An accident involving death can sometimes be a cause of a second fatal event. This happened in Georgia recently when traffic was stopped on Interstate 20 due to delays caused by an earlier fatal accident. A tractor trailer approached and negligently plowed into a car that was stopped in the delay. The car spun out-of-control and was mauled by another tractor trailer, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

A 17-year-old female passenger in the car died at the scene of the truck accident. Her 13-year-old sister died a few days later. The girls were from Rocky Mount. Their mother, who operated the car, and their 15-year-old brother were injured in the fatal accident. The driver of the first tractor trailer was also reportedly injured.

The first tractor trailer driver was clearly at fault when he crashed into the stopped car containing the four occupants. The facts are sparsely reported, but in some limited instances there could be actionable fault also placed on the second tractor trailer, depending on the circumstances. In any event, the driver of the first truck and the company that he was working for are both liable to the estates of the dead girls for wrongful death damages from this fatal accident.

Damages collectible by each girl’s estate from this trucking accident include pain and suffering if they were conscious at all after the event. It also includes lost wages and lost earning capacity for a lifetime. This would be a very large amount for both girls in that they had a whole lifetime of work ahead. The written report and testimony of a forensic actuarial expert is required to establish the amount of lost wages for each decedent.

Georgia law also provides compensation to the two people injured in this fatal accident, including for their pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages. Compensation also includes the value of any permanent loss of earning capacity. Generally speaking, insurance proceeds from a truck accident are usually adequate to cover the economic damages suffered. Businesses that own tractor trailers often have excess or ‘umbrella’ insurance coverage over and above the standard coverage for an accident. This excess amount can possibly be tapped if the basic coverage is insufficient to pay the amount of the damages owed.

Source: Rocky Mount Telegram, “Local sisters killed in Georgia traffic wreck,” May 15, 2013