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 were injured in a truck collision or wreck, you will benefit from the counsel of a Michigan truck accident lawyer.
Our skilled and compassionate attorneys will gather evidence surrounding your accident and work tirelessly to build your claim for compensation.
The truck accident lawyers at Buckfire Law specialize in large truck cases and have received the top awards in the legal profession, including:
- The Best Lawyers in America
- National Top 100 Trial Lawyers
- Best Law Firm by U.S. News & World Reports
- 10 Best Michigan Law Firms
- Super Lawyers
How We Help You after the Accident?
Our motor vehicle negligence team will begin our work immediately. We will hire the top investigators and accident reconstruction experts, interview witnesses, and preserve all-important evidence.
We will also help you with your claims for no-fault insurance benefits. Our paralegals will assist you in preparing the required forms, submit them for you, and deal directly with the insurance adjuster to make sure that your medical bills and lost wages are promptly paid.
We take care of everything from start to finish so you can focus on your road to recovery.
If the crash involved a fatality, we will open the probate estate for you and have the necessary paperwork filed at the courthouse.
We will also help you get all bills paid, including funeral and medical expenses, and file a claim for survivors’ loss benefits on your behalf with the insurance company.
Most Common Truck Types Involved in Crashes
When referring to truck accidents, lawyers generally refer to crashes caused by large commercial type trucks.
Commercial trucks are vehicles used for the transport of commercial goods or property and are driven by professional truck drivers for compensation.
While pickups and large SUVs may be considered trucks by the general public, cases referred to as “truck accidents” are for larger vehicles.
The most common types of trucks driven on Michigan roads and interstate highways are:
- Tow trucks
- Garbage & dump trucks
- Tanker trucks
- Concrete mixers
- Construction equipment
- Delivery vehicles
- Log carriers
- Flatbed trailers
- Postal trucks, U-Hauls, Fed Ex & UPS trucks
What is the Definition of a Commercial Vehicle?
A commercial vehicle is a motor vehicle that is used to transport passengers for hire, a truck constructed or used to transport goods and merchandise, or one used to pull other vehicles.
The vehicle must have a weight of more than 10,001 pounds of combined weight, which includes the vehicle weight and any cargo or passengers.
If transporting passengers, it must be used for more than eight passengers, including the driver if used for compensation or more than 15 passengers if there is no compensation. Many buses are classified as commercial vehicles.
What Causes Most Truck Accidents?
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 failures — such as faulty reflectors, lights, and malfunctioning brakes — are common reasons for wrecks. Serious injuries are often caused by tires and other parts falling or flying off the truck while traveling at a high speed.
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 illegal lane changes are also leading causes of crashes.
Drivers are not allowed to use a handheld cell phone while driving a commercial vehicle but can use hands-free phones. However, distracted driving is a major problem with drivers of large trucks.
No matter the cause, the resulting damages inflicted on an accident victim are severe. Many victims suffer catastrophic injuries, like spinal cord and brain injuries. Other crashes cause deaths.
What Should I Do After a Truck Accident?
It is frightening to be in any type of motor vehicle accident, but crashes involving a large truck are even more terrifying.
It is important to remain at the scene after the crash. Leaving the scene, even if there was only property damage, without filing a report can be a criminal offense.
You should stay for the police to arrive so you can give your version of how the accident happened and to exchange information with the other driver.
Many times, the police officer only speaks to the truck driver and your explanation of the facts does not become part of the official report.
If you were injured, getting prompt medical attention is the most important thing.
It is best to wait for EMS to arrive so you can be treated at the scene before being taken to a hospital. Make sure to describe all of your injuries and pains to emergency medical personnel and the police officers.
If your vehicle has significant damage, you should remove personal property before it is towed away.
You should get the names and phone numbers of any eyewitnesses and take photographs of all of the involved vehicles.
You can even take photos of the driver’s license and insurance card of the other driver to prevent any mistakes if you were to just write down the information.
When Should I Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?
It is smart to hire a lawyer that specializes in large truck accidents immediately after the crash.
The trucking company will have its team of investigators on the scene gather evidence within hours. You need your own team of experts at the location to interview witnesses, take photographs, and measure any skid marks or other road markings that were caused by the accident.
In addition, it is very important to have all vehicles inspected as soon as possible.
We hire the top accident reconstruction experts, engineers, and metallurgists to take measurements, photograph property damage, and to preserve any evidence that may prove fault for the crash.
We also will have our investigators download the black box, or event data recorder from all vehicles. This data provides excellent evidence of driver speeds, braking, and actions before and at the time of the crash. This data is often the best evidence to prove and win your case.
