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What You Need to Know About Wrongful Death Truck Accidents


The sheer traffic and tonnage of trucks on the road, together with pressures from tight schedules and freight companies, make accidents inevitable. And when a truck collides with a car—or anything else—the results are often tragic. During 2020, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were over 4,400 fatal truck accidents. In those accidents, 83% of those who died were not occupants of a truck.

For anyone who loses a loved one in an accident, the shock and grief are overwhelming enough. When that accident involves a truck, it can be doubly difficult to handle the horrific unfairness of the collision. The shipping company—or their insurance carrier—may try to evade responsibility, even as you and your other surviving family members struggle to put your lives back together.

You may have a claim for a wrongful death lawsuit, which would allow you to recover:

  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Medical expenses for the deceased
  • Loss of their potential future earnings
  • Damages for the loss of their society and comfort
  • Punitive damages, if the conduct of the driver or company was especially bad

But how do you begin the process? And what does it involve?

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Wyoming

A wrongful death suit is a civil remedy that allows the close family members of the decedent—the deceased injury victim—to claim damages that they suffered from their loss. They can sue the responsible parties or their estates (if those persons also died in the meantime). In Wyoming, the lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the person’s death.

Under state law, only a wrongful death representative can bring the suit or settle the claim. Any person who wants to serve as a representative can petition the court to appoint them. The representative can be a family member or any other person that the court believes will represent the interests of all the beneficiaries of the suit—the family members and loved ones of the decedent. Part of the representative’s job is to present a list of all possible beneficiaries to the court.

Who can actually recover damages as beneficiaries of the suit? There is no set list of family relationships required for a Wyoming wrongful death claim, as in some other states. What is essential is proof that the family member sustained their damages. When there are multiple family members with claims, this can become complicated. That is why a wrongful death representative needs the assistance of an attorney who can anticipate these difficulties in the settlement process or trial.

How Attorneys Address Fatal Outcomes in Truck Accidents

The FMCSA regulates commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), such as large trucks, that conduct interstate business, and Wyoming law regulates trucks that operate within the state. Truck operators face—and sometimes create—a number of unique pressures that can lead to violations and dangerous driving. Major causes of trucking accidents include:

  • Brake problems. Truck maintenance can become a casualty of economic pressures, despite regulations intended to keep trucks in drivable condition. A defective part can also cause an accident. In that case, survivors may have a claim against the manufacturer.
  • Driver fatigue. Although federal regulations are supposed to ensure a certain level of rest, hard-driving companies and scheduling pressures can still lead to exhaustion and impaired driving among truckers.
  • Traffic congestion. Where conditions are crowded, visibility is poor for an operator in front of a large trailer.
  • Use of medications. Side effects such as drowsiness or dizziness can be deadly for truckers.

A truck accident attorney understands the causes of truck accidents and the likely violations that occurred before and during a collision. They know how to determine when a truck driver’s employer or an auto manufacturer played a part in causing the accident.

When a CMV is involved in an auto accident investigation, it is crucial for a survivor—or their family—to have someone who understands truck accidents on their side. Newer trucks contain a heavy vehicle electronic data recorder (HVEDR) that gathers data from the seconds around the accident. Since an HVEDR may show whether or not the driver’s actions caused the collision, the truck owner may have an incentive to “lose” it when the vehicle is seriously damaged. An experienced truck accident attorney will know how to seek evidence from a truck accident and how to interpret it, or—for more technical data—how to find the right expert in crash reconstruction.

The trucking company, together with its insurance carrier, will work from the very beginning to put accident victims at a disadvantage. An attorney can fight for the interests of a loved one while protecting the family from outside pressures at the worst time of their lives.

According to surveys, claimants who are represented by attorneys are more likely to receive settlements from insurance companies, and they are also likely to receive a more significant award when they do. But in a wrongful death suit, compensation is not all that is at stake. Lawsuits can help hold drivers and companies accountable for tragedies, helping prevent more accidents in the future.

At Platte River Injury Law, we offer a free initial consultation on wrongful death and personal injury cases. If you believe you have a wrongful death claim of any kind in Wyoming, call us at 307-215-9724 to schedule an appointment at our Casper offices. We serve Casper, Cheyenne, Gillette, Rawlins, Riverton, and Sheridan.

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