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For many of us, driving next to a semi-truck or large tractor-trailer on a busy highway can be a bit nerve-wracking. Semi-truck accidents can cause major damage – a fact that you know all too well if you have been injured in a truck accident. What’s more, dealing with a truck accident claim can be an exhausting and time-consuming process for the victim.

Nevertheless, the good news is – if you have been injured in a Michigan truck accident, you don’t need to handle it alone. The help of the experienced Michigan truck accident lawyers at Mike Morse Law Firm can be just what you and your family need to get back on your feet. 

We are prepared to go the distance for our clients and our team is here for you 24/7. Call our firm today at 855-MIKE-WINS for a free consultation.

Truck Facts and Statistics

As one of the top countries for freight volume, there is no shortage of trucks on US roads. The United States has millions of trucks registered for commercial purposes. From pick-up trucks to semis, many of these trucks travel along Michigan highways and roads each day.

Truck classifications

The Federal Highway Administration classifies trucks into 8 categories:

  1. Class 1: Under 6,000 pounds (eg. small pick-up or minivan)
  2. Class 2: 6,000 to 10,000 pounds
  3. Class 3: 10,000 to 14,000 pounds (eg. minivan)
  4. Class 4: 14,000 to 16,000 pounds
  5. Class 5: 16,000 to 19,500 pounds (eg. delivery truck)
  6. Class 6: 19,500 to 26,000 pounds (eg. school bus)
  7. Class 7: 26,000 to 33,000 pounds
  8. Class 8: Over 33,000 pounds (eg. semi truck or tour bus)

Drivers who operate heavy-duty trucks (those in class 7 or 8) require a commercial driver’s license.

Truck accident statistics

Here are some statistics about truck accidents in the United States in 2019, according to Michigan state police and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety:

  • There were 16,604 Michigan accidents that involved either a truck or a bus
  • 291 bus/truck accidents in the state were related to drugs or alcohol
  • Nearly 828 bus/truck accidents occurred in Michigan construction zones
  • The majority of nationwide truck accidents happened on rural roads

Many organizations have been formed in an effort to increase road safety and reduce the number of trucking accidents. Yet, as seen by these statistics, tractor-trailer and semi-truck accidents continue to pose a major threat on the road. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, please don’t hesitate to contact a truck accident lawyer with Mike Morse Law Firm for a free consultation. We can give you feedback on how best to pursue your case.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Michigan

We understand that no two truck accidents are the same. However, our truck accident attorneys have seen that large truck collisions tend to be caused by certain common hazards, many of which are avoidable.

Driver negligence

For a truck driver, following the rules of the road is all the more important. When a truck driver fails to follow safe driving practices, the results can be catastrophic for everyone involved. 

Some examples of driver negligence that can cause an accident include:

  • Distracted driving: As with anyone, truck drivers can become distracted when using their phones or other electronics while driving. They may also be receiving communication from the office or other drivers while on the road. The increased risk involved when distracted by a phone has led to mobile phone use being restricted for commercial drivers in Michigan.
  • Failure to yield: When a truck driver fails to stop at a stop sign or any other road signal, it can be difficult for another driver to react quickly enough to avoid an accident.
  • Unsafe lane change: Large commercial trucks often have larger blind spots than passenger vehicles. This can make it harder for truck drivers to see smaller vehicles in the next lane, leading to unsafe lane changes that can cause an accident.

In order to hold a commercial driving license, training is required to ensure drivers know and understand safety regulations and safe driving practices. Despite this mandatory training, mistakes and carelessness still cause accidents. A truck accident lawyer can investigate to uncover any negligent actions that led to the crash. 

Overworked drivers

Trucking companies may put pressure on their drivers to meet tight delivery times. Unexpected delays, road work, or inclement weather can result in a driver being behind schedule. As a result, truck drivers may feel the pressure to work long hours without rest, despite the laws in place to reduce and prevent driver fatigue.

For example, Michigan truck drivers can only drive for 11 hours at a time and must take 10 consecutive hours off-duty between driving periods. There is also a limit of 60-70 hours worked in a 7-8 day period. Most drivers are expected to keep a detailed logbook to ensure they are following the regulations surrounding on-duty and off-duty hours.

Overworked drivers behind the wheel with little rest pose a hazard to everyone around them. As stated by the American Sleep Association, driving while sleepy leads to drivers being less alert, making poor decisions, and having slower reaction times. Coupling these risks with a large, powerful vehicle can lead to tragic consequences.

A truck accident lawyer can carefully examine logbooks and compile all necessary evidence to determine whether the truck driver was compliant with the driving regulations or not. 

