Fatal Truck Accident Lawyer in Raleigh, North Carolina
Accidents involving semis and other large trucks took the lives of 160 people in North Carolina in a recent year. Most of those who died were occupants of passenger cars and pickup trucks. Deaths in fatal truck accidents represented 12 percent of the year’s total traffic fatalities in North Carolina.
If you have lost someone in a fatal truck accident, North Carolina law allows the immediate family members or a personal representative of the deceased’s estate to pursue a wrongful death claim if the truck driver or trucking company caused the accident. A wrongful death claim may help surviving family members pay for funeral and burial costs, replace lost income and obtain additional compensation for the loss of their loved one. However,
At Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., our attorneys have compassion for a family dealing with the unexpected loss of a loved one. We understand the pain, financial stress and uncertain future a wrongful death can cause, especially the loss of a family’s breadwinner. A fatal semi-truck accident lawyer can provide hands-on attention and help you hold a negligent truck driver, a motor carrier and/or other parties accountable for the harm they have caused. Our goal is to help you regain financial stability and move forward.
Many of our clients are referred to us by former clients who appreciated the attentive service we provided. Our legal team includes staff members who speak Spanish as well as English. If you are dealing with the devastating loss of a loved one in a fatal truck accident, trust our experienced attorneys at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. We’ll handle the legal details so that you may focus on your family and putting your life back together.
Who Can File a Lawsuit After a Fatal Truck Accident in North Carolina?
Under North Carolina law, the administrator of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death claim after a fatal semi-truck accident. The administrator is appointed by the court and can be the surviving spouse of a deceased person or another family member.
Under the law, the person or company responsible for the deceased’s death may be sued just as they could have been if the deceased person had survived and filed a personal injury lawsuit. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to compensate the family and/or the deceased person’s estate for their losses. A claim may seek compensation for:
- Medical costs of care, treatment and hospitalization after the fatal truck accident
- Pain and suffering of the deceased
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Monetary value of the loss of income, household support and services, companionship, guidance, and contribution to the family.
If the wrongful death case proceeds to trial, a jury would determine the economic losses and the appropriate amount of compensation to award the family of the deceased. In certain cases, a wrongful death claim might also seek punitive damages if the death was caused by willful or wanton conduct.
Common Causes of Fatal Semi-Truck Accidents
The size and weight of a large commercial truck – 20 to 30 times more than passenger vehicles – increases the risk of fatalities in a collision, as well as severe property damage and injuries. In a crash between a light vehicle and a heavier one, the laws of physics favor the large truck. The occupants of the lighter vehicle are considerably more likely to be fatally injured than the occupants of the heavier vehicle.
Speed adds exponentially to the force of impact in a collision. Higher driving speeds increase braking distance and reduce the amount of time a truck driver has to recognize an accident situation and take action to avoid it. The possibility of avoiding a collision by braking or swerving becomes less likely as speed increases.
A truck may collide with another vehicle due to:
- Speeding. Inappropriate speed is generally believed to be a contributing factor in about one third of fatal motor vehicle crashes. This includes driving too fast for road conditions, such as in rain and icy conditions, fog or smoke, in low visibility at dusk or dawn, or in heavy traffic.
- Brake failure. In the trucking industry’s landmark Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS), brake problems, including failed brakes and brakes out of adjustment, were cited in almost 30 percent of truck accidents. Brakes may fail because of inadequate maintenance, imbalance or overheating, each of which can be avoided by following federal regulations that require proper maintenance and routine inspection of brakes.
- Overloaded cargo. Overloading a truck can add enough weight to cause excessive braking distances and overtax brake systems. An overloaded truck can make the truck harder to handle and impossible to slow or stop in the distance required.
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the task of driving. A truck driver may be distracted by using a cell phone, eating or drinking, or looking at a map or navigation device. A moment’s distraction may make it too late for the driver to stop or swerve to avoid a crash.
- Fatigued driving. Driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of crashes among long-haul truck drivers. Drowsy drivers take longer to recognize and react to sudden changes in traffic or other unexpected circumstances, which can lead to a collision. Sometimes trucking companies set unreasonable delivery deadlines and pressure drivers to disregard the federal Hours-of-Service rules that limit the number of hours a commercial driver may drive without a rest break.
Another common cause of fatal truck accidents is related to the height of large commercial trucks. Because tractor-trailers have higher ground clearance, a car may slide under the side or rear of a large truck, crushing the passenger compartment and killing vehicle occupants. Most large trucks are now equipped with underride guards on the back of the trailer to prevent underride accidents. But truck underride guards often fail in crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Any time a large truck crashes, any person or vehicle in the vicinity of the out-of-control truck cab and trailer is in danger. In a rear-end accident, rollover accident or a jackknife accident, in which a truck’s trailer swings out of control toward the cab, a fatality can easily occur in a smaller vehicle at the wrong place at the wrong time.
How a Fatal Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
Our experienced Raleigh fatal truck crash attorneys at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. can guide you through the process of pursuing compensation on behalf of your family and lost loved one.
We will conduct a detailed investigation to identify all parties at fault for the accident. In most cases, this will include the truck driver and his or her employer. The trucking company or motor carrier that owns the truck and employs the driver is legally responsible in a crash. In other cases, there may be other parties at fault, such as maintenance providers, cargo loaders, or truck component manufacturers whose negligent work contributed to an accident.
We may be able to pursue multiple claims on behalf of the deceased, which could increase the amount of insurance compensation available. But having the potential for multiple parties at fault enables them to point fingers at each other to try to shift the blame. For example, some motor carriers will falsely claim their drivers are independent contractors and not employees, and therefore the trucking company is not responsible for their negligent actions.
Our attorneys will identify all liable parties and calculate the full extent of your present and future losses from the semi-truck accident. Once we have developed solid evidence of fault and a full understanding of our client’s losses, we will submit a claim to the insurance company. We will seek to negotiate a settlement that recognizes the extent of your losses. Most cases can be settled without going to court. But our attorneys will be prepared to pursue a formal lawsuit on behalf of you and your loved one’s estate.
Speak to a Raleigh Fatal Truck Accident Attorney
The truck accident attorneys at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., understand the devastation of losing a family member unexpectedly, especially when the death was caused by someone else’s negligence or disregard for safety. That is why we put compassion, listening, and care first when we work with clients on wrongful death truck accident cases. We take the time to understand how your family members’ lives have changed, and we bring our legal knowledge and courtroom experience to bear as we fight for your family.
To learn more about engaging a dedicated attorney who cares about your financial recovery and your future, contact Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., in Raleigh. You can call us at (919) 661-9000 or fill out our online contact form. The initial consultation with one of our attorneys is free and confidential.