When a collision occurs between two fast-moving vehicles, the results can be catastrophic. Major injuries are all too common in motor vehicle accidents, and the worst scenarios can result in the death of one or more victims. These fatal accidents are often preventable, meaning that one or more parties played a contributory role. Establishing negligence in motor vehicle wrongful death cases takes considerable expertise to factor in the many possible causes, including human error, vehicle malfunction and issues of premises liability. Understanding how these different factors combine and overlap is essential to waging and winning any motor vehicle wrongful death lawsuit.
Automobile accidents are by far the most common cause of wrongful death. Cars have grown heavier and less maneuverable in recent years, and the result has been a rise in crashes involving SUVs and other large vehicles. While the first culprit to consider in any accident is driver error, cars may also contain a number of hazards of their own. Malfunctioning brakes, tire tread separation and a poorly designed chassis prone to rollover can all contribute to a fatal crash. A forensic expert will usually work with your attorney to re-create the events of that accident and determine what role, if any, product liability might have played.
Trucks are also more commonly associated with fatal accidents than cars. This is a simple function of their weight; large commercial trucks can top out at over 10 tons, and stopping quickly is often impossible for such massive vehicles. Because the forces involved are so much greater, truck accidents tend to precipitate far more fatal injuries than any other vehicle on the road. Truck accidents are also unusually prone to issues of driver fatigue, particularly over long-haul shipping routes that can easily stretch into the night. When proper guidelines governing rest and dispatching are not followed, you can mount a wrongful death case against the employers as well.
Motorcycle accidents are also disproportionately fatal, but for the opposite reason of trucks: this time, the weight imbalance is assumed by the victim. Motorcycles are feather-light and poorly reinforced for highway-speed collisions, and even the most careful riders can be thrown from the bike into lanes that contain other speeding cars. Motorcycle wrongful death accidents are often the result of driver inattention in another vehicle, especially drivers who are not properly checking blind spots for bikes and smaller vehicles. Motorcycle riders are governed and protected by the same traffic laws as everyone else, meaning drivers who ignore bikes on the road are committing criminal negligence.
One final class of vehicle that gives rise to a great many wrongful death lawsuits is mass transit. This category includes taxis, shuttles, buses and trains, and covers some of the most important and catastrophic collisions in the nation. Taxis are notoriously aggressive in traffic, for instance, and fatal crashes that arise as a result of driver error are common in cities across the country. Buses are subject to their own byzantine routes and lane-change protocols, and the opportunities for a serious error to result in death are numerous. Train accidents are governed by a slightly different set of laws, but wrongful death cases that arise from train accidents may include passengers on the train as well as cars struck at a crossing. In each of these cases, product liability and premises liability can play a role, especially when signal technologies such as lights and warnings fail to work as they should.
Motor vehicle accidents can also give rise to wrongful death suits when just one vehicle is involved. Product liability/vehicle failure and hazardous roadways are common culprits. And pedestrians who are killed by out-of-control or incautious drivers represent a large statistic in many cities and counties. Most such accidents take place at night, although the high speeds of rural driving tend to result in a higher incidence of fatal crashes.
Motor vehicle wrongful death cases can involve any number of vehicles — cars, trucks, vans, buses, motorcycles, and more. The root causes of any accident can be difficult to analyze, and may require the services of a forensic specialist. If you want to win a full and fair settlement for a wrongful death motor vehicle accident, it is essential to work with attorneys who can make sense of this event and assign responsibility to the appropriate parties.