Poorly maintained vehicles

Michigan laws also stipulate standards for vehicle maintenance that must be followed by both drivers and trucking companies. These regulations include standards for various truck parts and protocols, including:

  • Mudflaps
  • Vehicle size and weight
  • Brakes
  • Safety devices
  • Weight and axle load
  • Cargo securement
  • Reflective tape

With a large vehicle comes many parts to maintain and keep in working order. Unfortunately, even a seemingly small detail that is overlooked can lead to big problems.

An experienced Michigan truck accident lawyer knows what to look for in the aftermath of an accident to prove liability. If you have suffered personal injury after an accident with a tractor-trailer or any other large commercial truck, you need a reliable truck accident attorney who can offer the help you need. A free consultation with the team at Mike Morse Law Firm can help you understand your legal options after an accident.

Potential Liable Parties After a Michigan Truck Accident

When investigating a truck accident, it is important to properly identify all liable parties to ensure maximum compensation. At times, there may even be more than one party that contributed to the crash who should be held responsible for the damages caused.

Your truck accident lawyer can thoroughly investigate the truck crash to understand the circumstances and details that led to the accident. He or she can then identify all liable parties and fight for you to get the compensation you deserve.

The trucking company

Sadly, there are trucking companies that are more concerned with profits than safety. As such, they may be tempted to skirt regulations in an effort to increase volume and company profits. This can be seen with safety violations, irregular or skipped vehicle maintenance, excessive driver working hours, or even irresponsible hiring practices.

Depending on the results of the investigation, a trucking company may be held liable for negligence by:

  • Failing to keep the vehicle in safe condition
  • Hiring unqualified or untrained drivers
  • Failing to comply with maximum on-duty hour regulations

A trucking company that ignores the safety standards set in place puts lives at risk. When their negligence or even willful disregard for safety leads to personal injury, a truck accident lawyer can ensure that the liable party is held accountable for their actions. Your lawyer can also investigate to determine whether the trucking company has any citations or complaints regarding previous safety violations. 

The truck driver

Unsafe driving practices by the driver are also at the root of many truck accidents. A truck driver can be found liable if he or she was engaging in a number of negligent practices.

Negligent behavior on the part of the truck driver may include:

  • Driving while distracted
  • Failing to follow company and government safety protocols
  • Failing to ensure loads are properly contained 

The driver, trucking company, or insurance company may try to deny any wrongdoing in the accident, even when at fault. Your Michigan truck accident lawyer can gather evidence to prove which negligent actions of the driver were responsible for the truck crash.

The government agency

At times, an accident can be caused by road conditions or other hazards out of the driver’s control. Depending on the type of road, either state or local government agencies are responsible for making sure roadways are maintained so they are reasonably safe for travel. The state or local government may be liable for damages caused by poor maintenance.

Of course, pursuing legal action against a government agency is no easy task. If you believe that your Michigan truck accident was caused by government negligence, contact the team at Mike Morse Law Firm right away. After a free consultation to learn more about your truck accident case, a truck accident lawyer can defend your legal rights and pursue fair compensation for your damages.

The manufacturer

A mechanical or electrical defect with the truck or other vehicle may also lead to an accident. Some parts that may be defective include:

  • Tires
  • Brakes
  • Headlights
  • Horn
  • Airbag

After a thorough investigation, your accident lawyer can determine whether a manufacturing issue played a role in the accident. 

Common Damages of a Truck Accident

A truck accident can cause a host of damages for the accident victim. Thankfully, Michigan law allows for victims of vehicle accidents to recover compensation for the losses they have experienced, whether physical, financial, or emotional.

Extensive property damage

An average passenger vehicle weighs around 3,000 pounds. So when a collision happens between a car and a truck that can weigh up to 30,000 pounds – or even more – there are often substantial damages sustained to the smaller vehicle.

Sometimes, though, the vehicle is not the only property damaged in a crash. Residents of homes that are close to the road may have a truck crash into their property, damaging their home, garage, and yard without even being involved in the accident. These losses can be claimed as well for compensation.

Severe physical injuries

Due to the nature of truck accidents, many truck accident victims suffer serious injuries. These can include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Loss of limb
  • Paralysis
  • Internal injuries

If the injuries are severe enough, medical care may be given immediately following the crash, with an ambulance called or a trip to the hospital. However, a number of injuries may not be noticeable right away but can pose problems down the road.

It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you have been in a truck accident. Even if you feel fine and do not believe you are injured, an examination by a medical professional can identify subtle injuries you may have sustained. The earlier these issues are diagnosed, the sooner treatment and recovery can begin.

