How Do I File a Truck Accident Lawsuit on Behalf of My Deceased Family Member?
South Carolina has millions of vehicles out on its roads and highways. While motorists are not anticipating an accident, accidents happen often. Truck accidents are common in the state. Due to their size and weight, accidents involving trucks often cause severe damages, injuries and even death. When a family member dies in a collision with a truck, the surviving family members can file a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased family member.
Fatal truck accidents in South Carolina
In 2019, South Carolina had over 900 traffic fatalities. Nearly 20 of those deaths were people killed in large truck accidents. While most drivers of large trucks have licenses and training certification to drive these kinds of vehicles, accidents still happen. Some causes of large truck accidents include:
- Following too closely
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
Wrongful death claims
When a loved one dies in a truck accident, you may want to get compensation for the injuries and death. A wrongful death claim under South Carolina law allows a person looking over your loved one’s estate to file a lawsuit to recover for damages. To bring the suit, you must be the personal representative of your family member’s estate. If your deceased family member has a will, it will usually name the personal representative. If the will does not name a personal representative, you may apply to look over the estate.
The personal representative may file a lawsuit and seek damages from the at-fault truck driver. The wrongful death lawsuit can seek compensation for damages, including:
- Lost wages and future earning potential
- Funeral costs
- Medical bills
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering, mental anguish
If you decide to file a lawsuit on behalf of your deceased family member, you must be aware of the deadline to do so. Under South Carolina law, you have three years for the date of your loved one’s death to file. If you win the lawsuit, any award goes directly to the spouse and children of the deceased. If your loved one was not married and did not have children, the next in line to receive the award.
Truck accidents cause severe injuries. Sometimes these injuries lead to death. Sometimes it may take days, weeks or months for the victim to succumb to their injuries. If your loved one dies from injuries they sustained in a truck accident at a later time, you may file a survival action.
While wrongful death claims compensate the family members of the deceased, compensation from survival actions goes to the probate estate of the accident victim. The court bases the award on the time period between injury and death. To file a lawsuit for survival action, you must be the personal representative of the deceased estate. Your loved one may name you as the personal representative in their will, or if there is no will, you may apply to be the personal representative. In a survival action, you may seek compensation for your deceased family member’s:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Make sure that you file your lawsuit within the time limit or statute of limitations. In South Carolina, you have three years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a survival action.
Filing a lawsuit
To begin the lawsuit, you must file a complaint in the appropriate county. Each county has their own court rules and costs for filing a lawsuit. Next, you must serve the complaint to the at-fault truck driver to let them know that you are suing. The driver must respond to your complaint within the time limit set by South Carolina law. If the driver fails to do so, you may win your lawsuit simply because they did not reply.
The procedural and legal steps of a lawsuit are complex, complicated and time-consuming. Understanding the legal process and the law is essential to correctly file and follow through with your lawsuit for wrongful death or survival action. Therefore, you need to hire an experienced attorney to protect your rights and handle your case.
If your loved one was killed in a fatal truck accident and you need to file a lawsuit on behalf of your deceased family member, contact the knowledgeable South Carolina wrongful death attorneys at the Steinberg Law Firm today at (843) 720-2800.