Why You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer in Michigan
Commercial truck accident claims are often governed by complex state and federal laws. That’s why you should contact us as soon as possible if you or a loved one is injured in a semi-truck crash.
Our experienced truck accident lawyers will protect your legal rights and help you receive the compensation you and your family deserve. What’s more, research shows victims who hire qualified accident attorneys achieve far better financial outcomes than those who represent themselves. Injured parties that are represented by legal counsel obtain far greater recoveries than individuals who chose to represent themselves.
In 2019, there were 15,798 motor vehicle accidents in Michigan involving at least one large truck or commercial bus. In these crashes, 106 people were killed and another 3,685 were injured. There were approximately 1,000 more truck and bus accidents in 2019 than in the preceding year. Most of these accidents occurred when a truck or bus collided with a passenger car, van or SUV.
How Our Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys Will Help You
If you are injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to significant compensation. However, you have a limited amount of time to claim the benefits you are entitled to, and the clock starts ticking from the date of your accident. Our skilled truck accident attorneys will handle every aspect of the legal process so you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
Furthermore, insurance representatives often try to pressure victims to accept a hasty and sub-standard settlement. And, many people are tempted to accept these "low-ball" offers because they may not understand their rights under Michigan No-Fault law. In addition, you may not know the full extent of your injuries until weeks or even months after the accident. If you sign insurance papers too soon, you will lose your right to claim the compensation you deserve. Therefore, it’s important to contact us before you speak to an insurance adjuster or sign any papers.
Liability Issues Regarding Truck Accidents in Michigan
Injury claims for commercial truck accidents are handled differently than claims for standard passenger car accidents.
One major difference is that multiple parties may be responsible for a truck accident. In addition to filing suit against the insurer of the at-fault driver, a victim may also be able to sue the trucking company for "vicarious liability." This means an employer may be held responsible for the actions of employees who are performing their job duties.
Furthermore, in a drunk driving case, the trucking company may also be liable if they failed to perform a proper background check that might have revealed a record of previous offenses.
Typically, the company that owns the truck will have higher liability coverage than the individual driver. If so, you may be entitled to a larger settlement. However, sorting out who is responsible and filing multiple claims is complex and time-consuming. That’s why you should contact our team of truck injury lawyers immediately if you’ve been injured in a truck accident.
Frequently Asked Questions About Commercial Truck Accidents
How does the new No-Fault law impact my truck accident case?
No-Fault insurance basically means what the name implies. If you are injured in an accident, your own insurance policy covers your medical expenses and other related costs even if you were at fault. These are considered first-party benefits, which include Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Protection Insurance (PPI).
However, Michigan No-Fault law underwent sweeping reforms in 2019, many of which took effect July 1, 2020. Prior to that date, every Michigan No-Fault policy included unlimited lifetime medical benefits, including rehabilitation and home care. However, after July 1, 2020 policyholder can choose from a variety of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) medical benefit levels. Vehicle owners can keep their previous unlimited lifetime medical benefits, choose a lesser amount ($500,000, $250,000 or $50,000 for Medicaid recipients), or opt out of PIP medical coverage if they have Medicare or other qualified health coverage.
Other PIP benefits, which did not change under the new law, cover up to 85% of lost wages and $20/day for replacement services (such as housework and lawn care) for up to three years.
Because these cases involve complex legal issues, you need a truck accident lawyer with extensive experience and a thorough knowledge of Michigan’s No-Fault laws. In addition to a winning track record, we have the necessary expertise and resources to ensure you receive the settlement you deserve. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
To learn more, visit the following link to view and download our Michigan No-Fault Law resources.
How long after a truck accident can I file a claim?
Michigan has a strict statute of limitations for filing claims or lawsuits following a motor vehicle accident. If you fail to meet the prescribed deadlines, you may lose your right to receive the compensation you are entitled to.
In general, accident victims have one year from the date of the accident to file a claim for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. This includes reimbursement for expenses such as wage loss, medical bills, attendant care, mileage, lost wages and replacement services. Medical and related expenses are limited to the amount of PIP medical benefits selected by the policyholder. Lost wages and replacement services are covered for up to three years.
Moreover, victims have three years from the date of an accident to file a claim for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. This timeline also applies to lawsuits filed to recoup excess economic losses such as medical expenses that exceed the driver’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) medical coverage limit. These third-party benefits, which can be substantial, are typically paid by the insurer of the driver that caused the accident. In Michigan, victims are entitled to these damages only if they were less than 50% at fault for the accident.
In addition, minors have until one year after their 18th birthday to file a claim, regardless of when the accident occurred. There are other exceptions for military personnel, mentally incapacitated individuals and survivors of those killed in a car accident.
However, to make the strongest case, it’s important to begin as soon as possible while witnesses and evidence are still available. Contact our experienced legal team today for a free consultation so we can help you win the compensation you deserve.
What do I need to win my truck accident case?
Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering typically comprise the most substantial part of an accident settlement. To collect these damages, a victim must prove they have suffered a "threshold injury," which Michigan law defines as: "...death, serious impairment of body function, or permanent serious disfigurement."
However, a plaintiff does not have to meet the threshold to claim excess economic loss damages. These include medical expenses or lost wages that exceed the amounts covered by the victim’s No-Fault Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits.
It is common for the insurance company and their attorneys to avoid responsibility by asserting an injury does not meet this legal requirement. This is why you should contact our office immediately if you have injuries that affect your ability to live your normal life. Our skilled truck accident attorneys will protect your rights and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Get the Bernstein Advantage® today.
How much does a truck accident lawyer charge?
A reputable accident lawyer typically does not charge up-front fees or retainers to take your case. Personal injury attorneys, which includes car accident lawyers, work on a contingency basis. This means they don’t collect their fee (typically one-third of the verdict or settlement) until your case is resolved.
In addition, most accident lawyers charge for out-of-pocket expenses such as obtaining and copying medical records. However, in most cases, plaintiffs do not have to pay these costs until they receive their settlement.
What are the most Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents?
The majority of semi-truck accidents, like most motor vehicle accidents, are caused by human error.
Here are some of the most common examples:
- Truck drivers who are overtired or under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Careless driving
- Improper maintenance
Here are some common maintenance issues that result in semi-truck accidents:
- Brake failure
- Depowered front brakes
- Tire problems
- Distracted driving
Further, trucking companies are prohibited from requiring their drivers to text or use hand-held mobile devices while driving. Nonetheless, commercial truck drivers may legally use mobile phones in a hands-free mode such as voice-activation.
Where can a semi-truck accident victim file a lawsuit?
It is possible to avoid the state court personal jurisdiction issue altogether and sue in federal court, as long as the following conditions are met:
- Complete diversity of citizenship (none of the defendants are domiciled in the same state as the plaintiff)
- The amount in dispute is at least $75,000.00 in monetary damages
Michigan State court:
A plaintiff may sue the at-fault party in Michigan if at least one of the following conditions are met:All parties are domiciled in Michigan The accident happened in Michigan The defendant(s) have minimum contacts in Michigan
This may include a state where the company has a warehouse, store, or branch office. It also includes states where the company sends mail order catalogs, publishes advertisements or takes online orders from customers residing in that state.
As you can see, these issues can present thorny legal challenges that require the expertise of a skilled truck accident lawyer.
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