Financial losses

After the accident, you likely face mounting financial expenses. For example, you may be required to take extended time off work for your physical and emotional recovery. Or, even if you are able to continue working, you may be limited in the hours or type of work you can perform.

Essential medical treatment and rehabilitation can be expensive as well. Medical bills for ambulatory or surgical care, prescription medication, and continued home care can begin to pile up after the accident. You may even need to make modifications to your home or vehicle during your recovery. 

You deserve compensation for your financial losses due to lost wages and medical bills.

Emotional damages

Many of the damages suffered after a truck accident are difficult to measure financially. Truck accident victims often experience immense pain and suffering after the accident, including emotional stress or even PTSD.

The personal injury suffered could be severe enough to result in a permanent disability or disfigurement, including a loss of limb. Even though these emotional damages are not easily measured, they are very real damages that deserve compensation.

Working with a Michigan truck accident lawyer at our firm can ensure your emotional damages are considered in your settlement. With over $1 billion won for our clients, our legal team has the experience and resources necessary to fight for you and represent your interests.

How Truck Accident Claims Are Unique

Two main factors make truck accidents unique: the size of the truck and the fact that it is a commercial vehicle. 

First of all, the sheer size and weight of tractor-trailers mean that many Michigan truck accidents result in serious damage. With these types of serious injuries or financial losses in the millions, working with a Michigan truck accident lawyer becomes even more essential than a regular motor vehicle collision.

Second, truck accident cases are complex because these involve commercial vehicles with special insurance. The regulations surrounding semi-truck insurance policies are different from those for passenger vehicles. What’s more, both the trucking company and the insurance company have an incentive to avoid responsibility for the crash and find ways to deny the claim.

Hiring a truck accident attorney who is well-versed in Michigan law and the unique aspects of your truck accident case is the best way to maximize your results.

How Does Driver Fatigue Cause Truck Accidents?

For many adults, getting enough sleep is an unattainable goal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep. Some tired and worn-out people, though, must get behind the wheel for work or to accomplish errands.  

First of all, the sheer size and weight of tractor-trailers mean that many Michigan truck accidents result in serious damage. With these types of serious injuries or financial losses in the millions, working with a Michigan truck accident lawyer becomes even more essential than a regular motor vehicle collision.

Truck drivers, for instance, may try to “push through” being tired for many reasons. For one, they may face unrealistic deadlines and pressure from trucking companies, encouraging them to hurry and drive while lacking sleep.

However, driving without sufficient sleep is extremely dangerous. Research shows that a fatigued driver may drive similar to someone who is drunk in some cases.

A drowsy truck driver can have a diminished attention span and may react slowly to changing road conditions. He or she could even fall asleep at the wheel.

Clearly, the chance of truck accidents greatly increases when truckers continue driving despite safety risks. At the same time, though, the tired driver of an average-sized car could also inattentively pass under or collide with a truck. Either way, the consequences can be devastating.

How Long Does a Truck Accident Claim Take to Settle?

Among the most dangerous types of vehicle accidents that drivers may experience are truck accidents. Not only can they be more dangerous, but they can also be more complicated from a legal standpoint. Consequently, truck accidents may take longer to settle than car accidents in general.

For instance, many truck drivers do not own the truck they drive. The vehicle could be owned by a trucking company – so there may be more than one responsible party legally involved.

These are just a few of the many factors involved in a truck accident claim. They may complicate the process of reaching a settlement, but you can still be successful.

With skillful and knowledgeable lawyers on your side, a truck accident case could reach a settlement in a few months. However, when there is a mountain of complex issues ahead of you, it could take much longer.

How Negligence is Established in a Truck Accident

The results of a truck driver’s incorrect decision could be devastating and easy to see. However, determining whether the truck driver was negligent some time after the accident can be much more difficult.

Was the truck driver distracted? Or did something occur that made it impossible for him to react appropriately? Knowing where to look for the evidence is crucial to finding the answer.

Just as with car accidents, human error is often the cause of truck accidents. It could be that a truck driver failed to take necessary, safe actions, or he could have been multitasking rather than sufficiently focusing on driving.

Skilled lawyers ask the right questions to analyze the facts and circumstances of a truck accident carefully. In doing so, they can ascertain whether negligence was involved and who is at fault.

How Truck Accidents Are Different Than Car Accidents

Truck accidents and car accidents share some common elements but differ in several ways. The most unique aspects can notably impact the legal development of a truck accident case.

