My Loved One Was Killed in a Semi-Truck Accident: Do I Have a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

If you have lost a loved one in a semi-truck accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of a truck driver or trucking company, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation and closure. Here, we want to discuss how Tennessee’s wrongful death statutes could apply for accidents involving commercial trucks on our roadways.

Can You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Crash With a Commercial Truck?

In the aftermath of a semi-truck crash in Tennessee that leads to death, there will be an extensive investigation by various parties involved. This will include an initial investigation conducted by law enforcement officials, as well as an investigation by insurance carriers and trucking companies. Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will know certainly be notified of the incident.

In the event it is discovered that the semi-truck crash was caused by the careless or negligent actions of the driver or trucking company, the family members of the victims may choose to proceed with a wrongful death lawsuit. Some of the ways in which an incident may ultimately be caused by a driver or company include:

  • A driver operating while impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • A driver operating while distracted by a phone or another device
  • Failing to follow traffic laws
  • Allowing the truck to be overloaded or improperly loaded
  • A trucking company failing to inspect or maintain the vehicles
  • The driver or company failing to follow the federal hours of service requirements

The wrongful death statute in Tennessee says that a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed if a person dies from “injuries received from another” or due to the “wrongful act, omission, or killing by another” (Tenn. Code § 20-5-106 (2021).

Who Can File the Wrongful Death Claim?

In the state of Tennessee, only certain family members are allowed to file a wrongful death claim. The initial right to file these claims falls to the deceased’s surviving spouse. In the event there is no surviving spouse, the following parties are allowed to file the claim (in this order):

  • Surviving children
  • Surviving next of kin
  • The personal representative of the estate
  • Surviving parents, if the deceased was dependent on them at the time of death

Compensation Available for a Successful Case

There may be various types of compensation available to family members if the wrongful death was caused by the negligent actions of a truck driver or trucking company. In Tennessee, damages available and a wrongful death claim can include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses arising after the incident and before the death
  • Lost wages, including all benefits the deceased would likely have earned, had they lived
  • Physical and mental suffering experienced by the deceased after the incident but before their death
  • Loss of the survivors’ care, guidance, society, and companionship they would have received from the deceased
  • Mental anguish and suffering of the survivors

Time Limit to File a Wrongful Death ClaimTime Limit to File a Wrongful Death Claim

If a wrongful death occurs as a result of a semi-truck accident in Tennessee, it is crucial for family members or the estate of the deceased to file these claims as soon as possible. In Tennessee, the wrongful death statute of limitations is one year after the date of death. If a case is not filed within this timeframe, surviving family members will likely lose the ability to recover compensation for their losses. Consult with a Nashville wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible for legal advice when filing a wrongful death claim.