What Damages Can I Collect for a Truck Accident?

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If it seems to you like you’re sharing the road with an ever-increasing number of big trucks, your hunch is not wrong. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports the following truck numbers for 2021:

  • 996,894 for-hire carriers
  • 813,440 private carriers
  • 83,235 other interstate motor carriers

Unfortunately, more trucks on the roads means more accidents involving them. This, in turn, means that you, as the driver of a much smaller and lighter passenger vehicle, face an ever-increasing risk of sustaining severe injuries in one of these accidents. The same goes for your passengers.

Nationwide Truck Accident Statistics

According to the National Safety Council, the following truck accident figures apply for 2020:

  • 4,842 large trucks were involved in a fatal crash.
  • 107,000 large trucks were involved in crashes resulting in an injury.
  • Large trucks accounted for 9% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes, even though they make up only 4% of all registered vehicles in the U.S.

Additional truck statistics include the following:

  • Crashes involving large trucks have increased by 52% since 2009.
  • They account for 74% of all fatal passenger vehicle fatalities.
  • They account for approximately 130,000 crash injuries each year.
  • Tractor-trailers account for 74% of fatal truck crashes, while single-unit trucks account for only 26%.
  • Nearly 75% of truck accidents involving a collision with another vehicle result in one or more fatalities.

Michigan Truck Accident Statistics

Here in Michigan, the statistics are no less alarming. The 2020 Fact Sheets published by the Michigan Department of State Police – Office of Highway Safety Planning reveal the following:

  • 78 people died in a crash involving a heavy truck or bus.
  • 2,636 people sustained injuries in one of these crashes.
  • Of the 54 pedestrians involved in such a crash, nine died.
  • Of the 19 bicyclists involved in such a crash, three died.

Truck Accident Causes

Truck accidents usually happen for one or more of the following reasons:

Determining Liability

If you sustain injuries in a truck accident, you have numerous potential people to sue, including the following:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company for which he or she works
  • The owner of the truck
  • Its manufacturer
  • The shipping company that owned the truck’s cargo
  • The company or people that loaded the cargo

Truck Driver

The truck driver can be held liable for your injuries under the following circumstances:

  • He or she drove as an independent contractor.
  • He or she drove while distracted, fatigued or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • He or she drove above the speed limit or too fast for existing road conditions.
  • He or she drove in violation of some other federal or state law.
  • He or she drove while his or her commercial driver’s license (CDL) was suspended or revoked.

Trucking Company

If the truck driver worked as the employee of a trucking company, you may be able to sue the company if the driver was acting within the scope of his or her employment duties at the time of the accident.

Truck Owner

In the event the driver or the trucking company leased the truck, you likewise may be able to sue its legal owner, especially if one or more of the following contributed to the accident:

  • Unresponsive steering system
  • Unresponsive braking system
  • Tire blowout or other tire issue

Truck Manufacturer

If the truck had a defective part or design flaw that contributed to the accident, you may also be able to sue the truck manufacturer, as well as the people or company that installed the defective part or had the responsibility for inspecting the truck and deeming it safe to be on the road.

Shipping Company

Under some circumstances, the company that owned the truck’s cargo may be at least partially liable for the accident and therefore your injuries. Shipping companies bear responsibility for hiring competent companies or drivers to transport their goods.

Cargo Loader

Finally, you may be able to sue the people or company that loaded the cargo, especially if you and your lawyer can establish that a poorly loaded or insufficiently secured load contributed to the accident.

Damages

In terms of the damages you likely can collect if you win your lawsuit, they fall into the following categories:

  • Economic
  • Noneconomic
  • Property

Economic Damages

Your economic damages consist of the actual losses you have already sustained because of the injuries you suffered in the crash and can reasonable expect to sustain in the future. They take two forms: medical expenses and loss of income.

Medical Expenses

Your immediate medical expenses include such things as the following:

  • Emergency vehicle transport to a hospital after your accident
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Emergency room assessment and treatment
  • Hospital treatment and procedures
  • Prescription drugs

Your future medical expenses could include the following:

  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Ongoing physical therapy
  • Ongoing doctor or therapist appointments
  • Whatever medical equipment you need to purchase, such as for a wheelchair, prosthesis, walker, crutches, etc.
  • Any necessary home remodeling you need to make as a result of your injuries, such as installation of grab bars in your bathroom, door widening to accommodate a wheelchair, etc.

Loss of Income

As with your medical expenses, your income loss applies not only to the wages or salary you lose while in the hospital recovering from your injuries to the greatest extent possible, but also those you can reasonably expect to face if your injuries make it impossible to return to your current job.

Noneconomic Damages

Your noneconomic damages consist of your intangible losses, such as for the following, brought about by your injuries:

  • Physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering
  • Loss of your ability to function as fully as you did prior to your injuries
  • Embarrassment to be seen in public due to the disfiguring scars your injuries leave or because you must now use a wheelchair, prosthesis or white cane to get around
  • Loss of your prior enjoyment of life

Property Damage

Your property damage includes not only the damages to your vehicle, but also to any personal property, such as a laptop, cell phone, radio, stereo system, etc. that you had in it at the time of your accident and lost because of it.

Punitive Damages

In rare circumstances, you may be able to recover punitive damages as well as the compensatory damages discussed above. To receive this type of a jury award on top of your other damages, you and your lawyer will need to prove that the actions of the defendants, or their failure to act, rose to the level of egregious.

Comparative Negligence

Keep in mind that Michigan is a modified comparative negligence state that follows the 51% rule. What this means for you in terms of your lawsuit is that the jury will ultimately determine all of the at-fault parties that contributed to your accident. If they determine that you were 51% or more responsible, you cannot collect any damages at all. If they determine that you were less than 51% responsible, they will reduce the amount of your overall award by your percentage of fault.

Obtaining Legal Help

Here at the Mike Morse Law Firm, we have been helping Michigan truck accident victims get the compensation they deserve for over 27 years. During this time, we are proud to have grown into Michigan’s largest personal injury law firm. Our team of experienced and dedicated lawyers and other legal professionals stand ready, willing and able to help you, too. So contact us today. You’ll be glad you did.

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