Of course, one obvious difference between car and truck accidents is the size of the vehicles. The greater size and weight of commercial trucks can easily result in much larger-scale damage. Thus, truck accidents can cause more intense injuries and may impact more people than in your average car accident.

In addition, in a car accident case, the vehicles involved are usually owned by their own drivers, so there are fewer possible guilty parties. On the other hand, negligence can often be linked to more than one party in truck accident cases.

Third-party claims could be filed with the trucking company, the cargo loading contractor, the auto parts manufacturer, or those responsible for maintaining the truck. It all depends on the specific situation at hand.

Is It Worth Hiring a Truck Accident Lawyer?

Truck accidents can be especially disastrous. The immediate physical damage can be very serious, and there may be extensive and long-lasting damages to your financial and physical health.

These aftereffects can be persistent and come with a hefty price tag. Thus, adequate and just compensation is essential for getting your life back on track.

You will need enough compensation to cover immediate and future losses and costs. But trying to determine a fair settlement is no easy task, perhaps especially when you are recovering from severe injuries.

However, hiring experienced truck accident lawyers can make all the difference in your life. We can examine all the crucial information about your accident, look down the road, and see the long-term financial implications to make sure you receive all you’re entitled to.

In short, while you concentrate on healing, our truck accident lawyers can vigorously work on safeguarding your financial interests.

Is the Truck Driver or Trucking Company Responsible in a Truck Accident?

There is no doubt that a truck accident can be more complex legally than a regular car accident. More than one party can be connected to the truck and liable for the collision.

First of all, a truck driver may not own the truck he is operating. A trucking company may own the truck, while a third party might be responsible for the load being transported.

It can be difficult to ascertain what caused the accident. However, once the reason is pinpointed, it could still be puzzling to determine who is accountable or whether more than one party is responsible.

Was negligence on the part of a single person, such as the driver, the cause? If the driver is responsible, did the trucking company pressure the driver to proceed carelessly to meet deadlines? Or did something similar occur with the loaders of the cargo so they loaded it wrong?

It is crucial to reach an answer to these questions and many more to determine whether the truck driver, trucking company, or a third party is to blame.

Should I Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer for a Minor Accident?

Trucks are large vehicles; their sheer size and weight can cause extensive damage even in what seems like a minor accident. Some may assume a truck accident is minor when there are no visible injuries and limited property damage has been inflicted. Yet, you should remember that some injuries may not be evident at first.

In time, you may need to see a doctor for your injuries, possibly resulting in time off work and mounting medical bills. Even if you feel fine after an accident, you must get a medical check-up as soon as possible and keep an eye on any symptoms that may appear.

Whether you were in a minor or major truck accident, it is advisable to seek counsel from an experienced lawyer to find out what your rights are. You can schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our experienced truck attorneys to discuss your case details. We can give you an honest evaluation of your case to help you make an informed decision on your truck accident case.

Types of Truck Accidents

Truck drivers drive long distances at various times of the day, delivering heavy loads throughout the country. According to the American Trucking Association, trucks transported an estimated 10.23 billion tons of freight across the nation in 2020. Carrying heavy loads on rural and interstate roads comes with its fair share of risk, especially when other factors, such as fatigue or speeding, come into play.

Due to the size, weight, and power of large trucks, accidents involving these immense vehicles can cause catastrophic injuries for any motorist on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report for large truck crashes in 2019, of the 159,000 people injured, some 69 percent (110,000 people) were occupants of other vehicles.

There are many different types of truck accidents that can arise for a variety of reasons. Common truck accidents include:

  • Jackknife accidents
  • Rear-end collisions
  • Truck rollovers
  • Side-swipe accidents
  • Blindspot collisions
  • T-bone accidents
  • Tire blowouts
  • Wide turn accidents
  • Head-on collisions
  • Underride accidents
  • Lost load accidents

Common Truck Accident Causes

Generally, the majority of truck accidents are caused by driver error – that of either the truck operator or another involved driver. All motorists have a responsibility to drive in a way that does not cause harm to others. While there are many reasons an accident may occur, negligence seems to be a frequent factor found among truck accident cases.

It only takes a moment of inattentiveness for a driver to lose control of his or her vehicle and cause a devastating crash. Truck drivers sometimes speed to meet unrealistic delivery expectations, but they may become distracted by the use of a cell phone.

Or the driver may unwisely work beyond the allowed hours of service. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations which refers to the maximum amount of time a driver is permitted to be on duty to help the driver stay awake and alert.

