Truck accidents can be devastating when they happen, causing bodily harm and property damage. The injuries you or a loved one sustain can last a lifetime and lead to pain and suffering as well as a lower quality of life.
Financial hardship may result for you and your family as well, which may be either short-term or long-term. Hiring a truck accident attorney can help make sure your compensation is equal to that of your injuries and allow you to get back to your life as soon as possible.
Determining fault in any accident is essential. Collection of evidence is necessary in order to establish who caused the accident and who is liable. In a semi-truck accident, this will look a little different due to a variety of unique factors, including the fact that they will have logbooks due to US trucking regulations.
While Michigan is a no-fault auto insurance state, meaning your insurer should pay some compensation without regard to who the responsible parties are for the accident, you can make a claim against the driver or truck company if they are at fault.
Also, there may be more than one party liable for the accident, and a truck accident lawyer can help sort out the details and know how to move forward with your injury claim.
Steps to take in determining fault in a tractor-trailer truck accident in Michigan include the following.
Gathering evidence is a critical first step, and knowing what evidence is needed is essential. One type to include will be photographs or videos of the accident site, showing it from different angles. You will also want to include photos of any stop signs or other items that may be important to your personal injury case.
You should also take photos or videos of the damage to your motor vehicle and the surrounding property, as well as any debris on the roadway from other passenger cars or structures.
Make sure to secure truck driver and company/employer records to review and serve as evidence. An analysis of the driver’s logbooks is essential, as is that of the driving record and human resources file, which may include past safety violations.
Trucking companies must meet higher safety standards, with specific regulations in place to govern their actions and operations. Created and implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, these rules and regulations intend to help make the roads safer for everyone.
One important FMCSA restriction focuses on the number of hours any truck driver can drive per day and also the total number of hours driven per week. It is in place to ensure drivers stay rested and remain able to drive safely.
In cases where you are incapacitated or unsure how to proceed in gathering all this evidence, an attorney experienced with truck accidents can help, knowing what is needed and where to look for it.
You will also need to identify and interview witnesses. These witnesses may include others involved in the same accident, those who saw it, bystanders, and even first responders.
It is best to find and interview these witnesses as early as possible following the accident when the memories are still fresh.
In truck accident cases, it is highly beneficial to bring in experts. One example of this is to hire one or more accident reconstructionists. These experts can reconstruct different parts of the accident, including factors leading up to it, such as rain and slippery roads.
In addition, your case may benefit from other expert witnesses, such as medical professionals and even forensic toxicologists. With them, your claim is stronger.
Your attorney will know where to find these experts and will work with them to reconstruct your accident and identify the resulting medical issues.
A physical examination of the truck can provide solid clues as to why the accident happened, placing the driver or the trucking company at fault. Was there any equipment defect? Did a part of the truck fail, such as the brakes?
The mechanical condition is an imperative part of your case and in proving who is liable. If the truck has a black box or data recorder, that can also serve as evidence.
While many factors can lead to crashes, the most common causes of truck crashes today include:
Reckless driving is a common cause of vehicle accidents and can include speeding and unsafe lane changes. It also includes distracted driving, which may include texting, talking on the phone, or reaching for something while driving.
While truck drivers are on the job when these accidents happen, that does not mean you can rule out alcohol or other drug usage. Some truck drivers count on something to keep them awake and alert while driving those long hours, and this can include a series of substances that pose a danger to other drivers.
Truck driving is a high-pressure job with deliveries and deadlines to meet. Some of these deadlines are short, and that means the driver will take few breaks and drive long distances to make the delivery in time. Too little quality sleep and breaks along the way can lead to extreme driver fatigue, which can result in a loss of concentration, reaction time, and coordination.
Requirements exist for trucking companies to continually inspect and maintain large trucks. However, these actions do not always happen for a variety of reasons, including the time and costs involved. For example, delivery deadlines can interfere with the scheduling of routine maintenance. As a result, there is a higher chance of experiencing equipment failure while out on the road.
Training is imperative when it comes to driving the big rigs, especially on roadways with other passenger vehicles. Truckers need to know how to respond to challenging situations and avoid accidents whenever possible, including when hauling hazardous materials.
Lack of this training, or being poorly trained, puts the trucker and other motorists at a higher risk and can lead to accidents.