While you may be able to settle a small car accident case without an attorney, you definitely need one for a big truck accident case.
The trucking lawyers and insurance adjusters are very sophisticated and begin denying fault and defending the case within a short time after the crash. You do not stand a chance against their team unless you have an experienced truck accident lawyer in your corner.
Serious Injuries Caused by Truck Accidents
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 death.
Along with the physical and emotional trauma suffered by a collision with a semi-truck or 18-wheeler, an injured person will likely incur extensive medical bills and missed time at work.
As a result, the victim should 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.
The pie chart below shows the injury severity frequency of people involved in large truck accidents in Michigan in 2018. Approximately 25% of all truck accidents end in minor injuries, while more than 10% of injuries are deemed as serious.
- Killed: 3.06%
- Possible Injuries: 60.7%
- Suspected Minor Injuries: 25.6%
- Suspected Serious Injuries: 10.6%
Can I Sue for Being Hit by a Truck?
You can sue the truck driver if you were hit by a truck.
To win your case against the driver, the evidence must prove the truck driver drove negligently, carelessly, or violated the rules of the road and caused the accident. Essentially, you must show the trucker was at fault.
You can also sue the trucking company for the crash.
Under Michigan law, the company is automatically liable for the negligence of its employees. In addition, you can sue the company on other grounds such as for mechanical defects, poor training, or falsifying logbooks. The investigation may also prove that the company allowed the driver too much driving time without a break or sleep.
Many times, you can sue the owner of the trailer in addition to the company that employed the driver and owned the cab.
Our legal team will identify all potential parties to include in your lawsuit. This is the best way to maximize your settlement.
Mechanical Defects and Poor Truck Maintenance
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.
Trucking Company Liability Claims
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 is liable.
While any company is supposed to ensure that its drivers are properly trained and can safely handle trucks on the road, companies often fail to provide proper training and supervision.
Many times, the drivers are forced to be behind the wheel for too many hours without a break and have trouble focusing on the road due to fatigue. Other times, they are driving too fast to meet delivery time requirements.
When any of these acts cause a crash, both the driver and company are liable and should be pursued for compensation.
Under Michigan law, the vehicle owner has the same legal responsibility as the trucker involved in the accident. As a result, both are responsible for compensating victims.
Hazardous Material Spills are a Danger
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.
Cargo and Items Falling from Trucks Cause Serious Injuries
You have likely seen large objects in the middle of the highway that has fallen out of a truck or off a flatbed. Cargo, construction materials, logs, and other items travel at high speeds when they fall from a moving vehicle. The weight of those objects traveling at high speeds causes deadly accidents.
In addition, fallen objects laying in the middle of the road are a substantial danger for other drivers.
Many motorists cannot react fast enough to avoid those objects and hit them at high speeds. Other vehicle drivers swerve to avoid an object and either strike another vehicle or leave the roadway.
A trucking company and driver are liable in these circumstances to an injured person. They are required to safely secure all cargo in the vehicle or to the flatbed before entering the roadway.
Motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians are especially vulnerable in these situations.
Do Truck Drivers have Limits on Hours they can Legally Drive?
Yes. There are very specific requirements that set forth the number of hours that a truck driver can drive in a given day and week, as well as the number of hours of rest required between shifts. These hours can vary based upon whether the driver is operating a truck interstate or intrastate.
The purposes of these requirements are to reduce truck driver fatigue and to make sure that the roads and highways are safe for other motorists.
Drivers and truck companies are supposed to log every minute of both drive time and rest, but many times these logs are forged or not kept at all.
Our attorneys will get all of the driving logs to determine whether the driver was on the road too long and without rest as a part of the investigation of your case.
We will closely examine the records to determine if they are accurate or if they have been altered in any way.
What is the Large Truck Speed Limit in Michigan?
Under Public Act 455 of 2016 enacted into law on Jan. 5, 2017, a truck, a truck-tractor, or a truck-tractor with a semi-trailer or trailer can operate at a speed not to exceed 65 mph on a freeway, where the posted speed limit is greater than 65 miles per hour.
Many serious truck accidents are caused by truckers driving in excess of 65 miles per hour which makes it very difficult to control and stop the truck.
A truck, truck-tractor with trailer, or a combination of these vehicles, with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more, cannot exceed a speed of 55 mph on freeways or 60 mph if the speed limit is 70 mph.
Excessive truck speed is a major cause of highway deaths in the United States. The bar chart below shows the number of fatalities in 2017 for crashes at different speed limits involving large trucks in the United States. The denser the red color of the bar, the higher the speed limit is.
