What to Expect in a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
After an accident with a commercial semi truck, you need time to heal. However, you must also consider whether to file a lawsuit. While you know you deserve to receive compensation for your injuries, lost wages, or the wrongful death of loved ones, filing a lawsuit is a daunting challenge.
Knowing what to expect in large truck accident cases can help you decide and make the process easier to cope with. Many complex legal issues surround this type of accident, but an experienced truck accident attorney at our law firm can help it all make sense and guide you to a successful outcome.
How Do You Start a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
When exploring the option of filing a truck accident claim, your first step is to meet with a personal injury attorney specializing in truck accident law to help you learn what your options are and how to proceed. It’s essential to find a law firm that specializes in these types of accidents. Working with a truck accident lawyer can help shorten the timeframe if you go forward with a lawsuit.
If your attorney believes you have a case, they begin a thorough investigation. Before you can file a claim or lawsuit, you and your attorney must compile all the necessary information, including causes of the accident, whether someone’s negligence had a part in the accident, and identifying the liable party or parties. Expect the following:
- Review of records: Your legal team will review the various records, including medical records, accident and police reports, accident scene photos, and other pertinent records.
- Consulting with accident reconstruction experts: These experts take photographs and measurements at the accident scene and interview witnesses to help reconstruct the accident and provide the results to your attorney.
- Preserve evidence: Measures taken by your attorney include asking the court to ensure all evidence is preserved. This might include the wrecked truck itself and trucking company records.
This information can help your lawyer determine how to proceed with your lawsuit, including how much compensation to seek and who to name in the lawsuit.
Who Do You File the Lawsuit Against?
Unlike a car crash involving two or more passenger vehicles, accidents involving a truck add a commercial dimension, which means you need to include multiple parties in your lawsuit.
After thoroughly examining all the facts surrounding the case, your lawyer can file your lawsuit against the individuals and entities involved, not the insurance companies that represent them.
Besides the driver of the semi truck, other responsible parties may include:
- Truck driver’s employer or contracting company
- Truck owner
- Company or individuals responsible for truck maintenance and repairs
- Manufacturer of the truck or its parts
Working with an experienced lawyer is necessary since having so many liable parties can complicate the situation, especially when different insurance companies represent each liable party.
Expect the companies and their insurance companies to mount an aggressive defense. The insurance liability limits are usually high, meaning the potential amount you can receive is also high.
How to Establish Liability?
All drivers must adhere to specific obligations and responsibilities when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. For instance, anyone driving a car should do so responsibly and safely, protecting other drivers and pedestrians encountered along the way.
Commercial truck drivers must follow a higher standard of care due to their vehicles’ size and weight. However, many companies push drivers to work long hours to meet deadlines. The FMCSA, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, has a limit on the number of hours tractor-trailer drivers can drive without rest, but unfortunately, drivers often exceed the hours, resulting in fatigue and dangerous driving.
Identifying liable parties is difficult. Michigan is a no-fault state, and while you receive medical expenses from your insurance, you may need further compensation for injuries and lost time at work. This is a prime reason to determine what other parties were negligent and file a lawsuit against them.
The driver of the car often shares responsibility in a truck accident lawsuit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t recover some portion of your expenses. An assessment occurs, identifying how much each party involved contributed to the accident.
Michigan follows a modified comparative negligence model for multiple-party liability. If the court finds that you were over 50 percent responsible for the accident, you will not receive compensation from the others involved. Your truck accident lawyer can give you legal advice about whether you should proceed with a lawsuit, depending on the percentage of fault you hold.
What Happens Once the Lawsuit is Filed?
Once your attorney files your truck accident lawsuit, the legal process starts. A phase known as “discovery” begins where the legal counsel on all sides reviews case details and collects further evidence.
Your truck accident attorney may reach out to the truck driver’s employer for logbooks and personnel files. These are essential to your case and may contain any of the following:
- Training records
- Past employment history
- Alcohol and drug test results
- Driving record and safety violations, including any prior vehicle accidents
- Certifications and licenses held
- Hours of service
What Damages Can You Recover?
There are several types of damages recoverable in a truck accident lawsuit, both economic and non-economic. You and your legal team can decide which ones to pursue.
- Medical expenses, including past, current, and future.
- Lost wages, caused by missing work due to the accident.
- Reduced earning capacity if you have to alter your job, including reduced hours or transitioning to a lower-paid position because of your injuries.
- Property damage, including repair or replacement of your vehicle and anything inside it such as laptop computers and luggage.
- Pain and suffering, both physical and mental.
- Emotional traumas, such as sustaining PTSD.
- Disability, including temporary and permanent.
For all these damages, your lawyer provides thorough documentation as proof when filing your claim, including your medical bills, doctor’s reports, employment and wage records. Although Michigan doesn’t allow for punitive damages, your attorney may seek exemplary damages, which allow you to be awarded for any malicious behavior of those liable.
Will it Go All the Way to Court?
Prepare yourself for the fact that your case may take months to settle. If an acceptable settlement isn’t reached and your case goes all the way to trial, it can take years. However, working with an experienced truck accident attorney who knows the court system and what is needed to be successful in a shorter time frame can speed up your lawsuit.
Fortunately, most truck accident lawsuits do not proceed to trial but instead reach a settlement. This will be the goal of your truck accident attorney. However, your attorney shouldn’t hesitate to continue to trial if the settlement offers are too low or unfair.
Contact Michigan’s Top Truck Accident Attorneys Today
With so much involved in a truck accident lawsuit, it’s essential you work with experienced attorneys who understand exactly how to navigate the legal system and can lead you to a fair outcome and compensation. The specialized truck accident attorneys with Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., are here to review your case and fight for your rights. Call our law offices today at 866-MICH-LAW for your confidential, free consultation.
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.