According to the Michigan State Police, there were more than 15,000 crashes that involved trucks or buses in the state for the most recent year for which data was reported. Of those, 2,662 involved an injury and another 113 were fatal. This means that thousands of lives were devastated or lost – in just one year.
Determining who is liable for the injuries and property damage stemming from such an accident is vital to your recovery. The aggressive truck accident attorneys at Christensen Law know how important it is to identify the party or parties who are responsible for the accident. We will investigate your claim and substantiate your right to compensation with compelling evidence.
If you’ve been involved in a semi-truck accident in Detroit or anywhere else in Michigan, don’t hesitate to get started on pursuing the compensation you deserve. Contact Christensen Law today for a free legal review. There is no fee unless we win.
Truck Accidents vs. Car Accidents
Despite both occurring on the road, truck accidents and subsequent lawsuits are quite different from automobile accidents, for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, truck accidents often result in more serious injuries than car accidents. While a typical sedan weighs about 3,000 pounds and a typical SUV weighs about 5,000 to 6,000 pounds, a semi-truck connected to a trailer weighs around 30,000 pounds – unloaded. If the trailer is full, the combined truck and trailer may weigh up to 80,000 pounds.
This additional weight means that the impact from a truck brings a lot more force than even the largest SUVs. Semi-trucks also sit higher off the ground than cars and SUVs, so they hit people and their vehicles in more vulnerable areas. The greater impact force, combined with the higher point of impact, results in far more serious injuries than a typical car accident.
The other major difference between car accidents and semi-truck accidents are the parties involved. If a semi is involved in an accident while the driver is making a delivery, the driver’s employer can be held liable for your injuries. However, large trucking companies also have much greater financial resources than individual drivers. They’re also much more likely to put up a fight when you try to recover compensation. To prove that the company was liable and get the money you deserve, you’ll need help from an experienced and aggressive truck accident attorney.
Who Is Liable: The Company/Motor Carrier or The Truck Driver?
Establishing who is liable for your injuries is crucial if you’re trying to recover compensation after a truck accident. While they are not the only potentially liable parties, the truck driver and the trucking company are most commonly held liable in a semi-truck collision. However, it is often extremely difficult to determine which of these parties to pursue a claim against.
Truck drivers need to be especially careful on the road because they’re handling large, unwieldy vehicles that can wreak havoc in a crash. If truck drivers are not careful and cause a collision, they can be held liable for the resulting injuries. Some driver-related causes of truck accidents include:
- Driving while drunk or impaired by drugs
- Driving while fatigued, possibly by not taking their required rest breaks
- Driving while distracted
- Inexperienced drivers
- Lack of proper training
While the truck driver is usually the primary cause of a crash, their employers often share the blame. Trucking companies and motor carriers are required to hire drivers who have the experience and training to handle these kinds of vehicles. They are also required to monitor their drivers for reckless driving behaviors, make sure drivers take their required breaks, and maintain their vehicles. If a semi-truck crash occurs during the scope of a driver’s employment, the trucking company can be held liable for any injuries that result. Some of the employer-related causes of truck accidents include:
- Failing to make sure drivers get enough rest
- Failing to run proper background checks on truck drivers
- Hiring drivers who are inexperienced or don’t have the proper training
- Not investigating complaints against reckless or negligent drivers
Proving the Truck Driver Was at Fault
In order to prove liability in a truck accident case, you or your attorney will need the right kind of evidence. Evidence that can help demonstrate fault in a truck accident case includes:
- The police report about the accident
- Eyewitness testimony
- Photos or video from nearby traffic cameras or surveillance cameras
- Data from the truck’s electronic data recorder
- The truck driver’s daily logs
- Training records and other documents from the driver’s employer
- Annual inspection reports
- Maintenance/repair logs
- Roadside inspection reports
The more evidence you have, the stronger your case against the driver and their employer. An experienced truck accident lawyer can take steps to preserve evidence that can help you establish your claim.
Can Product Liability Be Responsible for the Truck Accident?
Semi-trucks are complicated machines that rely on thousands of moving parts. It’s not uncommon for a mechanical failure to play a role in semi-truck accidents. For example, if there’s a problem with the truck’s brakes, it may not be able to stop in time to avoid a crash. If a mechanical failure or defect is to blame for a truck accident, the manufacturer of the truck or the parts manufacturer may be responsible for the losses you suffered.
However, Michigan’s product liability law may make it more difficult for you to recover the compensation you deserve. This aspect of truck accident liability only holds non-manufacturing
importers and sellers of dangerous or defective products liable if they failed to exercise reasonable care related to the product and this failure was a proximate cause of your injuries. When trying to meet this strict threshold, it is important that you have a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer on your side.
What If There are Multiple Cars Involved in the Accident?
If there are multiple vehicles involved in a truck accident, the case becomes even more complicated, but the basic legal principles do not change. Michigan uses the doctrine of “comparative negligence” in personal injury lawsuits, which means that multiple defendants will pay out compensation according to their percentage of fault in an accident.
For example, a court or insurance company may determine that a truck driver is 75 percent responsible for an accident and that the driver of a passenger car was 25 percent at fault. This means that the truck driver will pay out 75 percent of the compensation you’re owed. The other car driver will pay 25 percent. A truck accident attorney can provide more information on the intricacies of multi-car crashes.
How to Get Compensation for Injuries in a Truck Accident
Michigan is a no-fault state for car and truck accidents, so before you can file a lawsuit, you’ll have to exhaust your other options for recovering compensation for your injuries. Your first option is the personal injury protection (PIP) benefits under your auto insurance. The amount you can receive in PIP benefits will vary depending on the terms of your policy.
While PIP benefits will cover your medical expenses and lost wages, they will not cover compensation for losses that are not dollar-for-dollar reimbursements, such as pain and suffering. You must file your initial application for PIP benefits within one year of the date of the accident if you want to recover any compensation. You may have to file a lawsuit if your insurance company does not pay according to the terms of your policy.
If the benefits of your auto insurance policy do not cover the full extent of your injuries after an accident, you may have the option to file a third-party lawsuit against the party or parties who are liable for the accident. You will need to provide evidence that the truck driver, their employer, or another third party was responsible for the crash and the injuries you sustained.
Though third-party lawsuits can be difficult to win, they offer additional opportunities for recovering compensation. In a third-party accident suit, you can be compensated for pain and suffering and other losses that are not covered by no-fault PIP benefits.
How Christensen Law Can Help You Win Your Truck Accident Case
In the aftermath of a commercial truck accident, your health and your future may be on the line. With so much at stake, you need a lawyer who you can trust to help you get the fair compensation the at-fault party owes you. This money could be critical to paying your bills, recouping lost wages, repairing or replacing your vehicle, and otherwise assist you with rebuilding your life after the crash.
By fearlessly advocating for our clients, we’ve helped recover millions of dollars to cover our clients’ medical bills, lost earnings and other expenses, and pain and suffering damages related to their truck accidents. We’re also highly respected by our peers. We’ve earned a “preeminent” rating from Martindale-Hubbell and recognition from the National Trial Lawyers as one of their Top 100 law firms.
We are dedicated to helping you recover fair compensation by using our decades of legal experience and in-depth knowledge of trucking accident laws. When you hire us, you won’t have to worry about how you’ll afford our services. We will represent you on a contingency-fee-basis, which means you won’t owe us anything until we recover compensation for your injury case.
Our team is ready to defend your right to proper compensation. Call us today or visit our contact page to learn more and get a free case evaluation. You can schedule an appointment with one of our skilled truck accident attorneys at our Detroit office, located across the street from The Guardian Building.