Earlier this month (January 2018), there was an accident involving a sanitation truck and utility van. The North Carolina truck accident resulted in the death of a 45-year-old man. The driver of the van was helicoptered to a hospital. The sanitation truck driver was taken to the Outer Banks Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He was charged with misdemeanor death by a motor vehicle.
Criminal proceedings brought against a truck driver believed to be at fault for an accident that causes death to another driver are entirely separate from a civil lawsuit that may be brought in connection with the same accident. The criminal case must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, which is an extremely high standard. Additionally, the criminal case is brought by the prosecutor on behalf of the state. Financial restitution is not always awarded even if the prosecution proves its case.
After losing a family member in a truck accident, surviving family members may face huge changes to their lives, and their only recourse to address their financial and emotional losses may be a civil wrongful death action. While no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one, there are practical considerations, such as the loss of contribution of income by the decedent and the difficulties of losing someone who did a significant portion of the work around a household.
In North Carolina, you may have a wrongful death claim if a loved one’s death is caused by another party’s fault, neglect, or wrongful act, such that if the decedent had lived, he or she would’ve had the right to sue for injuries. The goal of the law is to put the legal beneficiaries of the decedent in the same position financially in which they would’ve been had the victim not died. Wrongful death lawsuits can allow for some measure of financial security after the loss of a loved one, and in some cases, they change standards or policies so that the same type of accident doesn’t occur or is less likely to occur.
To establish negligence in connection with a wrongful death action, you will need to prove: (1) duty, (2) breach of duty, (3) causation, and (4) damages. A truck driver can breach the duty to use reasonable care in many ways, including by speeding, distracted driving, driving while intoxicated, weaving, tailgating, or failing to follow the laws and regulations covering his behavior as a truck driver. For example, an interstate truck driver is supposed to follow the FMCSA regulations and restrict his hours of service accordingly. He is also supposed to keep a log book of his hours. Some truck drivers fail to obey the hours of service and work longer hours, and then they falsify their logbooks. This is likely to be considered negligence by a jury. The truck driver’s employer may also bear some responsibility in this hypothetical.
Wrongful death claims also need to follow the requirements expressed in North Carolina General Statute §28A-18-2. For example, you’ll need to show that there are legal beneficiaries entitled to share in a recovery. Damages you may be able to recover include expenses for medical care, pain and suffering, reasonable funeral expenses, loss of services of the decedent, loss of society and companionship, and more.
If you lost a loved one due to the wrongful conduct or negligence of another party, the experienced Charlotte truck accident attorneys at Maurer Law may be able to help you recover compensation. We represent clients in the Charlotte, NC metro area and also Greensboro, NC and Winston-Salem, NC. Contact us at 888-258-1087 or via our online form.
More Blog Posts You Might Be Interested In: