The size and weight of many trucks, tractor trailers, and 18-wheelers mean that a crash often results in devastating or even fatal injuries. If you or a loved one was injured in a truck collision or wreck, you might benefit from the counsel of a Michigan truck accident lawyer.
After a crash, you may have numerous questions and a mounting pile of medical bills. However, if a trucker’s careless or reckless behavior caused your injuries, you should not have to shoulder the subsequent losses alone. A skilled and compassionate attorney could gather evidence surrounding your accident and work tirelessly to build a persuasive claim for compensation.
The Reasons for Michigan Truck Crashes
While mistakes are common on the roadways, the cause of a truck crash is often due to the careless, reckless, or malicious behavior of a trucker or other driver. For truckers, poor training, fatigue, improper turns, blind spots, and equipment failure—such as faulty reflectors, lights, and malfunctioning brakes—are common reasons for wrecks.
In other cases, however, a wreck may be the result of improper loading or overloading. If a semi or tractor trailer is not properly loaded, the extra weight may cause it to lose balance. Similarly, the weight might affect the truck driver’s ability to stop and control the truck, especially during braking and turns. Because of this, overloaded trucks are at a greater risk for rollovers.
Furthermore, the use of drugs or alcohol, speeding, unnecessary tailgating, neglect to yield, and distracted driving are also leading causes of crashes. No matter the reason, the resulting damages inflicted on an accident victim are often severe.
Typical Truck Accident Injuries
While the injuries sustained in any motor vehicle collision can be severe, accidents involving trucks tend to lead to serious and often life-threatening injuries. While some damages may be minor—such as scrapes, bruises, and sprains—others may include nerve damage, fractured and broken bones, back and spine injuries, scarring and disfigurement, brain trauma, and even death.
Along with the physical trauma and emotional anguish often suffered by a collision with a semi-truck or 18-wheeler, an injured person will likely be facing extensive medical bills and missed time at work. As a result, the victim of a truck accident may wish to file an insurance claim for benefits or retain a knowledgeable Michigan attorney to assess the circumstances of a crash and determine who was negligent for a civil lawsuit.
No-Fault Insurance Claims and Civil Lawsuits for Michigan Truck Collisions
Essentially, there are two ways a motorist injured in a truck crash may pursue compensation. The first is to make a claim through their insurance company under the no-fault system in Michigan. When successful, these claims may help a victim with medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs.
While these claims may provide some financial relief for a truck accident victim, they often do not cover the extent of their losses. Because of this, many injured people instead pursue a civil lawsuit to request compensation from the at-fault driver. Federal law requires that commercial trucks traveling in interstate commerce carry $750,000 of insurance for bodily injury and property damage. Furthermore, many trucking companies have larger or additional policies as well.
Navigating the legal system is complex, however, and requires extensive knowledge of Michigan law, as well as each step of the claims process. Often, an at-fault driver or trucker will have lawyers on their side, as well as insurance companies who will try to offer a settlement that drastically undervalues a claimant’s damages. A well-versed lawyer could help to guide a truck accident victim through each step of the civil lawsuit process by explaining their rights and collecting evidence of negligence on their behalf for a thorough claim.
Determining Fault in a Michigan Truck Injury Lawsuit
For a successful claim on the legal basis of negligence, there are numerous elements—each including multiple steps—that must be proven by a truck crash victim. The first and most basic step is to establish that an at-fault driver or trucker owed the injured plaintiff a duty of care. Virtually every driver on Michigan roadways owes this duty to their fellow motorists.
Next, it must be proven that a negligent driver disregarded or breached this duty of care—by speeding, driving while inebriated, driving while exhausted, or texting while driving, for example. Here, a tenacious lawyer may help to investigate trucking logs, witness statements, and other relevant evidence to establish a breach of duty.
Lastly, it must be shown that this negligence resulted in a crash and that this accident was the direct cause for a claimant’s injuries and subsequent damages—including medical costs, emotional strain, and similar losses. Even when these elements are apparent, it often takes the ability and savvy of a truck accident lawyer to prove negligence in Michigan.
Sometimes, a crash involving a truck is not the direct fault of the driver. This is often the case when parts of a truck are faulty or defective and cause a crash. For example, a truck driver may hit the brakes with plenty of time to stop for traffic, but if the brakes are defective or have not been properly maintained, it may cause an accident. When this is the case and a defective truck is involved in an accident, it might further complicate an injury claim.
This is largely because, when determining liability for a crash, it is more difficult to identify who is to blame when the root cause is a defective part. Once fault is determined, however, a truck crash claim might involve multiple responsible parties, including the trucking company—for not maintaining the truck or failing to get an inspection—as well as the manufacturer of the defective part. Furthermore, if the trucker was responsible for maintaining their rig, they might also be held accountable.
Poor Truck Driver Training
When a truck driver works for a trucking company or other employer, that company is legally responsible for them while they are on the road. Therefore, if a mistake happens, or if a driver’s error causes an accident, the company might be considered liable.
While any company is supposed to ensure that their drivers are properly trained and can safely handle trucks on the road, companies often fail to provide proper training due to the money it costs. When this happens and a trucker crashes due to their inexperience, both the driver and company might be pursued for compensation.
Hazardous Material Spills
Large commercial trucks often carry hazardous material. Oil, gas, chemicals, and more are shipped around Michigan every day. When these trucks are on the road, it is important that they are loaded properly, so that these dangerous materials do not spill and pose a risk to others on the road.
Therefore, anyone responsible for loading and unloading cargo onto a truck has an obligation to do so with safety. This duty often falls on the truck driver, or another person working for the trucking company. As a result, when any of these individuals fail to properly handle hazardous material and a spill occurs, anyone injured might be able to pursue a claim against them.
What is the Deadline to File a Claim?
No matter how viable a claim is, every injured motorist seeking compensation should be aware of the statute of limitations in Michigan. Essentially, this statute outlines when a potential claimant may pursue a claim in civil court. For truck wrecks, a victim has three years from the date of the incident that caused their injuries to take legal action.
After this time, any potential claim runs the risk of facing a dismissal. While there might be exceptions to this deadline, a qualified lawyer could work with a potential plaintiff to file a claim that satisfies the statute of limitations in Michigan.
Help From a Michigan Truck Accident Lawyer
After a collision, wreck, or other incidents with a truck, an injured victim may be facing a lengthy rehabilitation period and an inability to work, despite mounting medical expenses and other costs. However, when a negligent trucker is responsible for a crash, you have a legal right to request compensation.
There are numerous ways a hard-working and experienced attorney could help to build a claimant’s case. These include:
- Answer all questions an injured claimant has through each step of the legal process
- Negotiate with insurance companies
- Obtain and study an accident report
- Hire an investigator to interview witnesses, take photographs, and review video surveillance or other relevant footage
- Speak with a truck accident reconstruction expert in order to study a claimant’s unique case and determine negligence
- Assist an injured plaintiff with a No-fault insurance claim, as well as with a lawsuit against a negligent truck company and their driver
- Handle all of the appropriate paperwork in the event that a truck crash victim has died, in order to pursue a wrongful death claim for the decedent’s family
No matter your circumstances after a crash, the counsel of a legal professional may help to provide clarity and a possible direction for your future. By working with a dedicated attorney, you could assess your legal options and pursue compensation that suits your needs. To schedule a consultation, call today.
Michigan Truck Accident References & Resources