Using Vicarious Liability to Hold the Negligent Driver’s Trucking Company Responsible in Your Wrongful Death Action
One of the most heartbreaking and emotionally traumatic experiences a person has to go through is the death of a close family member, such as a spouse, child, parent, or sibling. In addition, there is also financial stress due to the loss of the person’s income that is relied upon by the whole family. The grief and financial hardships can become unbearable if the loved one’s death was caused by a negligent truck driver in a preventable accident.
However, the victim’s family may be able to bring a wrongful death action to hold the negligent trucker and his trucking company responsible and to obtain compensation to help ease their financial burden.
What Is a Wrongful Death Action?
A wrongful death action is a claim brought by the close family members of someone killed due to another’s negligence that seeks compensation for their loss. In Texas, a surviving spouse, children, and parents are the family members who generally file wrongful death claims after a fatal truck accident. Unlike some states, brothers and sisters cannot bring a wrongful death action.
Compensation that may be recovered in a wrongful death action includes:
- Lost earning capacity. Lost earning capacity damages compensate family members for the support they would have received from their deceased loved one if he had survived the crash and continued to work during his lifetime.
- Lost care and support. This is to compensate the family members for the loss of care, maintenance, services, support, and advice that the victim would have provided to his family members if he had not died.
- Pain and suffering. One of the largest elements of damages in a wrongful death action can be for the pain and emotional anguish suffered.
- Loss of love and companionship. A close family member may be able to obtain compensation for the loss of the victim’s love, companionship, and comfort.
- Loss of inheritance. If family members would have received an inheritance from their loved one if he had lived, they can request compensation for what they would have received as part of their settlement.
- Exemplary damages. These are awarded to punish the trucker and trucking company for their willful acts or omissions or gross negligence.
How Can the Theory of Vicarious Liability Help You Obtain Compensation From the Trucking Company for the Loss of Your Loved One?
Whenever possible, you want to seek compensation from the trucking company as well as the negligent trucker, because the company’s liability insurance coverage will be substantially more than his individual policy. This is especially important when the victim is killed in the crash, when the claim’s value is typically larger. In some cases, you may have a separate claim against the trucking company for violation of federal regulations governing the company’s operations, for negligent training of the truck driver, or for negligent hiring or retention of the driver.
In other cases, you will not have these claims. However, you may still be able to hold the trucking company liable under the theory of vicarious liability. To establish the trucking company’s liability, you will need to show a business connection between the truck involved in the accident and the trucking company or that the company hired or contracted with the trucker. In addition, the truck driver must have been performing a business duty—such as driving the load to its destination or returning after delivering it—at the time of the crash.
If a family member was killed in a truck accident, you want to hold the truck driver, trucking company and any other liable parties responsible for compensating you. You need the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney to do this. Fill out our online form today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.