If a truck driver, trucking company, or another negligent party caused your injuries in an accident, contact Schwaba Law Firm immediately. With Andrew Schwaba on your side, you could recover compensation for your medical care and other crash-related costs.
Large trucks like tractor-trailers can cause severe injuries in collisions with small cars. Determining fault and seeking legal action against the liable party can be challenging. You should not try to handle your case alone. Instead, turn to an experienced Michigan truck accident lawyer from Schwaba Law Firm
Reach out today for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about how Andrew can help.
What Is Considered a Truck in Michigan?
In Michigan, a commercial truck is used for interstate or intrastate commerce with specific weight ratings. If a combination vehicle like a semi-truck or 18-wheeler transports property or passengers in intrastate, interstate, or foreign commerce, and it has a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or higher, it’s a commercial truck. Towed units with a gross vehicle weight of at least 10,001 pounds are also commercial vehicles.
Why Truck Accidents Are More Complicated Than Other Motor Vehicle Crashes
Accidents involving cars and trucks seem similar on the surface. Both cause damage to vehicles and other property and lead to injuries and fatalities. However, truck accidents are complex and involve unique elements you won’t find in crashes between passenger vehicles.
Accidents involving trucks are more complicated than other vehicle crashes for many reasons, including:
- Proving Liability – Because truck crashes might involve numerous vehicles and at-fault parties, determining liability is difficult. Even if you know who is at fault, proving they should be financially responsible for your injuries is a tedious process. Trucking companies often hire intimidating defense teams to avoid accepting responsibility.
- Multiple Vehicles – Trucks are long, wide, and heavy. Collisions can include several other vehicles. Investigating claims takes time. Your lawyer must review the evidence to determine whether more than one person is at fault and calculate the available coverage for all injured parties.
- Complex Regulations – A Michigan truck accident attorney will know all the regulations governing commercial truck drivers, trucking companies, cargo companies, and other trucking industry elements. Your lawyer will be able to determine whether any of these regulations were broken and by which parties, which can add a different dimension to your truck accident claim.
What Are the State and Federal Trucking Laws?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces standards everyone in the trucking industry must follow. Michigan adopted the federal standards, and they include the following:
- Hours of Service (HOS) Rules – The HOS regulations prohibit truckers from exceeding a maximum number of hours on the road.
- Logbooks and Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) – Truck drivers must maintain records regarding information about their trips. That includes keeping track of how many hours and miles they drive, when they take breaks, and any time they change their driving status.
- Drug and Alcohol Testing – Motor carriers must perform random drug and alcohol testing on their truckers. Anyone who fails the test gets suspended from their duties.
- Weight and Size Limits – Michigan limits the size and weight of cargo. Loading items on the truck beyond these limits increases the risk of an accident.
- Cargo Securement – Using appropriate securement systems to prevent contents from blowing off, leaking, sifting, dropping, or leaving the vehicle is required.
Common Types and Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents
Truck crashes come in various forms, such as:
- Jackknife Accident –Sudden braking, turning too fast, and other abrupt maneuvers can cause a commercial vehicle to jackknife. A jackknife accident happens when the trailer and cab of a semi-truck swing toward each other at an angle.
- Rear-End Crashes – A rear-end collision commonly results from tailgating. A trucker following someone’s car too closely won’t have enough time to brake. Without enough space between the vehicles, the truck will collide with the back of the car.
- Head-On Collisions – Tired truck drivers can’t focus on the road ahead. Some might fall asleep at the wheel. When that happens, they can drift into oncoming traffic and cause a head-on crash.
- Rollover Accidents – Large trucks have a high center of gravity and roll over more easily than small cars. The truck can tip onto its side or roll if the driver hits a curb, sideswipes another vehicle, takes a ramp too fast, or turns too fast.
- Override and Underride Accidents – An override accident happens when a truck collides with the back of a car and drives over the top of it. In an underride accident, a vehicle crashes into the back of a truck and slides under the trailer.
