Did you sustain injuries in a truck accident? Did someone else’s negligence cause it? If so, contact Schwaba Law Firm to determine whether you’re entitled to compensation.
You never expect to get hurt in a collision. Aside from the shock of being in a wreck, injuries can be debilitating and require expensive medical treatment to heal. You might need time off from work, further damaging your financial situation. The at-fault party should pay for the harm they caused.
Schwaba Law Firm fights for individuals wronged by others’ misconduct. You will receive quality legal representation when you hire Andrew Schwaba, a reputable Menominee, MI, truck accident attorney. Reach out to Andrew today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
What Is Considered a Truck in Michigan?
In Michigan, determining whether a vehicle is a commercial truck depends on the weight rating or gross combination weight of the hauled trailer or tractor.
A combination vehicle carries passengers or property in interstate, foreign, or intrastate commerce. A truck is automatically considered a commercial vehicle in Michigan if it has a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) or gross combination weight of at least 26,001 pounds. RVs don’t count.
Why Truck Accidents Are More Complicated Than Other Motor Vehicle Crashes
Truck crashes are complicated. They differ significantly from accidents involving small cars for many reasons, such as:
- Catastrophic Injuries – The injuries are often more severe in truck accidents than in other vehicle crashes because of the weight of the truck and the force it generates. Victims can sustain debilitating or permanent damage to internal organs, nerves, and bones.
- Higher Stakes – Federal regulations and state laws require trucking companies to insure their vehicles with high liability limits. Although there’s plenty of coverage for accident victims, insurers don’t want to pay. It makes settling for a fair amount challenging, especially if the value of the truck accident claim is in the millions.
- Unique Regulations – Semi-truck drivers and motor carriers are subject to various laws designed by state and federal governments. These rules aim to prevent accidents by requiring everyone in the trucking industry to meet high standards.
- More Than One Liable Party – Because truck accidents can include more than one at-fault party, determining liability is difficult. Hiring someone with experience investigating these crashes is necessary to uncover the facts and hold the appropriate people or companies financially responsible.
- Different Allegations – There isn’t always one single cause of a truck accident. Sometimes, the trucker is at fault for speeding. Still, the motor carrier is partly responsible for knowingly hiring an unlicensed driver or for pressing the driver to meet an unreasonable deadline. That means filing more than one claim against more than one party is necessary.
What Are the State and Federal Trucking Laws?
In Michigan, the trucking industry must follow the standards imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These standards include:
- Drug and Alcohol Testing – Truck drivers must submit to random alcohol and drug testing. They’re not allowed to consume alcohol while on duty or within four hours of going on duty or driving a commercial motor vehicle. Truckers also can’t possess or be under the influence of an illegal drug or substance, such as amphetamine, Schedule I substance, or derivative of a narcotic.
- Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibits truckers from operating a commercial vehicle beyond a maximum number of hours. Truck drivers can only drive up to 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. They must take a 30-minute break after driving for eight hours without at least a 30-minute break.
- Insurance – Every truck must have liability coverage based on the type of cargo and truck. Heavier vehicles require higher insurance limits. For example, trucks transporting hazardous cargo must have $5 million in coverage.
- Cargo Securement Systems – Some trucks hold hundreds of boxes, heavy appliances, or dangerous chemicals. Securement systems must keep everything firmly in place to prevent cargo from shifting, leaking, or falling off the vehicle.
- Weight Limits – Michigan sets its own limits on weight. Cargo can’t exceed a gross weight of 80,000 pounds. A single axle on an interstate highway can’t carry more than 20,000 pounds, and a tandem axle on an interstate can’t carry more than 34,000. Overloading a trailer puts extra pressure on the tires and can lead to a blowout and cause a crash.
Common Types and Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents
Different types of 18-wheeler, semi-truck, or big rig accidents can happen depending on the circumstances, such as:
- Rollover Accidents – Large trucks are more susceptible to rolling over than other vehicles due to their high center of gravity. If a truck tips or rolls with other vehicles around, it can crush a small car and the occupants inside.
- Rear-End Collisions – Commercial trucks need more time and distance than smaller vehicles to come to a complete stop. The required stopping distance increases the faster a truck travels. Tailgating limits the stopping distance, preventing a trucker from braking to avoid a collision.
