Steve Matz and his team have been practicing law in Michigan for decades. They’ve logged hundreds of thousands of miles traveling to virtually every county in Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas, meeting with clients, and doing the work necessary to earn significant settlements on their clients’ behalf.
When semi-trucks crash, they can cause massive damage. Most commercial vehicles weigh over 30,000 pounds. A big rig can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. With that much mass, truck accidents can cause catastrophic injuries or wrongful death. Your family can end up reeling in the fallout of such a catastrophe. If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of negligence by a truck driver or trucking company, you have the right to receive fair compensation for your losses. A well-funded insurance company, however, stands between you and your rights. You do not have to go through this fight alone. The Matz Injury Law truck accident attorneys serving Grand Rapids have years of experience representing accident victims in injury claims and lawsuits. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Car accidents and truck accidents in Grand Rapids can have many of the same kinds of causes, as discussed in more detail below. Human error is often a factor, but the circumstances are often different for truck accidents than for other kinds of motor vehicle accidents. Because of the sheer size and mass of commercial trucks, many motorist errors that might cause limited damage in a car or motorcycle accident can cause catastrophic injuries if a truck is involved. Truck drivers must take extra care when turning, merging, and slowing down. Failing to do any of these properly can be devastating to the truck and other vehicles around it.
As mentioned above, some semi-truck accidents are the result of unsafe driving by others on the road, not the truckers involved in the crashes. Truck drivers can also be responsible for collisions, of course, for a variety of reasons.
Michigan law defines “reckless driving” as the operation of a motor vehicle “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” This definition applies to the actual offense of reckless driving, which could be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the harm caused. In Grand Rapids truck accident cases, “reckless driving” includes a wide range of unsafe acts like speeding, running red lights or stop signs, and trying to pass another vehicle unlawfully.
Michigan prohibits texting and other uses of handheld mobile devices while driving. Even before cell phones, though, distracted drivers caused auto accidents. Truck drivers are no different. They can take their eyes or minds off the road to do things like look at a smartphone or tune a radio.
Poor road conditions can cause all kinds of motor vehicle accidents. Debris on the road could cause one vehicle to swerve into another. Inadequate road maintenance could create potholes and other hazards.
Grand Rapids, Michigan is no stranger to bad weather. Rain, snow, sleet, and other bad weather can cause visibility problems and make the road extra dangerous. Tractor-trailer wheels can throw water and ice onto vehicles behind them, creating further hazards.
Many 18-wheeler accidents are the result of improper cargo loading:
Either situation can cause severe car accidents.
Trucking companies expect truckers to keep tight schedules, often resulting in long hours on the road. Driver fatigue can be a serious danger to others. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers that limit the total amount of time they may drive before they must rest. Unfortunately, many trucking companies and drivers ignore these rules.
Michigan law sets a time limit for when you can file a truck accident lawsuit, known as the statute of limitations. You must file a lawsuit within three years of the date of the accident. If you do not file by this deadline, the court will dismiss your case and you may have no other options.
Michigan’s no-fault law, which allows you to recover compensation from your own insurance company no matter who was at fault in the accident, also sets a time limit. You must make a claim within one year of the accident in order to receive no-fault insurance benefits from your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
After a truck crash in Grand Rapids, you may be eligible to receive two types of damages, depending on your case: economic and non-economic damages. These are both types of “compensatory damages,” since their purpose is to compensate you for the losses you have suffered.
Some states also allow accident victims to recover punitive damages in order to punish a defendant for serious wrongdoing. Most truck accident cases involve negligence, however, and state law does not allow punitive damages in negligence cases. It only allows plaintiffs to claim punitive damages for injuries that result from a defendant’s “malicious,” “willful,” or “wanton” conduct.
Economic damages compensate you for your economic losses. You may recover many of these losses from your PIP insurance coverage. If the amount of damages exceeds your insurance policy’s PIP limits, you may be able to recover the rest from a truck driver, trucking company, or other at-fault parties.
Examples of economic damages resulting from a truck accident may include:
You can prove economic damages fairly easily by producing documents like medical bills and wage statements.
