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Michigan Truck Accident Lawyers – Some Basics on Michigan Truck Accidents

Michigan Truck Accident Lawyers:

Some of the most tragic accidents on our roadways involve large trucks or so-called commercial trucks. Due to their large size, and therefore the huge force in which they travel, even a minor impact with a normal size car can cause severe personal injury or even death.

Truck drivers, truck companies and large truck manufacturers are held to higher standards than regular motor vehicles. In fact, the federal government has promulgated Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations that specifically govern how motor carriers must operate. These rules mandate how trucking companies and their drivers must maintain and inspect their vehicles, driver hours, vehicle markings and other rules.

Read on to learn about large trucks and trucking accidents.

What exactly is a commercial truck?

A commercial truck is a large motor vehicle, like an 18-wheeler, used in the course of business or for the transport of commercial goods. Many commercial vehicles are used for interstate commerce, but most are utilized for local travel. Examples of commercial vehicles are 18-wheelers, big rigs and tractor trailers.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a commercial motor vehicle is one of the following:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more.
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation.
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation.
  • Is transported hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards.
  • What are some common causes of commercial truck accidents?

The reasons for commercial truck accidents vary. A very prominent factor is driver fatigue. Under federal regulation, truck drivers are only allowed to spend a certain amount of time on the road operating their vehicles without rest. In addition, federal regulation mandates certain rest periods that dictate when drivers cannot operate their commercial vehicles.

Another common cause of commercial truck accidents is speed. Large trucks and trailers are difficult to stop, and the faster they travel the harder it is for their operators to control and stop the vehicle when necessary.

Other causes for serous commercial truck accidents includes inclement weather, faulty trucks and motor carriers that have not been properly maintained.

Why is a large truck more likely to cause severe injuries?

Commercial motor vehicles are very heavy. When fully-loaded, some large trucks can weigh more than 20 times what a standard motor vehicle weighs. When a vehicle that heavy travels, especially at a high rate of speed, the force and velocity it creates is immense. Even a minor crash with a small car or truck can cause massive damage.

The force such a collision has on the occupants inside the vehicle can cause severe whiplash. As the body and head moves forward and snaps back, serious personal injury can occur, including disc herniation and broken bones. Further, the forward and back movement can cause shearing within the skull, creating severe brain damage and traumatic brain injury.

If a commercial vehicle causes an accident, am I entitled to lost wages and pain and suffering compensation?

Yes. However, this answer to this question is a little complex. Under Michigan law, your own car insurance carrier is responsible for paying lost wage benefits. If you do not have car insurance – you were a passenger – the auto insurance carrier for a resident relative or the car you occupied will be responsible for paying wage loss benefits.

The compensation for pain and suffering though comes from the commercial vehicle, so long as you can prove the commercial vehicle was at least 50% at-fault for causing the accident. Proving liability is accomplished in different ways. Typically the police will prepare a traffic crash report following a commercial vehicle crash and provides ample detail about who was at-fault. However, independent witnesses are also important to prove fault as well as photographic evidence.

It is important that trained experts investigate the accident scene as quickly as possible following an accident so important evidence can be detected and catalogued.

If the commercial vehicle is at-fault, who can I sue for compensation?

Under Michigan law, the proper defendants in a bodily injury case for pain and suffering include the driver and the company that owned the vehicle. Assuming the driver is not an independent contractor, the driver will almost always be covered by the insurance company that insures the company that owns the vehicle. Because trucking drivers are agents for their employers, it is a long-standing principal the trucking company is also responsible for the negligent acts of their drivers.

If I have been involved in a commercial truck accident, should I contact a lawyer?

Yes. As explained above, even if you were the cause of the accident, you are still entitled to Michigan no-fault benefits. These include the payment of medical expenses, wage loss benefits and other benefits. In addition, commercial trucking companies began their investigation into accidents involving their vehicles immediately. You can be rest-assured they will work tirelessly to paint the accident in the best possible light for them.

As a result, it is important to have hard-working, diligent attorneys willing to fight for you just as quickly. The Michigan trucking lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. will hire investigators and trucking experts to prove your case and obtain the compensation you are entitled to under the law.

Please feel free to Call Lee Free at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) for our Michigan trucking accident lawyers can answer your questions and fight for you.