What Type of Lawyer Handles Truck Crash Accidents?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
A truck’s size, weight, and speed can cause significant damage to a smaller passenger vehicle. In 2019, 11% of all fatal motor crashes in the United States involved truck accidents. These accidents can cause property damage, pain and suffering, and wrongful death.
Working with a skilled personal injury lawyer can make a difference in getting fair compensation from the insurance company if you are injured in a truck accident. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C., we understand the complexities of filing insurance claims and pursuing legal action for serious injuries that impact your quality of life.
What are the Differences Between a Truck Accident and an Auto Accident
A personal injury lawyer can help you understand the difference between a truck accident injury claim and a car accident injury claim. Here are a few examples of how they differ:
Multiple at-fault parties
Automobile accidents usually involve you and the other driver. A commercial truck accident may involve many parties, such as the truck driver and the trucking company. This makes the case more complex. An experienced truck accident lawyer can help you pursue damages from more than one responsible individual or entity.
Tight delivery deadlines for truck drivers
Federal law allows truck drivers to work for 14 consecutive hours, of which they can drive for 11 hours. The 14-hour window applies if they have been off duty for 10 or more straight hours before the shift commences. With these federal laws in place, trucking companies often risk the safety and health of their truck drivers to meet tight delivery deadlines.
A study found that 13% of commercial motor vehicle drivers were fatigued at the time of their crashes. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), having unrealistic deadlines can also increase the likelihood of unsafe road behavior such as speeding and violating driving-hour regulations.
Size distinction between a truck and a car
The average weight of a motor vehicle is 4,156 pounds. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a commercial truck can weigh upward of 10,000 pounds with a gross weight limit of 80,000 pounds.
Loaded tractor-trailers take 20-40% longer to stop than cars, and the difference is higher on wet or slick roads if their brakes are not well-maintained. Because a motor vehicle is much smaller than a commercial truck, there is a greater risk of serious personal injuries, resulting in disability or even death.
Presence of a black box in a truck
Black boxes distinguish truck accidents from conventional car accidents. According to the FMCSA, these black boxes, also known as ELDs (electronic logging devices), are mandatory for all commercial vehicles and drivers.
An ELD’s primary purpose is to track a person’s number of miles driven. It also syncs with the commercial vehicle’s engine to note the engine hours, engine power status, and vehicle motion status. The ELD includes information about the driver/authorized user, the vehicle, and the motor carrier.
According to federal law, ELDs must offer a way to digitally transfer data to law enforcement. They must also have a backup method of displaying data to law enforcement, such as a printer or screen.
How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help You
Personal injury lawyers can help accident victims in various ways following a truck accident. You can complete your no-fault claim for the insurance company with their help. An attorney can help you seek multiple types of damages to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
File a claim with your insurance company
You must call your insurance company in the aftermath of a serious accident. You have one year under Michigan law to file for no-fault benefits. A representative of the insurance company will ask you to complete your no-fault insurance claim application. A lawyer can review your insurance policy to ensure you have claimed everything in compliance with the insurance company’s rules.
Deal with the insurance company and reach a settlement
Sometimes, it may be more helpful to negotiate a settlement with your insurance company. However, you give up some rights and the ability to sue later. The insurance company may also offer a lower settlement that does not cover all future medical treatments.
The best way to account for your future medical and financial needs is to work with a personal injury lawyer. For these negotiations, they can put together a solid package of evidence that can help you achieve the best possible settlement for your truck accident.
Ensure correct application of Michigan’s comparative fault law
Michigan has a comparative fault law, so the amount of compensation you could receive depends on your percentage of liability. If your percentage is greater than 50%, you may not recover any non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. However, it is possible to recover some of the economic damages under the comparative fault law. Your lawyer can make a compelling case for you using solid evidence, ensuring you are treated fairly under the law.
Gather evidence from your truck accident
You must provide evidence of your vehicle accident when pursuing a personal injury claim. A truck accident lawyer can collect evidence specific to truck accidents, such as the ELD’s data. The following information can help your lawyer when preparing your claim:
- Pictures and videos of the crash from different angles: The photos should show all the vehicles in the truck crash. They can act as evidence of any damage to the road’s surface or tire skid marks.
- Photos of injuries sustained in the truck accident: Take pictures of your injuries if possible. If you receive medical attention, make sure you record the progression of your injuries. Ensure you have pictures of your injuries at every critical touchpoint in your recovery process.
- Contact information of all drivers in the accident: Collect everyone’s name and phone number. Find out who insures them and what their license, registration, and plate numbers are. A police report also contains information on the other driver’s contact information and insurance coverage.
- Copies of all accident-related medical bills: Make sure your lawyer has a copy of all your medical records. The insurance companies may claim that the severity of your injuries resulted from pre-existing conditions. Your complete medical history can help your lawyer prove otherwise on the insurance claim.
How Can Your Truck Accident Attorney Help You Recover Damages
Your lawyer can help you recover a range of damages resulting from your truck accident. They can help you identify which damages apply to your truck accident claim.
You may have to incur considerable financial burdens, such as high repair costs if a truck damages your car. If your vehicle is totaled, you may not commute to work and continue your daily tasks of buying groceries and picking up your children from school.
Recoverable property damage includes repair costs, loss of usage, change in the car’s value, and outright loss. The damage you incur can consist of any personal items in your vehicle when the accident occurs, such as eyeglasses or a cellphone.
If you had to take time off work to recover from your injuries, you could file a claim for lost wages. In addition, your attorney can file a claim on your behalf if you lose future income. They calculate and add that amount to your claim.
In Michigan, many auto accident victims are unaware of their options for receiving no-fault benefits, including attendant care. No-fault benefits cover family members, household residents, and people with business or personal ties who provide attendance care for up to 56 hours a week. If they have been caring for you with your daily living tasks such as eating and showering, you can include those costs in your claim.
Pain and suffering
Healing from injuries and any complications that result may cause pain and suffering. Damages for pain and suffering include:
- The degree of psychological distress, trauma, and other mental health challenges from your truck accident.
- Lifelong disabilities and handicaps that include mobility issues and cognitive difficulties.
- Physical scarring and disfigurement from your injuries.
When a truck accident kills the driver or passenger in another vehicle, a Personal Representative on behalf of the surviving family members may pursue a wrongful death claim. The following factors determine a wrongful death claim:
- The victim’s pain and suffering from the time of the accident until death.
- Loss of companionship for the surviving family members.
- Loss of income and financial support that include loss of future earnings, benefits, and inheritance.
- Total cost of medical care, hospitalization, and funeral services.
Your lawyer can help you file a wrongful death claim against the truck driver and their trucking company. Doing so can help you cover the economic costs resulting from your loved one’s death.
Our Lawyers Have the Experience You Need
At Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C., we pride ourselves on fighting for and winning the compensation our clients deserve. Here is a small sample of our successful verdicts in truck accident cases:
- $1.3 million settlement to a family in Marlette, Michigan, for the wrongful death of their 5-year old son in a semi-truck accident
- $1.4 million settlement to a Livonia pedestrian struck by a commercial van, resulting in traumatic brain injury
Get Justice for Your Truck Accident
If you or someone you love has been injured due to a trucker’s negligence, seek the help of a skilled Michigan attorney. They can help you navigate the legal complexities that come with dealing with the truck driver, their company, and their insurance company.
Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C.’s experienced truck accident attorneys can help you understand your legal rights and put together the evidence you need to pursue a 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 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.