Non-economic damages are more subjective than economic damages. They attempt to compensate accident victims for the effects their injuries have had on their quality of life.
“Pain and suffering” is a common type of non-economic damage. It provides compensation for both physical and emotional pain resulting from truck accident injuries. Many forms of physical pain can endure long after your medical care, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and other forms of treatment are complete after an accident. You may experience emotional or psychological pain, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An accident that caused disfigurement or scarring can cause both physical pain and psychological distress.
This kind of damage is not something you can put on a bill or invoice. Proving non-economic damages often requires the assistance of a skilled Michigan truck accident lawyer who can tell the jury a story about how a truck driver’s negligence caused you millions of dollars of pain and distress.
You can talk to the trucking company’s insurance adjuster after the accident. That is to say that no law prohibits you from speaking to one another. Remember, though, that the insurance adjuster’s job is to get you to either:
Neither of these options benefits you. There is a better way to handle it.
While you and the insurance company are legally free to speak to one another, you do not have to speak to them. You will eventually have to make a statement as part of the insurance claim process, but you have time to speak to an attorney first.
Insurance companies know many ways to avoid paying the maximum compensation owed to accident victims. Given the chance, they will try to trick you into saying something that sounds incriminating in order to make it look like you are to blame for the accident. The more you appear to be at fault, the less the insurance company has to pay. If they can establish that you are more at fault than the trucker — i.e., that 51% or more of the fault is yours — they will not have to pay you anything under Michigan law. You can avoid their traps by not speaking to them.
If you do speak to the insurance company before you have hired a personal injury attorney, keep your comments to them simple and short. Do not apologize for your part in the accident or speculate about what might have happened. All you need to tell them is that you either have an attorney or you will be retaining one soon.
Your attorney, once you have hired them, can handle communications with the insurance company. They can present the evidence that supports your claim and negotiate with the adjuster to try to reach a settlement agreement. If they cannot come to an agreement, your lawyer will know how to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit.
If you have suffered injuries in an 18-wheeler accident, dealing with insurance companies and truck accident claims is probably one of the last things on your mind. You might still be receiving medical care and worrying about how you can pay your bills after missing so much work. You might still be feeling traumatized by being involved in a car crash with a big rig, and you are in no place to try negotiating with an insurance adjuster.
You might have been too injured after the accident to gather evidence at the scene, collect contact information from witnesses, and take other steps to prepare for a personal injury claim. Even if you are feeling better now, you might not know how to start collecting evidence.
An experienced truck accident lawyer serving Grand Rapids can help you. They know how to obtain evidence like police reports, witness statements, and medical bills. They can act as the go-between for you and the insurance companies to protect your legal rights while you focus on recovering from your injuries and getting back to your life.
Truck accidents can cause severe and debilitating injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, disfigurement, and more. You need a law firm with extensive experience helping Grand Rapids truck accident victims recover the maximum compensation owed to them under Michigan law. You need a personal injury lawyer who will fight for you at the negotiating table and, if necessary, in the courtroom. Matz Injury Law is the law firm that you need.
$360,000 settlement on behalf of a 28 year-old dairy worker who suffered a separated shoulder.
$400,000 for a vacationing motorist whose SUV was struck by a pickup truck that crossed the center line on an icy northern Michigan road.
$600,000 settlement for a mild closed head injury victim.
$170,000 settlement for a construction worker who suffered a shoulder injury when struck by a driver on an icy road in Clare County.
$200,000 settlement on behalf of a young woman who suffered leg and foot fractures after an automobile/pedestrian collision.
$200,000 settlement in a rural county for a 4 year-old who died as a result of a truck/pedestrian collision.
$350,000 to a woman who suffered a broken arm when her vehicle was struck by a semi.
$825,000 settlement on behalf of a 25 year-old man in a rural county with a peroneal nerve injury as a consequence of an automobile/truck collision.
$290,000 for a 70 year-old woman whose car was broadsided by a driver who claimed he had the green light at an intersection.
$200,000 (policy limit) settlement for the wrongful death of a recent immigrant.