Michigan Truck Accident Lawyers
Semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, big-rigs, and other large commercial vehicles are necessary for the United States economy. However, they can pose a serious threat to motorists. While the risk of an accident is incredibly low when these vehicles are operated safely, they can cause tremendous damage when an accident happens. Unfortunately, safety lapses are common in the trucking industry, resulting in an unacceptable number of preventable injuries and deaths.
Truck Accident Statistics
In 2018, there were 15,539 Michigan truck and bus accidents. Of these occurrences,
- 113 resulted in at least one fatality.
- 2,662 resulted in at least one injury.
- 12,764 resulted in property damage only.
The most common types of trucks involved in these accidents were:
- Semi-trucks (separate tractor and trailer):
- 5,838 accidents
- 58 fatal accidents
- 1,196 accidents involving injuries
- Single-unit trucks with two axles:
- 3,420 accidents
- 26 fatal accidents
- 600 accidents involving injuries
- Large busses (16+ passengers):
- 1,807 accidents
- six fatal accidents
- 304 accidents involving injuries
Causes of Michigan Semi-Truck Accidents
A truck driver’s use of alcohol or drugs causes many accidents involving injuries or fatalities. Distracted driving also causes a significant number of harmful accidents. In addition, there are other common reasons why semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles are involved in collisions.
Truck drivers operate massive, dangerous vehicles daily. Although most truck drivers realize the importance of attentiveness and safe driving and take these values seriously, long hours and fatigue can take a toll. Many truck accidents result from truck driver negligence. Accidents attributable to driver error are frequently caused by:
- Distracted driving
- Intoxicated driving
- Drowsy driving
- Aggressive driving
Poorly Maintained Vehicles
Maintaining a semi-truck is time-consuming and expensive, and improperly maintained trucks are much more likely to be involved in accidents. Because of this, the law requires owners and operators to maintain these vehicles properly. A few of the most common maintenance-related issues that contribute to accidents are:
- Improperly inflated or overly worn tires.
- Unbalanced or worn-out brakes.
- Broken turn signals and taillights.
- Damaged coupling devices.
Occasionally, some part of a truck is defective and can cause the truck driver to lose control of the vehicle. A defective part may mean the crash is not (or not entirely) the truck driver’s fault. In these cases, the trucking company or the part’s manufacturer may ultimately be responsible (and liable) for damages caused by a defective part. Examples of crucial parts that may be defective and cause accidents include:
- Underride guards
- Fuel tanks
- Lighting elements
- Steering mechanisms
Improperly Loaded Cargo
Loaded semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. To safely carry this much cargo, a truck must be properly loaded. Specific federal laws govern the correct procedures for transporting cargo. If a truck is loaded unevenly or is overloaded, its driver can easily lose control of the rig. Improper loading dramatically increases the risk of a serious truck accident.
The vast majority of Detroit-area truck accidents could be avoided by taking the proper safety precautions. Whether an accident was caused by a negligent truck driver, trucking company, or manufacturer, those injured in the accident can pursue a claim for damages through a Michigan personal injury lawsuit. At Sommers Schwartz, our dedicated team of injury advocates works around the clock to provide our clients with the elite level of representation they deserve.
Damages in Detroit Truck Accident Lawsuits
Trucks are a significant threat to motorists because they are massive, cumbersome, and difficult to maneuver. Drivers and passengers involved in Michigan semi-truck accidents often sustain life-changing injuries—if they are lucky enough to survive.
Typically, emergency responders will transport accident victims to the hospital. After a major truck accident, accident victims may need to spend days, weeks, or months recovering from physical injuries. Once released from the hospital, truck accident victims must often undergo a lengthy course of physical therapy to regain their abilities. However, this rarely marks the end of the accident’s effects on a victim’s life.
Physical recovery is only the first step of the recovery process. Often, accident victims find the months after their physical recovery to be the most challenging. Post-recovery, accident victims must deal with a seemingly endless flow of medical bills. Also, during this time, most people fully begin to realize the impact that their injuries will have on the rest of their lives. For example, sports and other activities that provided joy may no longer be possible; keeping up with young children or grandchildren may be challenging; returning to work may be difficult or impossible.
Truck accident victims who successfully pursue personal injury lawsuits can obtain various damages to help reimburse them for both their direct injuries and the secondary effects that impact their lives. These are called “economic” and “non-economic” damages, both of which can be recovered in a Michigan personal injury lawsuit.