- Jackknife Accident – In a jackknife accident, the cab and trailer of a commercial truck slide toward each other at an angle. It can occur if the truck driver brakes suddenly, takes a sharp turn too fast, hits an icy patch, or swerves to avoid a hazard.
- Override and Underride Accidents – An override truck accident happens when the front of a truck collides with the rear of another vehicle and ends up on top of it. An underride accident occurs when a car crashes into the back of a truck and ends up underneath.
- Head-On Collisions – Many truckers face busy schedules and strict deadlines. That might cause some to violate federal regulations such as the hours of service Falling asleep at the wheel or turning the wrong way down a one-way street can lead to a head-on crash.
Although anyone can be at fault, truck drivers commonly cause truck accidents. The typical reasons include the following:
- Distracted driving
- Failing to check blind spots
- Fatigued driving
- Poor maintenance and inspection
- Driving under the influence
- Violating traffic laws
- Exceeding driving limits
- Failing to yield the right of way
What Injuries Can Someone Sustain in a Truck Accident?
A truck accident injury can vary depending on the factors involved in the collision. The most common injuries include the following:
- Burn injuries
- Permanent disability
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Internal bleeding
- Loss of limb
- Traumatic brain injury
- Severe lacerations
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
In the event of a fatal truck accident, the victim’s family may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who Could Be Liable for a Truck Accident?
Numerous parties can be liable for your injuries after a truck accident. You should not be financially responsible for medical care, lost wages, or other expenses.
Common defendants in a truck accident case include the following:
- The cargo owner
- The trucking company
- Maintenance or repair employees
- The truck driver
- The owner of the cab or trailer
- The vehicle or part manufacturer
- A cargo loading company
- The inspection company
- The government entity responsible for road maintenance and safety
What Compensation Can I Expect to Recover in a Menominee, MI, Truck Accident Claim?
In Michigan, anyone hurt in a vehicle crash must file a claim with their personal injury protection (PIP) insurer before pursuing other sources of compensation. PIP coverage includes benefits such as:
- Necessary medical expenses
- Up to 85 percent of lost wages for no more than three years
- Up to $20 in daily replacement services, such as hiring someone to do your laundry and other household work
Your case must meet at least one of the following thresholds in order for you to file a third-party claim or lawsuit against the negligent party:
- The value of your vehicle damage is at least $1,000, your insurance carrier doesn’t pay for the damage, and the at-fault driver is at least 50 percent at fault;
- The accident happened in another state;
- You sustained serious impairment of a bodily function or permanent and serious disfigurement; or
- The at-fault motorist isn’t a resident of Michigan and doesn’t have car insurance in the state.
The truck accident compensation you recover from the liable party might include:
- Loss of quality of life
- Prescriptions, physical therapy, emergency room visits, and other medical costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Mileage to and from treatment facilities
- Property damage
What If I Am Partly at Fault in a Menominee, MI, Trucking Accident?
If you’re partially responsible for the truck accident, the judge or jury can use the modified comparative negligence law to reduce your compensation. Any award you’re entitled to will be reduced by the percentage of fault you bear for the accident. Additionally, you can’t recover compensation for intangible losses like pain and suffering if your percentage of fault is higher than the other person’s.
Benefits of Hiring a Menominee, MI, Lawyer for Your Truck Accident Claim
Hiring a Menominee, MI, truck accident lawyer can benefit your lawsuit. The attorney you hire can handle every part of the process, such as:
- Creating a legal strategy to improve your chance of recovering the maximum possible compensation
- Investigating the crash to obtain evidence
- Determining who is liable and reviewing their insurance coverage
- Communicating with the insurance adjuster about the claim
- Calculating the value of your case
- Negotiating a settlement
- Filing a lawsuit if the insurer doesn’t offer an adequate settlement
- Representing you during all litigation stages, including trial
Get in Touch with a Truck Accident Lawyer in Menominee, MI, Today
Schwaba Law Firm will provide the support you need to get through the traumatic experience of a truck accident. Andrew Schwaba will fight by your side for justice and aggressively seek the compensation you need to put your life back together.
If you got hurt in a commercial vehicle collision someone else caused, call Schwaba Law Firm today for a free consultation with a Menominee, MI, truck accident lawyer.