Commercial trucks are powerhouses on Michigan roads. Unfortunately, they can also be a serious hazard to neighboring motorists.
Due to their massive size and weight, trucks can cause significant injuries to others if an accident occurs. Sadly, these types of crashes happen far too often in The Wolverine State. The Michigan State Police reports that there were 13,818 large truck accidents in a recent year, resulting in 2,313 injuries and more than 100 deaths.
After a collision, there are several steps that victims can take to protect their legal rights and any future injury claim they wish to file. Read on for advice from the experienced attorneys at Christensen Law for what to do after a semi-truck accident in Michigan.
If you or a loved one has already has been injured in a crash, you need personalized legal advice. Call or contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable Michigan semi-truck accident lawyer.
Important Things to Do After a Michigan Truck Wreck
Truck accidents can be very disorienting. You may be in pain or feeling confused in the moments after the crash. If you’re able, our lawyers suggest taking these steps to protect yourself.
- Seek medical attention: Your health is the most important priority after a crash. Call 911 immediately for medical help. Even if you don’t feel hurt, you should report to an emergency room or see your doctor right away to rule out any “hidden” injuries, such as internal bleeding.
- Report the accident: Under Michigan law, you must report any accident that involves injury, death, or property damage over $1,000. The chances are good that a truck accident will result in at least one of these, so it is crucial that you contact the police right away. A police report will also include the responding officer’s opinion over who is at fault for the collision and can be submitted to the insurance company with your claim.
- Gather names/insurance information: Exchange contact information, insurance information, and driver’s license numbers with the truck driver and anyone else involved in the crash. If there were witnesses, ask for their information as well.
- Document the scene: Take photos of the vehicles involved in the truck accident from multiple angles. Also include pictures of your injuries and any other environmental evidence that could be important to your claim, such as skid marks, traffic signs, or debris in the road.
- Contact a Michigan semi-truck accident lawyer: Michigan is a no-fault auto insurance state, which means your insurer should provide some compensation regardless of who is responsible for the crash. However, the trucking industry is governed by federal and state laws that are different from those that apply to traditional car accidents. In addition, multiple parties may be held liable after a tractor-trailer collision. A skilled lawyer can investigate what happened in the accident and ensure that your claim is handled accurately and fairly.
- Call your insurance company: Check your car insurance policy for its notification requirements. You don’t want to miss out on compensation because of a missed deadline. As a general rule, you should report the crash as soon as possible. A lawyer can take care of this step for you to prevent you from accidentally saying something that jeopardizes your claim.
The information you collect after a truck accident can make a great deal of difference when it comes to the outcome of your case. Do the best you can, but rest assured that a top truck accident attorney will know what is needed to build a strong case for you.
I Was Too Injured to Get Details. What Now?
Truck accidents have the potential to cause catastrophic injuries. Don’t stress if you were unable to collect details after the crash. You still have rights. But now, it’s more important than ever to work with a seasoned truck accident lawyer.
An attorney will conduct a thorough investigation into your truck accident claim. He or she can:
- Review your auto insurance policy and notify the insurer of the accident.
- Collect the evidence needed to support your case. This may include requesting information that is difficult for private individuals to collect, such as a truck driver’s cell phone records, truck company documents, or video surveillance from nearby businesses.
- Identify everyone who could be held responsible for the wreck. Potential defendants might include the truck driver, trucking company, cargo loading company, mechanics, parts manufacturers, government entities, and more.
- Gather the medical records, pay stubs, and other documentation needed to prove the full extent of your losses.
- Interview witnesses.
- Handle talks with insurance adjusters so that you don’t have to.
With the help of a qualified lawyer, you can focus on getting back to the most important thing after a semi-truck accident — rest and rehabilitation.
Should I Seek Medical Treatment Even If I Am Not Injured?
You may not feel hurt after you’ve been involved in a crash. The human body releases a stress hormone called adrenaline that can mask a person’s sensation of pain or perception of injury. In addition, symptoms of some serious injuries, like concussions, may not emerge until hours, days, or even months after a wreck. For this reason, you should see a doctor right away, even if you feel fine.
A doctor will conduct a thorough examination and identify any injuries that you sustained, even if you were unaware of them. You can then receive treatment immediately to prevent your injuries from becoming worse.
Seeing a physician right away has a legal benefit, too. Failure to seek prompt medical attention could enable the insurance company to argue that you weren’t really hurt since you didn’t get help right away. An insurer might also contend that another incident that occurred after the crash is actually the cause of your injuries. Without medical documentation linking your injury to the truck accident, these arguments could hurt your case.
What to Say to the Truck Company’s Insurance Adjuster
It’s likely that a representative from the truck company’s insurance company will call you immediately following the accident —perhaps while you are still in the hospital. This is a tactic commonly used to get you to settle for less money than you deserve.
Though it can be tempting to accept a quick settlement and put the truck accident behind you, don’t do it. There is simply no way to know the extent of your injuries in the hours after the crash. Settle too soon, and you may find that you won’t have nearly enough money to cover your losses and medical costs.
Here’s what you need to know about talking to the insurance company:
- You are not legally obligated to talk to the truck company’s adjuster. There may come a time when you need to make a statement, but a lawyer can handle the majority of the communications with an adjuster after a crash.
- If you do talk to the adjuster, keep it short. Don’t make apologies for the crash or guess about what happened. Simply tell the adjuster that you will be contacting a lawyer. If you already are working with a truck accident attorney, provide the adjuster with the law firm’s contact information and direct all questions there.
- Beware of other insurance company tricks. Adjusters for insurance companies are among the best in the business. They’re trained in strategies used to minimize their own liability and push the blame onto you. No matter how friendly they sound, don’t comply with any requests until you’ve spoken to a lawyer.
When Should I Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?
It’s always advisable to contact an attorney right away after a truck accident. These complicated claims take time to investigate, and trucking companies are not required to retain all of their records indefinitely. Waiting too long may mean missing out on valuable evidence that could be vital to your case.
The statute of limitations for truck accidents in Michigan is three years. This means that you have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim. However, you must file a claim for no-fault benefits with your own insurance company within one year in order to remain eligible for your personal injury protection (PIP) benefits.
How Christensen Law Can Help You Win Your Semi-Truck Accident Case
You are rightfully entitled to compensation after a semi-truck accident, but getting the money you’re owed can be a difficult undertaking. Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. A Michigan truck accident lawyer at Christensen Law will stand by your side and fight for the justice you deserve.
Our accomplished team of lawyers have obtained record-setting verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients throughout Michigan. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.