Common causes of truck accidents include the following:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Fatigued driving
  • Improper cargo loading
  • Driving under the influence
  • Poor truck maintenance
  • Tire blowouts
  • Aggressive driving
  • Dangerous road conditions
  • Bad weather

What Can I Do to Protect My Rights After a Truck Accident?

Everything that happens after the accident can either safeguard or jeopardize your rights. To protect yourself after a truck accident, it is important to ensure the safety of anyone injured in the accident and call 911 as soon as possible.

When the police get to the accident scene, they will be able to assist all those involved and officially document the incident. All necessary information will be included in the police report, which can serve as supporting evidence for your case.

The following steps will help you later on if you decide to file a personal injury claim for your injuries:

  1. Check for injuries and call emergency services
  2. Refrain from apologizing or admitting fault as this can affect your chances of compensation
  3. Document the accident by taking photos, videos, and collecting witness statements
  4. Seek medical attention even if you feel fine at the time
  5. Keep track of expenses and medical reports
  6. Contact a truck accident lawyer for legal advice
  7. Notify your insurance company

What Happens If the At-fault Party Does Not Have Truck Insurance?

Filing a claim with your personal insurance company

If the at-fault party is uninsured, you might be able to file a claim with your own insurer. This is possible if you hold uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage protection.

Filing a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault truck driver’s company

If the truck driver doesn’t have insurance, you may be able to seek compensation via his or her employer or truck company. If the company is found to be at fault for the accident, you could seek compensation by filing a claim with their insurance company. Alternatively, a truck accident lawyer can explore the option of filing a lawsuit against the driver personally or the employer on your behalf.

What is the Average Settlement for a Truck Accident?

Truck accident settlements can vary from thousands to millions of dollars depending on the circumstances of each case. Settlements are made by either negotiating with an insurance company or taking the decision to court, where the final amount will be determined.

Many deciding factors must be considered when calculating a settlement amount, including the following:

  1. Liability
  2. Types of injuries
  3. Extent of damages
  4. Insurance policy coverage

No two accidents are the same. An experienced truck accident lawyer understands how personal injury law will apply in your case and how much you can claim. It will be his or her goal to advocate for your rights and seek the maximum amount available.

Victims of truck accidents can seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Wrongful death

Do You Have to Go to Court for a Truck Accident?

While most cases are settled out of court, some do go to trial. If you have been injured in a truck accident and you want to recover damages for your losses, there are two possible ways to do that: by settlement negotiations or by filing a lawsuit with the courts.

Settlement negotiations

Pre-litigation is the legal process that happens before a lawsuit is filed. Evidence is collected to establish who was at fault and to calculate the extent of the damages. This is the basis for negotiations with the insurance company. If both parties can agree on a fair settlement amount, you do not have to go to court.

File a lawsuit with the courts

If a settlement cannot be agreed upon, then your lawyer can proceed with filing a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit can be a lengthy process, but it may be the best way to recover the maximum amount of compensation available. Your lawyer will present your case to the court and a judge or jury will decide on the outcome and the amount of compensation if awarded.

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Truck Accident?

Each state has its own statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit. The State of Michigan imposes a 2-year time limit for filing a lawsuit starting from the date of the accident.

It is crucial to submit your documents on time, as failure to meet the deadline will result in your case being denied. If the statute of limitations has passed, this usually means you will be prohibited from seeking any compensation for your injuries.

If you are filing a claim against a government entity or employee, Indiana law requires you to file a tort claim notice within 180 days of the incident, notifying the party that you intend to file a lawsuit against them.

There may be exceptions in your case, but don’t leave starting on your claim too long! Talk to a qualified attorney to find out how much time is remaining to file your truck accident lawsuit.

Let a Michigan Truck Accident Lawyer at Mike Morse Law Firm Help You

In the days and weeks that follow a truck accident, it is common to feel anxious and overwhelmed. You deserve compensation for the pain and suffering you have suffered following your injuries, but the process to file a claim, communicate with insurance companies, and understand your legal options may feel like too much to handle alone.

That is why the team at Mike Morse Law Firm is here to help 24/7. We pride ourselves on providing our clients with legal representation they can rely on, and we are always ready to go the distance to help our clients. 

Need answers? We are available to answer all the questions you may have, including information on your insurance policies, the statute of limitations for claims in Michigan, and whether or not you should file a lawsuit after your accident.

With over 25 years of experience in defending personal injury victims, we are well-versed in Michigan laws and have the resources and knowledge needed to fight for you. Let our local truck accident lawyers put their expertise to work for you and your family. 

Call us today at 855-MIKE-WINS to talk with one of our truck accident lawyers in a free consultation. We are also available 24/7 by text at 833-898-6453. 

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