South Dakota motorist killed by a semi-truck driver. What legal options does the family have?

South Dakota motorist killed by a semi-truck driver. What legal options does the family have?

When large commercial vehicles such as trucks collide with smaller vehicles, the results are often devastating due to the size and weight of the bigger truck. The aftermath usually includes serious, permanent injuries or death.

An accident in South Dakota involved a semi-truck and an ATV on Highway 47 near the city of Gregory.

Truck crashes into ATV and kills driver

The South Dakota Highway Patrol believes the incident began when the 81 year old ATV driver was travelling northbound on Highway 47. He began to slow down as he approached the 265th Street intersection. In the next moments, the semi-truck merged into the passing lane while travelling in the same direction, while the ATV driver also attempted to enter the same lane to make a left turn. The two vehicles collided as they both approached the lane simultaneously.

The 30 year old male driving the much larger semi truck was wearing a seatbelt at the time and was not injured. The ATV driver, however, was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle due to the force of the crash. He died at the scene from his injuries. The South Dakota Highway Patrol was investigating the crash further and did not have any additional information.

What to do after an accident with a large truck

After any kind of accident involving a commercial truck, it is recommended that the victim and their family contact an attorney.There is evidence specific to these collisions that needs to be preserved and a lawyer is best suited to assist the victim and the victim’s family to gather and protect evidence. Even if the victim has died, the civil law does provide remedies that will help them collect money related to medical and funeral expenses. In non-fatal accidents, it is still possible for the truck driver and their employer to be forced to pay for things like hospitalization, lost wages, and other losses that were caused by the accident. The trucking company, rather than the individual driver, will normally be the target of the lawsuit as they are liable for the actions of their workers performed during normal job duties.

A negligence lawsuit

Lawsuits that are brought in trucking collision cases are typically based in a negligence claim.  . Negligence simply means that a driver breached their duty of care on the roads and caused harm to others. These harms are called damages, which is the element meant to quantify losses into a monetary amount. The plaintiff’s lawyer will ask for this amount in the initial complaint that begins a lawsuit. Damages are important because they can add up to thousands or even millions of dollars after very serious accidents where someone dies or can no longer function normally.

The value of civil lawsuits

In a case like the news story above, if the defendant is found to be negligent, the trucking company will have to pay for all of the services and wages that the victim’s family could have expected to receive in the future. The age of the victim is important, because someone’s lost wages projected for decades can be significant.

As a general rule, accidents that result in more severe injuries and property damage allow the plaintiff’s attorney to ask for larger sums of money. It can be difficult to estimate damages without first talking to a lawyer, so it is important to have a discussion about the particulars of the accident and injuries to the victim.

Wrongful death lawsuits

This accident involved a fatality where the victim is no longer available to file a lawsuit against the driver at fault and their employer. South Dakota has a wrongful death statute just like every other state which sets out the rules about how other family members can make a claim on the deceased person’s behalf.

South Dakota’s wrongful death statute says that any willful act, negligent act, or default that results in someone’s death can become grounds for a civil lawsuit. The state’s laws essentially make this type of lawsuit into a personal injury claim for a deceased person. A unique rule in the state is that the victim’s family is allowed to ask for two categories of damages. One related to losses sustained by family members, and others related to losses from the person’s estate. The family’s losses generally deal with lost financial support from the person’s earnings, the value of the services they could have provided, and emotional losses. The estate’s damages include medical expenses immediately before death, hospitalization, funeral costs, and lost wages. South Dakota also allows for punitive damages in cases where egregious conduct caused the victim’s death.

The statute of limitations is three years from the exact date a person dies, so it is best to contact an attorney sooner rather than later.

Talk to a local lawyer in South Dakota today

If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, contact the attorneys at Ogborn, Mihm, and Quaintance. They will provide professional guidance that will help you succeed and collect appropriate compensation after filing a lawsuit.

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