Accident Survivors Can Still Sue When the At-Fault Driver Is Deceased

After a serious traffic accident, a survivor usually asks themselves several questions in quick succession.

Am I going to be okay?
Will everyone else be okay?
Was it my fault?
What am I going to miss out on?
How will I pay for medical care and other expenses?

When the answer to the first two questions is “yes,” survivors can jump right into figuring out responsibility and how to move forward. But what about when this isn’t the case?

A fatality can make the next few questions more daunting, but it doesn’t make them unnecessary. Survivors still need to pay bills, file insurance claims, and often fight for fair compensation in court.

This can be done even when the at-fault driver is deceased.

One Trucker Is Dead and Another Injured After a Collision in Sandy Springs

An example of this phenomenon happened in Sandy Springs in September. During the afternoon rush, one tractor-trailer rear-ended another on the I-285, near Riverside Drive. The wreck started a fire that completely shut down one side of the freeway for several hours.

The truck that was hit was carrying scrap metal and magnesium, which is highly flammable. First responders had difficulty extinguishing the fire completely, because of the magnesium’s tendency to reignite.

The fire appears to have started with the rear truck, however. The fuel on board exploded on impact, killing the driver, before the flames spread to the magnesium on the front truck.

The surviving driver is now facing the unenviable task of standing up for their rights and needs following an accident that killed someone else. Even though the survivor does not appear to have done anything wrong, this process will be emotionally, socially, and practically challenging. The two trucking companies involved may even attempt to use the discomfort of the situation to minimize their own responsibilities.

Footage of the crash site shows what appears to be the word “Arch” on the rear truck’s logo, and “Star” on the front truck’s logo. There are multiple logistic companies with names that might fit, but the survivor likely knows who the correct ones are.

Legal Action Is Often Necessary to Hold Insurance Companies to Their Commitments

Accident survivors who were injured by now-deceased drivers often worry about appearing uncaring, or adding to the stress and financial burden of a grieving family. Unless the deceased driver was uninsured, however, pursuing fair compensation doesn’t really have much to do with that driver’s family or estate.

An auto insurance company is responsible for its customers’ liability on the road, whether a given customer is still alive or not. The purpose of hiring a lawyer after a fatal wreck is not to harm or demand money from the deceased driver’s family, but to make sure the insurance company pays what it legally owes.

In the case of commercial wrecks, like the one above, there’s even more separation between a survivor’s case and the deceased driver’s family.

Legally, professional drivers are not personally liable for accidents that occur while they are driving for an employer. When trucking accidents like this one happen, it’s the at-fault driver’s employer — or, more often, the employer’s insurance company — who owes compensation to the victims.

It’s crucial to remember that insurance companies, trucking companies, and other for-profit entities are rarely above exploiting people’s emotions to maximize their own profits. When a survivor accepts inadequate compensation because of misplaced feelings of guilt, it only benefits these companies, not the at-fault driver or their loved ones.

If you are the survivor of the Sandy Springs truck fire, or if you have also been injured in a fatal accident that was not your fault in Sandy Springs or throughout the Atlanta area, reach out to The Stoddard Firm to learn how we can help.

Attorney Matt Stoddard

Atlanta Personal Injury LawyerMatt Stoddard is a professional, hardworking, ethical advocate. He routinely faces some of the nation’s largest companies and some of the world’s largest insurers – opponents who have virtually unlimited resources. In these circumstances, Mr. Stoddard is comfortable. Mr. Stoddard provides his strongest efforts to his clients, and he devotes the firm’s significant financial resources to presenting the strongest case possible on their behalf. Matt understands that his clients must put their trust in him. That trust creates an obligation for Matt to work tirelessly on their behalf, and Matt Stoddard does not take that obligation lightly. [ Attorney Bio ]

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