Economic damages are those that can easily be assigned a monetary value, including:
- Lost wages
- Decrease in future earning capacity
- Medical expenses, including medical bills and hospital expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Property damage
- Any other out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel to and from doctor’s appointments
Non-economic damages are those that are harder to quantify and include:
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of activities
- Worsening of existing injuries
- The temporary or permanent loss of relationships
There are no damages caps for economic or non-economic damages in Michigan truck accident cases; a jury can award whatever amount it finds appropriate. This highlights the importance of working with an experienced Detroit truck accident lawyer who can create a compelling case to recover the maximum amount of damages.
The Michigan Modified Comparative Fault Doctrine
While some accidents result from only one party’s negligence, that is not always the case. Sometimes, a jury will determine that an accident victim shares some responsibility for causing an accident. The accident victim may have committed a minor traffic infraction or failed to take steps to avoid an accident that the jury believed was avoidable.
In these cases, Michigan law uses the doctrine of modified comparative fault to determine the damages that plaintiffs can recover compensation for their injuries. Section 600.2959 of the Michigan Compiled Laws provides that an accident victim partially at fault will have their total damages award reduced by their percentage of fault. With economic damages, a plaintiff may recover regardless of their own percentage of fault; however, the amount of their damages will be reduced accordingly. If a plaintiff’s fault exceeds 51 percent, they cannot recover non-economic damages at all.
For example, assume the car driver is involved in a car-truck accident and sustains $400,000 in damages. These damages consist of $100,000 in economic damages and $300,000 in non-economic damages.
- If Jakub is 20 percent at fault, he will recover $80,000 in economic damages and $240,000 in non-economic damages.
- However, if the jury determines that Jakub was 60 percent at fault, he will only recover $40,000 in economic damages and no non-economic damages.
How Sommers Schwartz Attorneys Can Help Michigan Accident Victims
Choosing a personal injury law firm to represent you in your Detroit truck accident case is a critical decision. With over 40 years of experience handling a wide range of injury claims, the dedicated team of attorneys at Sommers Schwartz has developed an effective approach to the recovery process.
At Sommers Schwartz, P.C., we are here to help you and your family through the recovery process. We help create a safer society by holding accountable those who hurt others through their negligent actions. Our dedicated team of Detroit injury lawyers has decades of collective experience representing injury victims in all types of Michigan truck accident cases. Sommers Schwartz’s lawyers enjoy a national reputation for excellence, and we strive to live up to and further that reputation with every client we help.
Case evaluation – We offer all prospective clients a free case evaluation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys who will listen to you and answer any questions. We will not pressure you to move forward with your case; instead, we will help you understand your options. If you decide to pursue legal action, we will explain the process in detail, helping to provide you with confidence and peace of mind.
Investigation – Once you allow Sommers Schwartz to join your team, we will conduct a thorough investigation. This includes examining the evidence, speaking to any witnesses, researching your case, reviewing medical records and reports, and contacting any insurance company or other party that could be a potential source of compensation.
Negotiations – As skilled negotiators, the attorneys at Sommers Schwartz can often secure fair out-of-court settlement offers after speaking with the other party’s insurance company or lawyer. If we can reach a settlement agreement, you will typically receive compensation much more quickly.
File a lawsuit – As seasoned litigators, our team of Detroit truck accident lawyers will not back down from a case merely because the other side is not willing to settle. If the other party is unwilling to make a fair offer, we will formally file a lawsuit on your behalf in either state or federal court without unnecessary delay.
Discovery – During the discovery phase of a personal injury lawsuit, the parties exchange information to get a better idea of what caused the accident and the impact it has had and will continue to have on your life. This includes submitting written questions called interrogatories and obtaining the other party’s verbal testimony, witnesses, records, and experts.
Mediation – Sometimes, the judge presiding over your case may require the parties to meet with a neutral third-party mediator in hopes of coming to a non-trial resolution. The recommendation of a mediator is not binding but may help the parties come to an agreement.
Trial – If all attempts at negotiation and mediation fail, the case will proceed to trial. While most truck accident cases settle before trial, those that do not are presented to a judge or jury. After the trial, the jury or judge will render a verdict as to whether the defendant is liable for your injuries and losses along with their determination of the appropriate amount of damages.
When you choose Sommers Schwartz to represent you, we provide you with the benefit of our many years of experience. Because of our steadfast commitment to aggressively pursuing your right to compensation, you are in good hands.
Contact an Experienced Detroit Personal Injury Attorney for Immediate Assistance With Your Truck Accident Claim
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a Michigan truck accident, contact the dedicated team of attorneys at Sommers Schwartz, P.C. For more than 40 years, we have fought for individuals and families involved in trucking accidents in Detroit and across the state, helping them pursue the compensation they need and deserve. We handle all types of motor vehicle accidents, including truck crashes, throughout Michigan.
To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim, call us today at 800-783-0989 to schedule a free consultation. Because we work on a contingency basis, we will not send you a bill for our services unless we can help you obtain compensation for your injuries.