The most number of fatalities happen in the 50-55 mph speed limits, more than double the 40-55 mph speed limit and more than all of the previous speed limits combined.
Speed Limit: Deaths
- 25 mph or less: 122
- 30-35 mph: 281
- 40-45 mph: 599
- 50-55 mph: 1,401
- 60-65 mph: 875
- 70-75 mph: 787
- 80-85 mph: 30
- No statutory limit: 49
What are Michigan No-Fault Insurance Benefits?
No-Fault insurance benefits are benefits you are entitled to receive under Michigan law, regardless of fault, if you were injured in an accident that arose out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of an automobile as an automobile, such as a car or truck.
An insurance company cannot deny your benefits if the accident was your fault.
These benefits include wage loss benefits for the first three years after the accident, assistance with household chores for the first three years after the accident, medical expense coverage, mileage to and from doctor appointments, attendant care and other benefits such as home and vehicle modifications.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
Under Michigan law, the time limit to sue the driver and company for a truck crash is three years from the date of the accident. This is known as the Statute of Limitations.
The period is extended longer if the injured person was a minor at the time of the crash. The deadlines for filing no-fault claims for benefits not paid by the insurance company is just one year from the date the expense was incurred.
However, you should not wait long before hiring a lawyer to start your case. If you miss a deadline, your claim to a settlement and your rights to sue will be lost forever.
How Much Do You Get in a Truck Accident Settlement?
In determining the proper amount for a settlement, several factors are considered by the lawyers and insurance companies.
There is no schedule or guideline for determining the amount, but rather the skill and experience of your attorney are what will get you the best settlement. Because every case is completely different, there is no real “average” or “typical” settlement amount for truck accidents.
The factors include the:
- Degree of the negligence of all parties in the crash.
- The seriousness of the injuries, such as a brain injury, spinal cord injury, or bone fractures.
- The manner in which the injuries have affected the person’s normal life and activities.
- Psychological and emotional trauma resulting from the crash and injuries.
- The permanence of any scars and disfigurements.
- Type of medical treatments, surgeries, and rehabilitation resulting from the collision.
- Loss of income, wages, and earning capacity suffered by the victim.
- Insurance policy limits for the trucking company and truck driver.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits for Fatal Truck Accidents
When a truck accident results in the death of another motorist, passenger, bicyclist, or pedestrian, surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. These cases seek damages for conscious pain and suffering from the time of accident until death, the loss of society and companionship of surviving family members, loss of income and support, and other economic damages.
The lawsuit can be brought by a family member of the decedent and is filed on behalf of the entire family.
The person bringing the suit is appointed as the Personal Representative of the estate for the purposes of filing the case, but all family members have rights in the suit. The parties need a judge to approve the settlement and the amount of the settlement shares for each family member.
Do Trucks have Large Liability Insurance Policies?
Federal law requires commercial trucks traveling in interstate commerce to carry $750,000 of insurance for bodily injury and property damage.
Michigan has adopted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules and regulations to govern its commercial trucks, so the insurance standard applies in Michigan. Many trucking companies have much larger policies or additional policies as well.
Examples of Settlements in Truck Accident Cases
- $11,900,000 fatal truck accident settlement for multiple passengers by a speeding truck.
- $8,000,000 truck accident settlement for two-car passengers who suffered brain injuries.
- $7,000,000 Lansing area settlement in a semi-truck crash with multiple victims
- $4,950,000 settlement for a car driver with a closed head injury and orthopedic injuries.
- $4,900,000 settlement for a tractor-trailer rear-end accident in Michigan.
- $3,035,000 wrongful death settlement against a trucking company in the Detroit area
- $2,000,000 settlement for a man in a jackknife accident with a tractor-trailer in West Michigan
- $1,800,000 settlement for a client who was struck by a semi-truck on I-94 near Detroit.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Trucking Accident Attorney?
It does not cost anything to hire our truck accident lawyers. We do not charge any fees to start your case and we only get paid when you receive your settlement check at the end of the case. This is called a contingency fee agreement.
Under this arrangement, we also pay all of the case expenses and get a percentage of the settlement at the very end of the case when your check is received.
Do you Have to Pay your Lawyer if you Lose your Case?
No. Under our contingent fee agreement, there are no legal fees if the case is unsuccessful and you do not receive a settlement. You owe us nothing.
What is my Case Worth?
To find out what your case is worth, call our award-winning truck accident attorneys right now.
We will listen to your story and begin our investigation immediately. Once we get a full picture of the accident and the resulting injuries, we will give you our best opinion on what your case is worth.
We will then work hard to win you the highest possible settlement or verdict.
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