7 Reasons Michigan Truck Crashes Must Be Handled by an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
According to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP), there were 16,603 commercial truck accidents in 2019, with 105 being fatal. The majority of the fatalities, 82.9%, were caused by crashes with big rigs (trucks over 26,000 lbs.). Crash victims who survived may still live with chronic pain and permanent disabilities.
If you or a loved one was seriously hurt in a collision with a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), contact us for a free consultation with an experienced Michigan truck accident lawyer.
Understanding why you need an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side is vital to the outcome of your truck accident case.
You Must File Against the Trucking Company
After a truck accident, you must file a claim against the trucking company that employed the driver. However, trucking companies have legal and financial resources available to defend the driver.
Hiring an experienced truck accident attorney places your claim on equal footing. Your attorney has extensive experience fighting back against trucking company attorneys. Your lawyer will also know which types of evidence are most likely to strengthen your case and can assist you in collecting evidence for your claim.
Your Attorney Will Handle All Communication Related to the Case
After a truck accident, you may be contacted by the trucking company’s insurance provider or legal representative. They may ask you questions about the accident or your injuries, ask you to provide a recorded statement or try to get you to sign papers.
However, their goal is to have you admit that your actions led to the accident. Even if you do not directly admit that you were at fault, any statements implying you were at fault can be used to prove that you were responsible for the collision.
Having a skilled attorney protects you against these representatives. Your attorney will handle all communication with the other party’s insurance provider and legal representation, ensuring they cannot use any statements against you.
Having an attorney also prevents the truck company’s lawyer from contacting you: the American Bar Association’s code of ethics forbids lawyers from speaking with a client already represented by counsel.
Additionally, your lawyer will advise you against any communication that could jeopardize your case. For example, you might not think twice about posting to social media about something unrelated to the truck accident. Your attorney, on the other hand, may tell you to avoid posting on social media until the case is over, as the other party could use your social media posts as evidence that you aren’t as injured as you claim.
Insurance May Offer a Lowball Settlement
It’s common for a trucking company’s insurance company to offer a settlement to truck accident victims. Many victims are unaware that the settlement offer is less than what they’re owed and will accept it prematurely. However, a lawyer can recognize a lowball settlement and advise against accepting it.
Once you have rejected the settlement offer, your lawyer can negotiate a higher settlement with the insurance company. If there is no agreement on a settlement offer, your attorney will represent you in court.
Commercial Vehicle Drivers Have Driving Restrictions
Truck drivers are subject to different legal restrictions than passenger car drivers. Violations of these restrictions can be used to prove negligence on behalf of the truck driver or the trucking company and earn you a higher settlement.
For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) places nationwide restrictions on the number of hours truck drivers are on the road. These restrictions are designed to prevent driver fatigue, which is particularly dangerous for truck drivers. However, commercial trucking companies often ignore these laws and pressure their drivers to remain on the road. This can lead to exhaustion and an eventual collision.
Proving driver fatigue, road rage, poor driver training, and reckless driving can be difficult. Your attorney, however, may be able to recover evidence that the truck driver was fatigued, driving recklessly, failing to obey traffic rules, or not adhering to FMCSA regulations.
A Third Party May Hold Responsibility
The truck driver or company may not always hold full responsibility for the crash. If the collision results from a third party’s negligence, the third party could also be held liable. For example, if the truck was manufactured with a defective part that resulted in the crash, a qualified lawyer can help you file a claim against the manufacturer due to their role in causing the crash.
However, proving a third party’s liability can be challenging. If a third-party shipping company loaded the truck’s cargo unevenly and caused the truck to tip, you need to provide evidence that the third-party company loaded the cargo improperly. An experienced truck accident attorney can collect evidence of the third party’s responsibility and file a claim against them.
Truck Accident Injuries Can Have Long-Lasting Effects
Victims of truck accidents often do not realize or anticipate the long-term effects of the accident, which can cause them to underestimate the compensation they are owed. Experienced truck accident attorneys, however, are familiar with the types of damages that victims may be facing and will help them recover full compensation.
For example, a semi-truck accident victim is paralyzed and develops post-traumatic stress disorder due to the crash. Without an attorney, the victim may only file a claim for the medical bills not covered by their Personal Injury Protection insurance. With an attorney, however, the victim may learn they can file a claim for medical bills, lost wages, the cost of adapting their house and vehicle, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
Some attorneys may even have a background that can strengthen your claim. For example, Eileen Kroll of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. has an extensive medical background, so she is familiar with the injuries and prognoses associated with truck accidents and will fight against push-back from the trucking company’s attorneys.
You Can Earn a Far Higher Settlement
The FMCSA has much higher insurance minimums for trucks than passenger vehicles. Generally, trucks hauling cargo must have at least $750,000 in insurance; the minimum may be even higher depending on the cargo being transported. These heightened insurance rates allow a higher settlement than you could receive in a car accident claim.
Your attorney has extensive experience negotiating settlements with insurance companies. You can also expect your attorney to negotiate with insurance lienholders, such as healthcare providers entitled to your share of a settlement, as lienholders will often try to take more of your settlement than they need.
Additionally, non-economic damages (like pain and suffering or wrongful death) are determined with a multiplier. To calculate non-economic damages, your economic damages are multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5; the more serious your non-economic damages are, the higher your multiplier will be. A lawyer knows how to provide a powerful argument that will raise your multiplier and earn you a higher settlement.
Our legal team at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can estimate your total settlement based on the facts of your case. Our skilled attorneys can determine how to maximize your settlement based on the specifics of your claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C.
A serious truck accident can have lasting physical, emotional, and financial effects. If you or a loved one were a truck accident victim, a skilled truck accident injury attorney in Michigan can help you recover compensation for your damages. Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., is ready to represent you in your claim.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.