Were you or a loved one injured in a truck crash in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan? Did a negligent truck driver, trucking company, or another entity cause you severe harm? If so, you could be owed significant compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, repairs to your vehicle, and other losses. You deserve answers and justice — and Andrew Schwaba is here to help.
Let Andrew put his extensive experience to work for you. Get in touch with a Michigan Upper Peninsula truck accident lawyer at Schwaba Law Firm today for a free consultation.
What Is Considered a Truck in Michigan?
A commercial truck is a vehicle used for business or transporting commercial goods. These vehicles are not usually intended for personal use. Commercial trucks can be defined and categorized in various ways, including their size, weight, configuration, and purpose.
For example, commercial trucks can be categorized based on their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). This is the maximum weight a vehicle can safely carry, including its weight and the weight of passengers, fuel, and cargo. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) classifies trucks into eight classes based on GVWR. Trucks can also be classified by the structure or configuration of the truck, such as cab and chassis, tractor-trailer, or straight truck. Commercial trucks are also classified by their intended use or purpose, such as delivery trucks, dump trucks, tow trucks, tankers, and refrigerated trucks.
Why Truck Accidents Are More Complicated Than Other Motor Vehicle Crashes
Commercial truck crashes are more complicated than regular passenger vehicle collisions because there may be:
- Multiple Liable Parties – More than one person or party could potentially be at fault for a truck accident. For example, the driver could be partially responsible for a crash. Still, their employer (the trucking company) might also be vicariously liable under the respondeat superior doctrine, because that entity would be responsible for negligence on the driver’s part within the scope of their employment.
- Severe Injuries – People involved in a truck accident are at significantly higher risk of severe, catastrophic, or fatal injuries than individuals involved in regular passenger vehicle crashes. This is mainly because commercial vehicles are much larger and heavier than motorcycles, cars, or light trucks.
- More insurance Coverage – Under federal law, commercial carriers must purchase high liability limits for every truck in the fleet. Accident victims can seek more compensation to cover their expenses with higher insurance policies available.
- Different Claims – Because truck accidents are so dangerous and devastating, it is not unusual for multiple people to be injured in a collision, especially if the crash results in a multi-car pile-up. This could result in numerous injury claims against the available insurance policies.
- Regulations and Requirements – The trucking industry is subject to specific state and federal regulations. Truck drivers, motor carriers, and other parties responsible for the safe operation of commercial vehicles must follow these regulations. If they fail to do so and a crash occurs, they could be liable for the harm others suffer.
What Are the State and Federal Trucking Laws?
Michigan law requires specific licensing and endorsements for those driving commercial trucks. Endorsements are necessary if the vehicle transports special cargo such as hazardous waste or toxic chemicals.
Individuals and companies in the trucking industry must follow federal regulations, such as:
- Weight and Size Limits – Cargo must be loaded responsibly and according to strict weight and size limits. An overloaded truck could be dangerously out of balance or place too much pressure on the tires.
- Hours of Service (HOS) Rules – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) restricts truck drivers’ time on the road during their shifts. Truckers can’t exceed an 11-hour driving limit after 10 consecutive hours off duty. They must also take a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving without at least a 30-minute interruption.
- Liability Insurance – Every trucking company must carry liability insurance for their commercial vehicles. The minimum required coverage depends on the truck’s weight and the type of cargo it is carrying. For example, a truck carrying hazardous materials would need additional insurance coverage in case of an accident or another incident.
- Alcohol and Drug Testing – Drivers with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) are subject to strict regulations regarding drug and alcohol use. Drivers are typically tested pre-employment, post-accident, and randomly or when an employer suspects they should conduct a test.
Common Types and Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents
The most common types of big rig, 18-wheeler, and semi-truck accidents include:
- Rollover accidents
- Rear-end collisions
- Multi-vehicle crashes
- Override and underride accidents
- Head-on collisions
- Jackknife accidents
Driver negligence is one of the leading causes of truck accidents. Examples include:
- Drunk driving
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Unsafe lane changes
- Taking a turn too wide
- Speeding or driving too fast in dangerous conditions
- Distracted driving
- Ignoring malfunctioning truck parts
- Failing to check blind spots
- Fatigued driving
What Injuries Can Someone Sustain in a Truck Accident?
