BY: Matthew Curtis | IN: Personal Injury
Last year, nearly 13,000 semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles were involved in accidents on Michigan’s highways. Unfortunately, with more people traveling the roads and driving while distracted or drowsy, this number is expected to increase in the coming years.
Due to the sheer size of commercial trucks – most of which weigh between 10,000 and 80,000 pounds – accidents involving them often result in more serious injuries than crashes involving passenger vehicles.
The severity of the injuries, however, is not the only thing that differentiates truck collisions from automobile accidents. When someone is injured in a truck accident in Michigan:
For these reasons, personal injury claims stemming from truck accidents can be extremely complicated. People injured in a collision with a large commercial vehicle should consult an experienced truck accident attorney – one who understands the applicable federal and state laws, as well as Michigan’s unique no-fault insurance system.
The fact is, crashes involving large trucks tend to result in catastrophic personal injuries, including death. This is due to the sheer size of the truck compared to the size of a standard passenger vehicle.
Various other factors contribute to the severity of truck accident injuries, including:
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued regulations that govern large trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds. At the state level, the Michigan Department of Public Safety has adopted these regulations.
Some of the regulations with which trucks and trucking companies must comply include:
At the state level, Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance Act governs truck accident claims and provides coverage to persons injured in truck crashes. Under the no-fault system, victims of truck accidents are entitled to personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, which include: 1) unlimited lifetime payment of certain allowable expenses, 2) lost wages for three years, and 3) replacement services for three years.
Unlike passenger vehicle crashes, numerous parties are usually involved in truck accidents. These include:
In addition, the truck’s manufacturer and any distributors, suppliers, or retailers that provided defective parts which contributed to the accident may be held responsible for the crash.
A third-party negligence lawsuit may be brought against the at-fault truck driver, the truck owner and the insurance company for any damages not covered by Michigan no-fault insurance. This includes non-economic damages (i.e., pain and suffering) and excess economic loss damages (lost wages beyond the three-year period under the No-Fault Act).
If a person dies in an accident with a large truck, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed.
Numerous insurance policies can be involved in truck accident cases, making things even more complicated.
Large trucks frequently have one policy covering the truck and another policy insuring the truck driver. Meanwhile, some trucking companies have separate policies to insure their trailers and to insure the goods being transported.
When different policies issued by multiple insurance companies are at play, it is critical to properly identify the insurance carrier that is liable. This way, the injured person’s claim is preserved.
Trucking accidents can be complex and time-consuming. The attorneys at Sommers Schwartz understand the federal and state regulations that govern truck drivers and trucking companies, as well as the nuances of Michigan’s no-fault law. If you’ve been injured in a Michigan trucking accident, contact Sommers Schwartz today.
View all posts byMatthew Curtis
Matthew Curtis is a senior shareholder and member of the Board of Directors at Sommers Schwartz, P.C. For the past 30 years, he has successfully litigated complex personal injury and medical malpractice cases throughout Michigan, and across the United States.