Truck Accidents and Wrongful Death
Truck accidents are often more severe than other motor vehicle accidents. The sheer size of an average semi-truck means that a collision involving a smaller vehicle can have devastating, even fatal consequences. Accidents involving trucks and fatalities frequently result in wrongful death claims by surviving family members. These types of lawsuits can offer a sense of closure and justice on behalf of the deceased.
Who Is Responsible for a Wrongful Death After a Truck Accident?
While it may seem like the driver is the obvious culprit in a trucking accident, there may actually be several individuals or entities who should be held accountable:
The Trucking Company
The company employing the driver involved in the crash can be found liable for various reasons. If it is determined that they are not properly training drivers or are enforcing unreasonable deadlines, for example, they can be held responsible in an accident.
The individuals or company in charge of routine repairs of the truck can be sued in a wrongful death case if it is found that lack of maintenance was responsible for the accident.
The Cargo Company
It is the responsibility of the loading company to ensure that cargo is properly packed in the truck. If the driver lost control of the vehicle due to shifting or otherwise improperly loaded cargo, then the cargo company can be liable for the accident.
The Vehicle and Parts Manufacturers
Accidents related to a mechanical failure, such as brakes, may be due to faulty manufacturing. In this case, the company who made the faulty part or vehicle can be liable for damages and wrongful death.
What Damages are Awarded in a Wrongful Death Case?
The following damages may be awarded to the claimants in a wrongful death case:
- Medical bills
- Funeral and burial costs
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium*
- Lost wages
- Punitive damages
*Loss of consortium refers to the loss of benefits associated with marriage, such as comfort, companionship, and care.
Wrongful Death Caps in Colorado
Damages in a wrongful death case are divided into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are those that are more easily quantified, such as medical and funeral costs. Non-economic damages are related to emotional damages, like pain and suffering.
Colorado does not cap economic damages. It does cap non-economic damages*, and the limit is increased every two years to adjust for inflation:
For claims occurring before January 1, 2022 there is currently a $571,870 cap on non-economic damages.
For claims occurring after January 1, 2022, the new limit is $642,180.
*There is no cap on non-economic damages if the death was the result of a felony, such as a hit-and-run.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations Colorado
In Colorado, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a wrongful death lawsuit in non-felony cases. If the death was the result of a felony, you have up to four years to file.
Wrongful death can also only be filed by certain individuals within certain time periods:
Within the first year, only the surviving spouse can file a wrongful death claim. He or she may request in writing for surviving children to join the claim.
In the second year following the death, surviving children and other designated beneficiaries may seek wrongful death damages. If they have not already filed suit, surviving spouses may join the claim within 90 days.
If the victim was unmarried or had no children, the parents of the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit within the statute of limitations.
Colorado Wrongful Death Attorney
Losing a loved one due to the negligence of another is a devastating experience. While monetary compensation cannot take the place of your family member, you may find some comfort in knowing that those responsible will be held accountable.
If someone has died as a result of a truck accident, you will need a qualified and compassionate attorney to help you file your wrongful death lawsuit. The Roth Group is here to help. Please call our office or go online to schedule your consultation.