Common injuries people suffer in an Upper Peninsula, MI, commercial truck accident include:
- Permanent disability
- Internal bleeding
- Loss of limb
- Broken bones
- Severe lacerations
- Nerve damage
- Burn injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Psychological trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
Who Could Be Liable for a Truck Accident?
Determining who is responsible for a truck accident can be challenging. Liable parties for a truck accident could include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The cab or trailer owner
- The cargo loading company
- The inspection company
- A government entity
- The parts or vehicle manufacturer
What Compensation Can I Expect to Recover in an Upper Peninsula, MI, Truck Accident Claim?
In Michigan, seeking compensation after a truck accident requires filing a personal injury protection (PIP) claim first. You must turn to your insurance policy before seeking compensation from another party.
PIP benefits cover expenses such as:
- Medical treatment
- Up to $20 for daily replacement services, such as the cost of hiring household help
- Up to 85 percent of lost wages for up to three years after the collision
You can only file a third-party claim or lawsuit against the truck driver, motor carrier, or another negligent party if your case meets one or more of the following requirements:
- The accident occurred in a different state.
- Your vehicle damage is $1,000 or more, your insurer doesn’t cover the damage, and the other motorist is at least 50 percent liable for the crash.
- The driver isn’t a Michigan resident and doesn’t have insurance issued by the state.
- Your injuries involve severe or permanent disfigurement or serious impairment of bodily function.
The compensation you receive could cover the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings
- Hospital stays, rehabilitative services, and other medical expenses
- Loss of quality of life
- Repairs or replacement of damaged or destroyed property, including your vehicle
What If I Am Partly at Fault in an Upper Peninsula of Michigan Trucking Accident?
Michigan’s modified comparative negligence doctrine establishes how compensation is awarded if parties share fault for an injury accident. If you are partly responsible for the crash, your compensation could be reduced by your percentage of fault.
If you are determined to be more at fault for the crash than the other party, you won’t receive compensation for your noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. You could still recover money for your economic losses, but that will also be based on your percentage of shared fault.
Benefits of Hiring a Michigan Upper Peninsula Lawyer for Your Truck Accident Claim
Seeking compensation after a truck accident can be challenging, especially when dealing with medical treatment, rehabilitation, and recovery. That’s why hiring an experienced truck accident lawyer to represent you after an injury accident is crucial. An Upper Peninsula, MI, truck accident attorney could help you by:
- Evaluating Your Case – Your lawyer will review your truck accident case and tailor a strategy to meet your needs and goals. They can determine whether a claim can get you the money you deserve or whether a lawsuit is necessary to resolve the truck accident matter.
- Investigating the Accident – Your attorney will investigate to determine who is at fault and obtain evidence to prove liability. They might work with experts, such as accident reconstruction specialists and medical providers, to strengthen your case.
- Establishing Liability – Sometimes, the issue of liability arises. Because truck accidents can involve multiple at-fault parties, an experienced attorney can apply state and federal laws to determine who should be liable.
- Calculating the Damages – Calculating the correct number to demand from the insurance company is challenging. Your lawyer can calculate an appropriate value to compensate you for your economic and noneconomic losses.
- Negotiating a Settlement or Seeking Compensation in Court – Your lawyer will pursue a fair settlement from the responsible party or parties. If they refuse to offer what you’re owed, your lawyer might recommend filing a lawsuit and seeking compensation in court.
Get in Touch with a Truck Accident Lawyer in the Upper Peninsula Today
Andrew Schwaba understands how devastating truck accidents can be. You never anticipated being severely injured in a commercial vehicle crash, and now you’re forced to deal with the trauma and financial strain that the collision has caused. But qualified help is available to you. Andrew knows how to handle truck accident claims, and he’ll be ready to seek the maximum compensation possible for your claim.
Reach out to Schwaba Law Firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation with a truck accident lawyer in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.