Can You Sue for Mental Anguish or Emotional Distress When a Truck Accident Kills a Loved One?
If you’ve lost a loved one due to the negligence or recklessness of a truck driver, or the failure of a trucker’s equipment, you are undoubtedly hurt, and unsure of where to turn or what your rights are. Though money will never bring back the person you’ve loved, you may need financial compensation to help you to move forward with your life. Is mental anguish or emotional distress something that you can be compensated for? The brief answer is: yes. Here is some more information on the specifics of the Florida statute governing wrongful death cases and how it provides for you to recover compensation for the pain you’ve been forced to endure.
Collisions involving commercial trucks are particularly catastrophic due to the sheer size of the vehicle involved. According to statistics provided by Florida’s Integrated Report Exchange System, 25 fatal traffic accidents involving medium to heavy trucks over 10,000 pounds occurred in the state in 2016. Another 133 accidents involving large trucks caused incapacitating injuries. So far, in 2018, there have been more than 28,000 accidents involving commercial vehicles statewide.
Due to shipments arriving by sea to the multiple ports around the state, Florida features several major truck routes, meaning that there are more trucks driving through the state here than there are in other regions of the nation. Aside from over the road tractor-trailers, there is also ample traffic from other commercial trucks such as cement mixers and other construction vehicles, delivery trucks such as FedEx, and garbage trucks. Commercial delivery vehicles are often required to carry much higher insurance policy limits than the average automobile insurance policy.
On a national level, the government has attempted to reduce the number of truck accidents by limiting the number of hours that a driver can be on the road before he or she must stop and take a rest. Additionally, new technologies are being introduced all the time to reduce commercial truck blind spots, and to assist in providing a safer journey for both truck drivers and others they share the road with.
A Specific Example
According to a report from The Ledger, when asked what Lakeland resident, Michelle Dimezza, misses about her husband, the answers are many. She misses dinners with him. She misses being hugged and held by him. She misses the life they shared together. Earlier this year, her husband Michael was struck and killed by a garbage truck as he was riding his motorcycle to work. The driver was allegedly talking on his phone as he was driving and hit the back of the motorcycle as it was stopped at a light. Dimezza filed a wrongful death case against the driver and his employer. An investigation into the crash was not yet complete at the time of the reporting.
Florida State Statute 768.16-768.26, known as the Florida Wrongful Death Act, defines wrongful death as the death of a person “caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person” in which the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued”. The law provides for the awarding of damages in wrongful death cases for the following individuals and circumstances:
- Each survivor may receive damages for the loss of support and services that they would have received if their loved one had survived.
- When evaluating the loss of support and services, the survivor’s relationship to the decedent and the amount of the decedent’s probable net income available to that particular survivor will be considered.
- A surviving spouse can recover damages for the loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection and for mental pain and suffering.
- Minor children of the decedent, and all children if there is no surviving spouse, may recover damages due to the loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance, as well as for mental pain and suffering.
- Each parent of a deceased minor child may recover damages for mental pain and suffering, as can the parents of a deceased adult child if there are no other survivors present.
- Medical expenses and the cost of funeral services may also be recovered by the survivor who has paid them.
- Wrongful death cases may also be filed on behalf of any blood relative or adoptive sibling who was at least partly dependent on the decedent for support or services.
Is There a Time Limit to File a Wrongful Death Suit?
When considering whether or not to file a wrongful death suit, it is important to remember that time is of the essence. The statute of limitations for most wrongful death cases in the state of Florida is two years, meaning that you must file the suit within two years from the date of your loved one’s death.
You’re Not Alone
The loss of a loved one is a trying time. When that loss occurs due to the negligence or recklessness of a commercial truck driver, or the failure of the trucker’s equipment, you may find yourself not only needing to endure grief, but also contending with unforeseen medical or funeral expenses and the loss of monetary support. You may also have to face down an insurance company who wants to pay little or nothing for your loss.
The experienced, compassionate truck accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group know how difficult this time can be for the families of wrongful death victims. And, we know all about the low-ball offers that insurance companies may try to talk those families into accepting. We are known for dealing aggressively with these insurance companies and their tactics. We also work with a number of accident scene investigators and accident reconstruction experts who can help to determine who was at fault in an accident. If necessary, our team has the talent and commitment to prove our clients’ cases in court. We work with victims of all types of trucking accidents.
If your loved one has died as a result of injuries sustained in an accident involving a large truck, you may be entitled to significant compensation. For more information and to schedule your free consultation, contact the Dolman Law Group online or by calling (727) 451-6900.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765