South Carolina Wrongful Death Lawyer Helps Protect Your Legal Rights After a Truck Accident

Commercial trucks can be up to 20 times heavier than regular cars, so traffic accidents involving semi-trucks and big rigs are frequently more devastating—and even lethal. Families who have lost loved ones from fatal truck accidents may be overcome with grief and not know what to do next. 

The wrongful death attorneys at Pracht Injury Lawyers have years of experience guiding individuals just like you, protecting their legal rights to fair compensation and seeking justice for their loved ones after a wrongful death truck accident. We provide compassionate, detailed attention to explain your options, support your needs, and offer skilled advice during this difficult time. 

Common Causes of Truck Accident Deaths

Many of the reasons for South Carolina highway crashes also apply to collisions involving large commercial vehicles. However, due to their size and distinct features, several causes are unique to truck accident deaths. Factors that often contribute to fatal truck crashes include:

  • Drowsy driving due to overworked operators under tight schedules 
  • Operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Negligent, careless, or dangerous trucker behavior
  • Distracted driving, like texting behind the wheel
  • Failure to check blind spots effectively
  • Excessive speed or dangerous lane changes
  • Lack of efficient training or adequate experience
  • Improperly loaded or secured cargo
  • Inadequate safety measures, like those causing underride truck accidents
  • Lack of proper truck maintenance and repairs, like faulty brakes

The circumstances and laws governing commercial trucks in South Carolina mean that it might not be only the driver who’s held liable for damages. Other parties may be named as defendants in commercial truck crash lawsuits. Examples include truck owners, fleet companies, maintenance crews, and more. The legal team at Pracht Injury Lawyers carefully reviews your claim and helps identify all potentially liable parties for a wrongful death case. 

What to Do if a Loved One Dies in a South Carolina Truck Crash

Understandably, families may have a lot of questions about semi-truck accidents if a loved one dies in a crash, as this terrible experience isn’t something many people have to endure in their lifetimes. While some post-accident steps are similar to a regular car crash, there’s an added layer of complexity involving commercial trucks. 

If You’re Still at the Scene of the Accident

In an emergency, keeping a cool head is challenging. The most important thing is to get the proper authorities to the scene as quickly as possible.

  1. Call the police. They help control the scene and complete an accident report.
  2. Call an ambulance. They provide emergency medical care to any victims who need it.
  3. Collect contact information. Get the contacts for the reporting officer, the truck driver, and any eyewitnesses at the scene.
  4. Take notes and gather evidence. Write down the weather, traffic conditions, and other details about the truck crash. Take photos and videos as evidence. 

As Soon as Possible After the Truck Accident 

It’s never easy dealing with the untimely passing of a loved one. In the case of a fatal truck accident, it’s important to consult with an experienced wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. South Carolina law defines wrongful death as a fatality “caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another.” It goes on to state that if the victim had not died, the act “entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages.”

In other words, had your loved one lived, they may have been eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. In our state, the personal representative of the decedent has the legal right to file a wrongful death claim. 

However, it’s important to note that not all fatal truck accidents qualify for wrongful death claims. A knowledgeable member of our legal team will assess your case and provide an opinion on how you might best proceed. 

The statute of limitations on filing a wrongful death case in South Carolina is typically three years. This includes negligence-based incidents, like a collision with a commercial truck. It’s important to act quickly to preserve evidence and allow time to build the strongest case possible against liable parties. 

The Importance of Pursuing a Wrongful Death Case

Losing a beloved family member in a tragic truck accident causes not only emotional pain but also significant financial hardship. No amount of money can ever make up for your loved one’s passing, but families deserve fair compensation for economic and non-economic damages—this is especially true in cases where the victim was the sole breadwinner in the family. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit holds at-fault parties accountable for their actions. It can also alleviate some of the financial burden endured by survivors. 

Possible Recoverable Damages in Settlement

Damages families may seek to recover in a wrongful death settlement aren’t just to pay for immediate expenses. Your attorney must also factor in the long-term impact that ripples through the grieving family as a result of their loved one’s tragic passing. Depending on circumstances, this can approach $1 million in settlement or more. 

Damages that families may seek to recover in a wrongful death lawsuit may include:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Projected future income
  • Lost benefits, like health insurance coverage
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • Loss of care, experience, knowledge, and other intangibles 
  • Loss of non-income-earning contributions to the household 
  • Added cost of childcare and elder care
  • Funeral and burial costs

Work with the team at Pracht Injury Lawyers to accurately calculate the total wrongful death damages your family may be eligible to seek in your claim. 

Pursuing Punitive Damages

If the truck accident was caused by behavior that was deliberate, reckless, or grossly negligent, a judge or jury may add punitive damages to your wrongful death claim. Also called exemplary damages, these are meant to punish at-fault parties and deter others who may engage in similar behavior.

South Carolina Code of Laws Section 15-32-530 sets limits to punitive damages in most cases. It can be the greater of either three times the actual damages or up to $500,000. If actual damages are $150,000, then exemplary damages can be up to $500,000. If actual damages are $250,000, then punitive damages can be up to $750,000. 

Why Hire a Truck Accident Wrongful Death Lawyer

When your family is considering a wrongful death claim against a commercial trucker, it’s important to seek sound and timely legal advice. Christopher Pracht and our experienced South Carolina wrongful death lawyers will counsel you every step of the way:

  • Assess your case and explain possible options
  • Tabulate total damages to recover
  • Identify potentially liable parties
  • Investigate the case and collect evidence to help prove negligence
  • Call in expert witnesses to support your claim
  • Communicate and negotiate with insurance companies
  • Represent your family in civil court
  • Negotiate for a fair settlement
  • Appeal the court’s decision if necessary