How Much Money Can You Get From Commercial Truck Insurance After Crash?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Auto accidents always pose a risk of serious injury, but being hit by a commercial truck can be especially devastating. The sheer size and weight of the vehicle make any impact much more serious. The injuries suffered, and the vehicle damage is far more severe in an accident involving a commercial vehicle.
Since Michigan is a no-fault state, everyone involved in a truck accident is entitled to benefits no matter who was at fault. However, with the potential for catastrophic injuries and even wrongful death, it is wise to seek legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. attorneys are experienced truck accident attorneys who will fight for the truck accident settlement you deserve.
Liability for Truck Accidents
Through Michigan’s no-fault insurance scheme, the parties involved in a commercial truck accident may be entitled to benefits from their insurer. These benefits include coverage for economic losses such as medical bills and lost wages.
However, the amount may be limited depending on the level of PIP insurance you’ve selected. If your injuries are severe, your PIP coverage may prove insufficient to cover all your expenses, leaving you to pay for your bills out of pocket.
There is a much greater likelihood of serious injury in a truck accident than in a regular car accident. Yet, the no-fault scheme does not permit an injured party to sue for non-economic losses arising from the accident. The only exception is where the injured party has suffered death, serious physical impairment, or serious permanent disfigurement.
So, if you have been involved in a vehicle accident and your injuries meet the standard required, you may be in a position to sue the truck driver or their employer. However, you will have to prove that the accident occurred due to the driver’s negligence or their employer’s breach of statutory duty.
Accidents are caused by various factors such as driver error, a shifting load, or a truck that has not been maintained according to regulations.
Several parties may be found liable for the crash through their negligence. They include the driver, their employer, the truck’s owner, the manufacturer of the truck, and even the company that loaded the truck.
Examples of negligence in truck accident cases include:
- Speeding or other moving traffic violations
- Driver fatigue
- Failing to take proper rest breaks
- Impaired driving
- Failing to maintain the vehicle properly
- Faulty truck design
- Failing to load the truck properly
Truck drivers and their employers must obey the regulations laid down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Michigan Department of Transportation. These regulations include provisions relating to:
- The number of hours a driver may work within a certain period
- The driving history of the truck driver
- The driver’s training history
- The driver’s history of drug and alcohol use
- Semi-trucks and tractor-trailer maintenance schedule
It will help your truck accident claim if you can show the third parties in your case have violated these regulations.
Proving Your Truck Accident Claim
You will need concrete evidence to establish liability for your claim and the amount of your economic and non-economic losses.
To determine liability, the best possible evidence is from impartial witnesses of the crash. This can come from several sources.
- In the event of a truck crash, it is likely the police will have to be notified. Michigan law states that you must inform the police if a crash causes death, injury, or over $1,000 worth of damage. After attending the scene, the officers will write a report. The police report is a vital piece of evidence because it contains independent evidence showing that the driver was committing traffic offenses at the time of the accident. It will also say whether any federal or state regulations were broken.
- Expert engineers can give evidence as to whether the vehicle was adequately maintained according to regulations.
- Independent witnesses who saw the accident are excellent sources of evidence. It is essential to record the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of anyone who saw the accident occur. It is always best to try to get a written statement at the time of the crash. If this is not possible, make your own notes and use them to jog the memories of potential witnesses when you contact them later.
It is prudent to hire a lawyer to collect the statements for you. They will know what questions to ask and what evidence is needed to prove your claim.
- Medical records are crucial to establishing how much compensation you should receive. Ensure you tell the paramedics at the scene and the healthcare professionals in the emergency room the extent of your injuries and all your symptoms.
You must see your doctor as soon as possible following an accident with a commercial truck, even if you believe your injuries are minor. They could worsen in the future. All these healthcare professionals will make written notes of your injuries that may be used as evidence.
- Keep the receipts for all your expenses. Medical bills, transport to and from the doctors, and any other expense you would not have incurred had you not been in the accident can demonstrate the extent of your hardship.
What Damages Can I Recover?
You may be able to recover damages for losses such as:
- Wrongful death
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished earning capacity
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Attendant allowance
- Lost wages
Be aware that the truck company’s insurance policy may have a limit. The minimum for interstate trucking companies is $750,000. Not every defendant will be a large trucking company with vast resources. If the amount of your damages exceeds their insurance policy limit, you may have trouble collecting the total amount. You need legal advice as to all possible liable parties to ensure you are paid in full.
If a loved one is killed in the accident, then you may claim survivor’s loss benefits which include:
- After-tax income of the deceased
- The value of fringe benefits
- Funeral expenses
You may also seek settlement amounts for:
- The deceased person’s pain and suffering
- Loss of society and companionship
- Other economic losses caused by the death
How are Trucking Accident Settlements Calculated?
To arrive at a settlement figure, several factors have to be taken into account. When determining what is a fair settlement amount for your case, your attorney will consider:
- The degree of negligence of each of the parties toward causing the accident
- The severity of the injuries
- The impact the injuries have on the victim’s lifestyle
- Mental trauma from the crash
- The amount of medical treatment required as a result of the accident
- The effect of any permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Loss of earning capacity, wages, and income
- Policy limits applicable to the driver’s and the employer’s insurance policy
Under Michigan’s comparative negligence law, a plaintiff’s damages will be reduced by their percentage of blame for the accident.
What is My Truck Settlement Worth?
Every case is different and must be valued on its own merits. However, to give a small sample of the settlements and awards achieved by Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C.:
- A pedestrian hit by a commercial vehicle recovered $1.4 million for the traumatic brain injury caused by the accident in Redford, Michigan.
- A Marlette family received a settlement of $1.3 million for the death of their 5-year-old son when a semi-truck hit their vehicle.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is three years for filing a truck accident claim in Michigan for injury or wrongful death. It is the same period to claim for any property damage as a result of the accident.
Typically, this period starts from the date of the accident. However, in wrongful death claims, the period begins from the date of death, not necessarily the date of the accident.
Seek the Advice of Experienced Auto Accident Lawyers Today
The personal injury attorneys at the law firm Cochran Kroll & Associates, P.C. have the expertise to handle your case from start to finish. We can advise you on who is liable for your injuries and how much your claim is potentially worth.
We can collect the statements you need to prove your case and negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company’s lawyers on your behalf.
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 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.