Understanding Wrongful Death Settlements vs. Trials: Pros and Cons for Bereaved Families

Serious and fatal accidents involving commercial trucks occur on a daily basis across the country. Each year, more than 5,000 people will lose their lives in commercial vehicle crashes. More than 80% of these victims are occupants of other vehicles or pedestrians involved in the accident. The force and impact of a semi-truck crash often leads to serious injuries. In many cases, the truck driver and the trucking company can be held liable for negligence in connection with a crash. A thorough investigation helps to determine liability.

For family members who have tragically lost a loved one, there is a legal process available to compensate them for their losses. While there is no amount of money that can bring back or replace a loved one, receiving compensation is an important way to offset unexpected losses and to hold negligent actors accountable for their actions. As part of a wrongful death action, family members must make many important choices about their future. This includes the choice of whether to settle a case or take it to trial. There are several considerations that must be explored in making this difficult decision. Ultimately, family members will want to consult with their attorney in order to help them make the best choice for their future.

If you have tragically lost a family member in a commercial truck crash, our nationwide fatal truck crash lawyers at Burg Simpson can help provide you with guidance and legal support during this difficult time.

Truck Accident Wrongful Death Claims  Understanding Wrongful Death Settlements vs. Trials: Pros and Cons for Bereaved Families

Following a deadly truck crash, family members have certain legal options. One of these options includes the potential right to file a wrongful death action. Wrongful death claims are filed by a deceased victim’s next of kin against those who were responsible for the fatal accident. This includes truck drivers, trucking companies, and other possible defendants.

A wrongful death action seeks a variety of potential damages, including:

  • Lost wages
  • Reimbursement of funeral and medical bills
  • Loss of affection and companionship
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Punitive damages in some cases

Wrongful death actions, like all other legal claims, have a statute of limitations. This means that the claim must be filed within a certain specified time or victims will lose the right to do so. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death action may be shorter than for general personal injury claims. It is therefore important to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible to determine your legal rights.

Trial vs. Settlement: Considerations for Wrongful Death Claims

A wrongful death case can be successfully resolved in two potential ways: the case can either be settled prior to trial or it can proceed to trial and be determined by a jury. The choice between settlement or trial is determined by several factors including:

  • Legal strength of the case: Each case has its own unique set of facts. Depending on these facts and the laws of the particular jurisdiction, the decision can weigh more heavily in favor of settlement or trial. For instance, a case with questionable liability would be a better candidate for settlement than a case where liability is clear
  • Available compensation: The compensation available in a wrongful death case can play a role in deciding whether to settle or go to trial. While most trucking companies carry insurance policies with well more than a million dollars in liability coverage, some smaller trucking companies or individual truckers may have far less available coverage. Thus, even if a large verdict is awarded, the victim will have a difficult time collecting their judgment.
  • Multiple defendants: Cases involving multiple defendants can affect the decision on whether to try a case or settle it. In a multiple-defendant situation, it is sometimes advantageous to proceed to a trial. This is because one defendant may attempt to blame the other for the crash. This places the plaintiff in a strong position relative to the other parties in the case.
  • Emotional considerations: One of the most difficult parts of a wrongful death case for all victims is the emotional component. There is nothing more tragic than the sudden loss of a family member in a wrongful death accident. The litigation process often adds layers to the stress level, forcing victims to relive the emotions of losing their loved one. Taking a case to trial involves strong emotional evidence. Photographs of the victims and testimony about their memory must be elicited. Some family members understandably do not wish to put themselves through this experience. In these cases, settlement is a preferred option.
  • Potential jurors: Finally, the potential jury pool must be considered when deciding whether to try a wrongful death claim. Depending on the area where your case is filed, some juries are more likely to award a large verdict or judgment than other juries. This depends on the general jurisdiction where your case is filed and the laws that govern your situation.

Contact a National Truck Accident Lawyer

Wrongful death claims are complex and difficult in a number of ways. Not only legally, but also from a human and emotional standpoint. The decisions that must be made in these tough cases must always be made with the family members and loved ones in mind. Determining the best path is not just a legal decision, but also an empathetic and compassionate decision. Ultimately, victims and family members must make the best choice for themselves and their future.

Here at Burg Simpson, we have a team of caring and dedicated national truck accident attorneys waiting to help you. Our firm has successfully represented those who have lost a loved one in a tragic commercial vehicle crash. Overall, we have recovered more than $2 billion in settlements and judgments on behalf of our clients.

Whether your case is handled by a trial or resolved by a settlement, we are here for you. Our firm offers free consultations and case evaluations for all potential and prospective clients. To schedule your appointment with one of our attorneys, please reach out to us using our online intake form or give us a call at (866) 695-2010.

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