A big rig accident can occur for many reasons. The most common causes include:
- Fatigued driving
- Inexperienced driver
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Failing to check blind spots
- Driving under the influence
- Overloaded or improperly loaded cargo
- Distracted driving
- Poor truck maintenance
What Injuries Can Someone Sustain in a Truck Accident?
Anyone can get hurt in a semi-truck accident. A truck accident injury can be debilitating and require long-term treatment to manage pain and other symptoms
The injuries in truck accidents commonly include:
- Burn injuries
- Loss of limb
- Nerve damage
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Facial and dental injuries
- Severe lacerations
- Traumatic brain injury
In addition, if a Michigan trucking accident ends up being fatal, the family of the victim could file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Not all injuries are physical. Accident victims can experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression after the crash.
Who Could Be Liable for a Truck Accident?
More than one party is responsible for truck safety. Your lawyer might determine that multiple people are at fault for the collision. You can pursue truck accident compensation from anyone whose actions contributed to your injuries, such as:
- The truck driver
- A government agency in charge of maintaining roadways
- A cargo loading company
- The trucking company
- The owner of the truck or trailer, if different from the driver
- A maintenance worker
- A vendor providing services to the trucking company
- The manufacturer of a vehicle or part
- The cargo owner
- The inspection company
What Compensation Can I Expect to Recover in a Michigan Truck Accident Claim?
Michigan drivers must turn to their personal injury protection (PIP) insurance before going after the at-fault driver. You must file your PIP claim within one year of the accident. The only exception is if you provide your insurer with written notice of your injuries within one year of the crash or if the insurance company has already made at least one PIP payment for your injuries.
PIP benefits include:
- Up to $20 daily for replacement services, such as the cost of hiring someone to do household chores
- Necessary medical expenses up to the policy limit
- Up to 85 percent in lost wages for up to three years
You can file a third-party claim or lawsuit against the negligent truck driver or another party if the accident meets at least one of these thresholds:
- The at-fault driver isn’t a resident and they don’t have Michigan car insurance;
- Your injury involves permanent and serious disfigurement or serious impairment of a bodily function;
- The at-fault motorist must be at least 50 percent at fault, you have $1,000 or less in vehicle damage, and your insurance doesn’t cover the damage; or
- The crash occurred in a different state.
The money you recover might compensate you for losses such as:
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings
- Hospital stays, rehabilitative services, and other medical costs
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Mileage to and from doctor’s appointments
- Emotional distress
- Damage to or loss of personal property
What If I Am Partly at Fault in a Michigan Trucking Accident?
In Michigan, modified comparative negligence dictates the amount of compensation an accident victim can receive for their truck accident injury. If you are partially to blame, the jury can reduce your compensation by your percentage of fault.
If your percentage exceeds the other party’s, the jury will decrease your financial award by the percentage they assign you to compensate for your economic losses, which are things with a specific price, like medical bills and lost wages. However, you won’t be able to recover compensation for your noneconomic losses, which are the intangible losses associated with a crash, like pain and suffering.
Benefits of Hiring a Michigan Lawyer for Your Truck Accident Claim
After you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you should not hesitate to hire a truck accident lawyer in Michigan. Once you retain their services, they can:
- Investigate the accident and gather evidence
- Determine all potential at-fault parties and the extent of available insurance
- Handle all communications with the insurance company
- Assess the value of your claim, including past and future losses
- File a claim with the at-fault party’s insurers
- Negotiate with the insurance company
- Take your case to trial if necessary
While your lawyer builds your truck accident case, you can focus on treating your injuries. You don’t have to worry about the complexities of your case. They will handle everything.
Get in Touch with a Truck Accident Lawyer in Michigan Today
A truck accident can lead to life-altering injuries and disrupt your everyday routine. Andrew Schwaba strives to give his clients the level of legal representation and guidance they deserve. You can depend on the dedicated team at Schwaba Law Firm to fight hard to hold the at-fault party accountable for their actions.
If someone else’s negligent conduct caused your injuries in a truck accident, contact Schwaba Law Firm for a free consultation with a trusted Michigan truck accident attorney.