Home / Blog / Can Truck Drivers’ Families Get Compensation After Fatal Crashes?

Fatal workplace accidents are always tragic and often avoidable. When truck drivers are injured or killed in crashes, their crashes can often be the fault of someone other than your loved one, such as the trucking company or a third party.

Sometimes trucking companies contribute to fatal crashes by overworking employees, poorly maintaining the trucks in their fleet, and choosing routes dangerous for heavy commercial trucks to use.

Other times, other people and parties do things that cause trucks to crash, including improperly loading the truck’s cargo and unbalancing the truck, poorly maintaining the roads that trucks use, and driving distracted or recklessly around trucks without taking into consideration their blind spots or increased stopping distance.

You have two years from the date of the crash to file a wrongful death claim in Indiana if your loved one was killed while working as a commercial truck driver. Find out if your family is entitled to financial compensation following the loss of your loved one by contacting an Indianapolis wrongful death lawyer.

Determining Fault:

Indiana law uses comparative fault when deciding civil cases, which means judges and juries decide how much each person involved contributed to the crash. Any person found to be at least 51% responsible is ineligible to receive compensation, regardless of the award amount.

Everyone else involved (or their families, in the case of fatal crashes) is eligible to receive a portion of the award equal to the percentage of the accident for which they were NOT responsible. For example, if Driver A is 60% responsible and Driver B is 40% responsible, Driver A is ineligible for compensation and Driver B is eligible for 60% of their losses.

Employment Classification

How the company classified your family member determines whether or not you can sue after a fatal accident. If your loved one worked as an employee of the trucking company, their employer may be held liable for negligent actions that contributed to their death.

Alternatively, if your family member worked as an independent contractor or was misclassified as one, you may need to work with a lawyer to explore your legal options.

Independent contractor:

These non-permanent employees can usually choose their hours and routes as long as they meet customer deadlines. They don’t receive benefits like retirement savings or health insurance.

If the trucking company controls the driver’s hours, route, load assignments, mileage rates, or tracks the truck with GPS, you can argue that your loved one should have been classified as an employee. If it is clear that your loved one only did contracted work, you may also consider bringing a case against a third party involved in the fatal accident.

Employee:

Employees lack the flexibility of independent contractors; however, they receive benefits, such as health insurance and overtime pay. The family of a truck driver who was killed on the job due to their employer’s negligence may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Negligent Acts

The trucking company can be held liable if you can prove that they didn’t perform the truck’s necessary maintenance on schedule. Common maintenance issues that can lead to accidents include brake failure, steering failure, and trailer problems. An Indiana truck crash lawyer at our law firm can get the maintenance records to prove these claims.

They may also be liable if they pressured your loved one to violate federal laws around how long an employee is allowed to drive in one stretch or forced them to work too many shifts in a row without taking their legally mandated break. Many trucking companies do this to increase their profits without regards to their drivers’ safety.

Third parties might be liable for fatal accidents if their negligent actions contributed to the crash. Poor road conditions or blind corners can cause the government agency responsible for the road to be accountable.

Improper loading or overloading of a truck can disrupt the balance of a truck and make it more likely to overturn. If this happens, the people who loaded the truck—if they are separate from the trucking company—can also be named in a wrongful death claim.

Distracted, drunk, or reckless drivers of other vehicles can also lead to fatal crashes, making them responsible for the death of a truck driver.

Settlement Amount

Indiana’s adult wrongful death statute provides compensation for medical, hospital, funeral, and burial expenses, as well as loss of love and companionship. However, the law caps the amount you can receive for loss of love and companionship at $300,000.

There are some other types of damages you may collect, including loss of love, care, and affection, loss of parental guidance of children, and loss of services. These all refer to the loss of your loved one’s presence in your family and how it affects a surviving spouse and children.

Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer

Wrongful death lawsuits require proof of negligence or intent to harm, and hiring an Indiana work death lawyer can help you find and present that proof if your loved one was killed in a crash while working as a commercial truck driver. Your attorney can investigate the claim and negotiate with the trucking company or insurance company for a fair settlement for the depth of your loss. If they can’t reach a settlement, your lawyer can take the case to trial.

Your Wagner Reese wrongful death attorney will guide you through the process and prepare you to testify at trial, if necessary. While representing your family, they will present evidence, question witnesses, and advocate for you while expressing how the loss of your loved one has impacted your life.

Get a Free Evaluation of Your Case

Wagner Reese has more than 25 years of experience representing victims of negligence. Our wrongful death lawyers will fight aggressively to get your family the compensation you are owed. Our attorneys have experience negotiating with the insurance company and trying cases before a judge or a jury.

To find out if you are entitled to compensation after your loved one’s commercial truck crash, contact Wagner Reese today for a free evaluation of your case.