can make terrible mistakes that lead to another person’s death. Mechanical issues can also come into play when trucks are poorly maintained or repaired, have inadequate safety equipment, or are overloaded with cargo. Road conditions and driver behavior can also lead to deaths on Ohio’s roads and highways when truck drivers operate their trucks in an aggressive manner, violate the speed limits, or fail to adapt to dangerous road conditions.
Common causes of truck accidents often include:
- Driver fatigue
- Drivers’ use of stimulants
- Inadequate training
- Inadequate maintenance
- Failure to check blind spots
- Negligent hiring
- Overloaded trucks or improperly secured cargo that shifts while the truck is in motion
Liability in Fatal Truck Accidents
Wrongful death lawsuits often involve complex legal issues that concern liability and damages. The victim’s family must demonstrate, via their attorneys, that the truck driver or the trucking company—or both—are legally responsible for the victim’s death. Liability may also fall on other parties or multiple parties involved in a truck collision once an investigation has been conducted. For example, if a mechanical item like the brakes failed as a result of manufacturer error, the company that produced the brakes might be held liable.
Once liability is confirmed, other considerations come into play regarding compensation for damages. The financial issues can be significant, as a judge or jury determines the appropriate level of compensation for medical bills, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, emotional grief, and lost future wages.
It is important to remember that Ohio law sets time limits known as statutes of limitations for filing lawsuits, so it’s important to act quickly to protect your rights. Ohio’s civil statute of limitations laws impose a two-year limit for claims involving wrongful death.
Contact an Ohio Truck Accident Lawyer Today For a Free Consultation
Wrongful death cases arising from accidents involving semi-trucks, big rigs, tractor trailers and other commercial vehicles can be complicated in a legal sense, as well as overwhelming for surviving family members who are trying to process their loss. Proving negligence in a collision involving a commercial tractor-trailer requires an investment of time, experience and resources — which is what Kisling, Nestico & Redick brings to each case, no matter the size.
If your family member has been killed in a truck collision, or even you have been injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, the Ohio truck accident lawyers of Kisling, Nestico & Redick have the skill and the drive to pursue the compensation you need and deserve.
Call us at 1-800-HURT-NOW or fill out our online contact form to arrange a free initial consultation with our Ohio truck accident attorneys. We offer no recovery, no fee — you will never be asked to pay an attorney fee unless you obtain compensation for your case.