Road conditions play another role in accidents. These conditions can be wet or icy roadways which can lead to skidding or hydroplaning. Potholes and other structural issues can be dangerous as well.
Due to the weight and size of large commercial vehicles, injuries in accidents can be severe. The most common truck accident injuries include:
Head injuries occurring as a result of a truck and car accident can be mild to extremely severe. Lacerations to the face and scalp, causing disfigurement, are considered mild but still damaging. Blunt trauma or whiplash can lead to concussions and more serious conditions such as swelling or bleeding in the brain.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) physically damage the brain, and you may or may not be able to fully recover from them.
Broken bones are another common injury sustained during a truck accident. These can be in the form of cracks or all the way to compound fractures with the bone puncturing the skin and becoming exposed. You may even require one or more surgeries, which may include the insertion of screws, pins, or rods.
Broken bones also can cause internal injuries, lead to infection, and result in deformity or amputation without immediate medical attention.
In any car accident involving a commercial truck, death can occur to accident victims. In 2020 alone, there were over 4,800 fatal crashes involving large trucks.
All too often, spinal injuries occur in truck crashes. Back or neck injuries can be severe. Spinal cord damage can result in paralysis, either total or partial. Such a severe injury leaves you or a loved one restricted in capabilities and may require daily assistance.
A truck accident injury involving the spinal cord is devasting, and although compensation may not make you whole again, it can help alleviate some of the financial burdens you may experience.
It can be stressful, intimidating, and challenging to deal with insurance adjusters, especially after an accident. They will come off as friendly in order to make you think they have your best interests in mind. However, ultimately, their goal is to tempt you with a low offer and expect you to accept it willingly.
Before talking with an insurance adjuster, know that you are not legally required to do so. If you do speak with them, be brief and do not admit any fault, make apologies, or guess at the cause.
Instead, hire an attorney with experience in truck accident cases and in dealing with insurance companies.
If you or a passenger suffered serious injuries as the result of this type of crash, filing an insurance claim to obtain compensation to pay medical care expenses will be important. To help with this, you will need to understand PIP benefits and also time limits for filing. Your lawyer can help with this as well.
When it comes to compensation, insurance companies will present lower offers than you deserve. An attorney with your best interest at heart will try to get you the highest amount of compensation possible for your particular circumstances, including for the following.
Medical expenses can quickly accumulate following an accident. Your personal injury attorneys will be able to review your medical treatment bills and add them to your claim, as well as any future medical costs.
Following an accident, you may need time to recover. If so, you will be unable to return to your work right away and will need to claim lost wages.
If, as a result of your injury and resulting medical care, you incur future income loss, your attorney can seek compensation for this specifically. Your truck accident legal team will calculate this for you and add it to the claim.
You may be eligible for compensation relating to physical or emotional pain and suffering as a result of the auto accident and your injuries.
In accidents involving big trucks, damage to property can be extreme. Recoverable damages for such issues may include vehicle repair costs, the change in the vehicle’s value, loss of use, or in many cases, a total loss. The loss of any personal property during the accident may also be part of your claim.
If you suffer a truck accident injury, you need legal representation to ensure you receive the compensation you need and deserve. Three main reasons, in particular, as to why you should hire a truck accident lawyer are as follows.
Truck accidents result in complicated claims, requiring the efficient gathering of evidence. Trucking companies do not have to retain their records indefinitely, so you need to act quickly. Your lawyer will know how to act and obtain the records and evidence needed for your case.
Also, if you are incapacitated as a result of the accident and need to focus on your recovery, your attorney can get to work for you gathering the evidence.
Your attorney will talk with the insurance adjusters on your behalf and work to obtain the highest settlement possible. These adjusters use strategies to offer lower amounts than you deserve, and knowing how to negotiate with them will be highly beneficial to your claim.
Your attorney is on your side, working for your best interests, and this translates into seeking the highest compensation available for your circumstances. In addition, your lawyer understands the legal process and jargon in case your lawsuit goes to court.
Being involved in a truck accident can be devastating, and you need to know you are not alone. Matz Injury Law can help you gather relevant evidence, work with insurance adjusters on your behalf, and diligently work to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
The law firm of Matz Injury Law has the experience you need when it comes to truck accident settlements, including earning over $300 million for our Michigan clients already. We serve clients from across the state including Ann Arbor, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Flint, Battle Creek, Rochester and more.