How to File a Truck Accident Claim
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Michigan auto accident laws are incredibly complex, and the set of rules that apply to each accident can vary depending on the vehicles involved. Even if a truck driver caused the accident, there might be overlapping laws and insurance obligations that apply to your case, and sorting through the paperwork and legal jargon can be challenging.
You may need to take legal action to get the truck driver’s insurance company to pay for the damage done to you and your vehicle. Because the laws surrounding commercial truck accidents are so complex, contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible following the truck accident for a free consultation to discuss the merits of your case, and begin filing a claim in civil court.
Car Accident Claims
Even if the truck driver in your case was not negligent, you could still get your medical bills and many other expenses covered by your insurance. Under Michigan law, all auto drivers are required to have no-fault insurance covering their vehicle and injuries incurred in a car accident.
Passengers without their car insurance are often covered by the insurance policy of someone else in their household. A special Michigan fund even covers passengers without auto insurance for uninsured accident victims.
No-fault insurance has limits, and only covers three years of lost wages. In very serious accident cases, you may need to pursue a lawsuit against the trucking company to get the full compensation you deserve. Qualifying for federal or state disability benefits is surprisingly tricky, and you may have more success with a lawsuit.
You may even be able to win pain and suffering compensation if your injuries are permanent and serious. Non-economic compensation is designed to give you and your family relief for the loss of companionship, loss of earning potential, and other long-term problems caused by the accident. Eligible injuries may include spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, or permanent disfiguration.
Police and other investigators take statements from witnesses to determine how the truck crash happened. Make sure to preserve evidence, like photos of your injuries or the crash’s immediate aftermath.
Your attorney gathers evidence to determine whether the truck driver caused the accident due to negligence or failure to follow applicable Michigan traffic laws. The truck driver’s company may also be liable if they did not monitor or enforce safety regulations.
Federal law requires truck drivers to take breaks and rest while on the road, and companies are obligated to monitor their drivers. Property-carrying truck drivers must drive no more than 11 hours after each 10-hour rest period.
Unfortunately, the legal penalties for failure to adhere to federal transportation and trucking industry rules are loose, and drivers may work more hours to meet customer or contractor demands. Your best chance at getting justice is to work with a lawyer to file your lawsuit.
Filing a Claim
Michigan truck accident claims must be filed in civil court. They are subject to a statute of limitations of three years from the accident date. The only exception is for minors who received serious injuries at the time of the accident, who have until one year after their 18th birthday to file.
Once a claim has been filed, your lawyers begin requesting relevant documents, including driving logs, from the trucking company. It may take time for your legal team to receive and process the documents, but they will always keep you updated on your case’s status and work to keep it moving as quickly as possible.
Trucking companies may nullify your court case, like arguing that your filing is inaccurate or that your injuries aren’t that serious. However, having experienced attorneys on your case helps ensure your injuries are taken seriously in court and that you have the best possible chances of winning.
Product Liability Cases
It’s also possible that a defective truck part caused the truck accident. The trucking company may defend themselves in court by showing evidence that they took all reasonable precautions to maintain a safe truck, but a faulty part like an axle or tire caused the accident.
In that case, your legal team may need to pivot to filing a product liability suit against the manufacturer of that part. This type of lawsuit requires extensive information from the trucking company, and your legal team will need to be experienced in both truck accident and product liability cases to win.
Like truck accident claims, product liability cases are subject to a statute of limitations of three years. Beginning your case as soon as possible helps ensure you get all the information you need and file the right type of lawsuit before time runs out.
Settlements and Verdicts
It can take months for your case to work its way through the proper government bodies and for all subpoenaed documents and medical records to be brought forth. In many cases, the trucking company’s insurer or the manufacturing company that made the defective product will try to offer you a settlement, especially if they know the driver was at fault. However, this settlement may be worth far less than you deserve.
Your attorney can advise you on the best route to take and when to accept a settlement. Many settlements are for hundreds of thousands of dollars, you may need much more to care for a disabled loved one properly. Ultimately, if you and your family have suffered great hardships due to a permanent injury or wrongful death, you may have to take your claim to trial.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you or a loved one has been in an accident involving a large truck, your best option is to contact a specialized truck accident lawyer. Cochran, Kroll and Associates, P.C. is a leading injury attorney law firm in the Detroit, Michigan metro area.
Our team can schedule your free initial consultation to provide you with valuable information. Call us at 866-MICH-LAW to get started pursuing justice for you before the statute of limitations runs out.
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.