Collisions involving 18-wheelers and other commercial trucks tend to be especially traumatic. With some weighing up to 40 tons, big rigs can cause serious injuries and untold property damage when they collide with other vehicles. If you were involved in an accident with a truck, our Detroit truck accident attorneys can help you navigate the challenging weeks ahead.
At Seva Law Firm, we have a long history of success overseeing personal injury claims in Michigan. Our seasoned lawyers have helped recover more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts for our clients. Dial (248) 385-5704 to speak to a member of our team.
What Are Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance Laws?
In Michigan, drivers are required to purchase No-Fault insurance. As the name implies, if you are injured in an accident, your own coverage will kick in to cover your medical bills and other losses even if you were responsible for causing the accident. These are usually referred to as first-party benefits, and can include both Property Protection Insurance (PPI) and Personal Injury Protection (PIP).
However, changes to local insurance laws have muddied the waters. While prior to July 1, 2020, No-Fault insurance policies in the state included unlimited medical benefits, recent reforms now give motorists the option to choose from different levels of PIP coverage. These range from the original unlimited lifetime medical benefits to limited coverage amounts. If you have qualified health coverage, such as Medicare, you can even choose to opt out of purchasing PIP medical coverage entirely.
Fortunately, some PIP benefits have remained unchanged. Notably, these benefits will still cover up to 85% of lost earnings and $20 per day for replacement services for up to three years after an accident.
Sweeping changes to Michigan’s insurance laws can make it difficult to determine how to best proceed with your claim. As such, it might be in your best interests to hire a skilled truck accident attorney who can review your situation and help guide you through proceedings.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim after a Truck Accident?
Like most other states, Michigan has strict deadlines for filing a claim after an accident. Typically, the moment you’re injured, a clock starts running. If you attempt to file a claim or bring a suit outside of these deadlines, it’s unlikely that you will receive compensation.
If you were injured in a truck accident, you will usually have just a year from the date of the accident to file a first party claim for PIP benefits. Depending on your PIP medical benefits level, such claims can account for a wide range of losses such as your medical bills, lost earnings, replacement services, mileage, and attendant care.
If you want to sue for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, you will have up to three years from the date of the wreck to bring a lawsuit. In such situations, the at-fault driver will likely be represented by their insurer. However, you will only be able to succeed in a third-party claim if you can show that you were less than 50% responsible for causing the accident and that your injuries meet the criteria for a threshold injury. Typically, this threshold is defined as any injury that has led to “serious impairment of body function”.
There are a few exceptions to these deadlines. For instance, if you were under the age of 18 when the accident occurred, you will have up to a year after you turned 18 to file a claim, regardless of when the collision took place.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Crashes involving commercial trucks have a higher chance of resulting in a death or serious injury than those involving smaller vehicles. While the consequences are often devastating, the cause of such collisions can vary drastically from one accident to the next.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of truck accidents in the country:
- Driver Error: Whether it’s failing to check their blind spot before making a lane change or speeding on the highway, driver errors are one of the leading causes of truck wrecks in the country.
- Fatigue: While the trucking industry is highly regulated, with Hours of Services policies limiting the amount of time a driver can spend behind the wheel, truckers still take chances. For instance, drivers are often incentivized to complete trips quickly resulting in many tackling long-haul trips when they should be taking breaks to rest. Fatigue can inhibit drivers in many of the same ways as alcohol, leading to impaired judgment, slow reaction times, and “microsleeps” (brief sleep episodes behind the wheel).
- Speeding: Due to their immense size and weight, it can take far longer for a truck to come to a complete stop. As such, speeding truckers pose a serious risk to others on the road. Additionally, at high speeds, these drivers have less time to react to hazards, increasing their chances of causing an accident.
- Driving Under the Influence: It’s not unheard of for truckers to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol can affect your vision, alter perception, increase reaction times, and impair judgment. Many drugs—including prescription medication—can have similar effects.
- Poor Maintenance: By law, trucking companies are required to maintain their fleet to ensure safety. However, repairing these vehicles is a considerable expense, and some companies take shortcuts which can lead to mechanical failures with catastrophic results.
What Evidence Could Help Prove My Truck Wreck Claim?
To succeed in a third-party insurance claim, you will need to provide strong evidence to demonstrate liability, causation, and damages. Let’s take a look at some of the types of evidence that could play a role in your case:
- Electronic Driving Logs: Truck drivers must adhere to strict Hours of Service regulations which dictate how long they can drive and when they must take breaks. To keep tabs on their activity, commercial trucks are equipped with Electronic Logging Devices that track the driver’s time on the road. If these records show that the driver violated the Hours of Service regulations, your attorney may assert that the truck driver was fatigued which led to the collision.
- Eyewitness Statements: If anyone saw the accident take place, their deposition or testimony could help prove that the truck driver was responsible for causing the accident.
- The Official Police Accident Report: Responding officers will compile an official report on the accident. This document can include important details about the collision such as property damage, injuries, deaths, and the names of the parties involved. If you have not done so, your attorney can obtain a copy of this report on your behalf.
- Maintenance Records: Trucking companies and their drivers are required to maintain their vehicles and equipment in safe working order, and to keep up-to-date records of this work. Without regular maintenance, trucks have a higher chance of breaking down on the road and causing an accident. Your attorney may review these records to determine what caused the accident.
Find a Truck Accident Attorney in Detroit Today
If you were hurt in a collision involving a commercial truck, turn to the legal team at Seva Law Firm. We can assess your situation, answer your questions, and help determine the most strategic way to proceed with your claim. Contact us today at (248) 385-5704 or tap through to our Contact Page to lock in a free case review with a Detroit truck accident attorney.