Can you get justice against a trucker who kills a family member?

The law may be able to provide justice for you if someone causes the death of a family member. For example, the state might pursue criminal charges or traffic charges. However, suing someone — bringing a complaint in civil court, that is — has a different purpose. 

While you might be able to sue a trucker, it is likely your legal strategy would also involve other parties. This is because the purpose of a civil suit is typically not to enact punishment. Instead, it is to make you and your family whole again to the greatest extent possible. 

Guilt versus negligence

FindLaw has a good F.A.Q. section on truck accident injuries. This resource mentions the idea of negligence. 

If someone acted negligently or recklessly, then you might be able to recover damages from that person. The same goes for companies. 

For example, if a trucking company pushed a driver to work longer hours than would be safe, that could be a negligent act. In another example, if a company failed to notify the driver of hazardous cargo, that could also be negligence. 

Compensation versus penalty

When the state brings criminal charges, the purpose is to prevent other crimes, rehabilitate offenders and provide moral comfort for you as a victim. When you sue another party, the purpose is typically to recover compensation for damages. 

This compensation could include the value of medical bills, damage to your property, pain and suffering. Insurance companies are usually the ones who pay. However, these companies often limit the amount they pay on behalf of their clients. 

These limits often make it difficult to recover fully from one person, such as a truck driver. Discovering every negligent party could help you get what you deserve. 

Justice versus remedy

Criminal cases are about balancing civil rights against antisocial actions. In some cases, creating this balance involves punishment. Civil court typically focuses more on justifying a situation financially. 

The law unfortunately does not always offer a clear moral justice. However, many find their sense of closure somewhere in the combination of criminal and civil case outcomes.