A semi truck accident can change you life in an instant. But the laws about tractor trailers are different, so make sure you know how to make the most out of your truck accident claims.
Physics says that larger vehicles cause more serious accidents at the same speed. Trucks' increased inertia makes them harder to maneuver, and cause them to take longer to stop. That means semi truck accidents often cause serious, even life-changing injuries.
The fact that a truck is involved in your auto accident doesn't change the way you collect no-fault benefits. You and your car accident attorney will still file a claim with your own personal injury protection (PIP) auto insurance for things like medical expenses, and short-term wage loss, attendant care, and replacement services. But in more serious accidents, those benefits don't cover everything. That's why Michigan law allows for a fault-based, third party lawsuit in cases of death, disfigurement or serious impairment of bodily function.
Because more trucking accidents involve these kinds of serious injuries, more truck accidents go beyond Michigan no-fault benefits into a fault-based third party lawsuit. It is in the third party case where all the other legal differences come in to play.
No-fault isn't the only kind of insurance that comes into play in a serious motor vehicle accident. Truck drivers and shipping companies are legally required to maintain liability insurance to cover damages caused by their drivers' negligence in a personal injury lawsuit. Depending on what the truck is towing, there may be yet another insurance policy that covers damage done by dangerous cargo including fuel or explosive materials.
Most liability insurance policies set a limit on the amount that will be paid on a claim. In a typical third party auto accident claim, the at-fault driver's single liability insurance policy can often be exhausted by plaintiffs with permanent injuries or ongoing needs. The commercial liability policies held by trucking companies and owner-operator truck drivers are each much higher than the $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident included in ordinary drivers' policies. When you have been seriously injured in a tractor trailer accident, all those insurance policies can stack up to go much further to cover your long-term disability, pain and suffering, and other damages not covered by your no-fault insurance.
Before you get to the damages in a third party tort lawsuit, you and your personal injury attorney will need to prove that the truck driver was at fault for the accident. This is another way semi truck accidents are different than two-car accidents. Federal safety regulations require truckers to maintain a log book that lists:
Federal and state regulations place limits on all these factors, as well as setting lower speed limits and restrictions on where semis are allowed to drive.
After a semi truck accident, all those details can work to your advantage. Your auto accident attorney can use the trucker's log book to show violations in the way he or she was driving. If the truck driver's defense is that a mechanical problem caused the crash, the log book will also show whether the trucking company or the owner-operator had taken care to provide the necessary maintenance for the equipment. When violations show up in the log book, your auto lawyer can use them to argue that the driver was too tired, distracted, or overworked, and that is what caused the crash. The log book can also demonstrate negligence in the care of the cab and trailer.
A semi-truck accident isn't just a car crash with a bigger vehicle. The laws, regulations, and insurance that surround the shipping industry make a trucking accident lawsuit more complicated. At Sachs Waldman, we have extensive experience helping truck accident victims recover PIP benefits from no-fault insurance providers and liability damages from shipping companies and the truckers themselves. We can help you get your damages covered. Contact our Detroit personal injury law office at 1-800-638-6722.