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I Was Hit By a Semi-Truck In Michigan and Injured – What Do I Do?

May 24, 2021

A major difference between an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle (semi truck) and an auto accident is determining the cause. When one car collides with another car in Michigan, it can be fairly straightforward to determine why the crash occurred. Car accidents typically are the result of the fault of one driver. This often is a motorist failing to yield, speeding, texting while driving, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and other reasons.

However, when a motorist is involved in a serious collision with an 18-wheeler, there may be a completely different set of circumstances. Semi accidents tend to occur because of the sheer size of the truck. A typical, fully-loaded commercial vehicle can weigh in excess of 80,000 pounds.

Big rigs can’t stop as quickly as a car. These trucks haul cargo that can become loose and fall on the road, causing motorists to take action that causes an accident. A semi also has much more complex systems than the average sedan, such as braking and signals. And there’s more chance of an equipment failure or manufacturer defect with a big rig. Lawsuits for a motorist’s injuries can be caused by any of these plus a driver’s training, his or her excessive hours of operation, a lack of maintenance on the semi, and many other factors the involve both the driver and his or her employer.

Exactly what is a commercial truck?

A commercial truck is a vehicle that’s used for the transport of commercial goods or passengers. These can include semis, tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, delivery vehicles, freight trucks, dump trucks, commercial busses, and other large vehicles.

The Federal Motor Carrier Regulations (FMCRs) defines a commercial vehicle as any of the following:

  • Having a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight of more than 10,000 pounds;
  • Is designed or used to transport more than eight passengers (with the driver) for money;
  • Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers (with the driver) but isn’t used to transport passengers for compensation; or
  • Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under federal regulations.

What is the first thing to do after a truck accident?

Call law enforcement (the local police, sheriff, or Michigan state highway patrol) and see that everyone is out of danger. Importantly, don’t speak with others, including the trucking company’s investigators or insurance adjusters if they arrive on the scene. Remember these things to do when involved in a semi accident:

  1. Stay calm and help the injured. Call 911 for anyone who’s injured, but don’t move injured passengers unless it’s necessary to avoid further injury or danger.
  2. Contact law enforcement .No matter if it appears that the accident with the big rig looks to be minor, it’s very important to call the police immediately to file a police report.
  3. Document all injuries. Extremely serious injuries frequently do not to present or become immediately known after the truck accident. You should make a list of all injuries and describe the pain you and other passengers are having—even if it seems to be minor at the time.
  4. Gather as much information as possible. Collect all the information you can at the accident scene. This includes:
  • All injuries and damage to your vehicle;
  • The precise location of the semi accident;
  • The time, weather conditions, and direction other vehicles were traveling at the time;
  • A description of how the truck accident happened;
  • Contact information for all police officers and witnesses at the scene, as well as the contact information, driver’s license number, vehicle license plate number, and insurance information for the other drivers in the accident;
  1. Take photos. Take as many pictures as you can of the scene, including vehicle damage, injuries to drivers and passengers, and any skid marks on the road next to a measure (like a shoe or book to estimate the size and length of the mark).
  2. Cooperate with police. However, you should consult with a Michigan truck accident attorney before accepting responsibility or blaming others.
  3. Don’t leave the scene. Of course, if you’re being taken to the hospital by ambulance, you can’t stay. But otherwise, remain at the accident scene until all other drivers and police have left.

How do I deal with a trucking company and its insurance carriers?

Remember: you don’t speak with any of them unless your attorney is there. You should engage the services of an experienced auto accident attorney to discuss any issues with the trucking company, including their defense counsel, investigators, and insurance claims adjusters.

Can I still win if I was partially at fault?

Yes, you can still recover damages in a Michigan semi accident lawsuit if you were partially at-fault. Michigan law provides that if you’re found to be more than 50% at-fault for the truck accident, you can’t recover any non-economic damages for pain and suffering. But if you’re found 50% or less at-fault for the accident, your non-economic and economic damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault.

Who can be sued in a truck case or wrongful death case?

Anyone who is injured or the family of a person who’s killed in a semi accident can bring an action for pain and suffering damages, provided the driver or the truck company (or other defendant) is responsible for the accident.

How much money can I receive?

This depends on the nature and severity of your injuries, the amount of the insurance policy limits available for your injuries from the trucking company, and several other factors.

Are trucks required by federal law to carry insurance?

Yes. Trucks weighing less than 10,001 pounds must have a minimum of $300,000 in liability insurance. Trucks weighing over 10,001 pounds must carry $750,000 in liability insurance. In addition, if a truck is transporting hazardous materials, the owner of the truck must carry between $1 million and $5 million in liability insurance depending on the type of hazardous material that’s transported.

What is a third-party claim?

A third-party truck accident case is between the truck accident victim and the at-fault driver and trucking company for damages caused by their negligence. In a third-party case, the semi accident victim can ask for non-economic damages for pain and suffering.

Contact us

You can see that an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle with an auto can be much more complex than a crash between two cars. You should rely on the expertise of an experienced semi truck accident attorney.

If you or a family member has been seriously injured in a semi accident in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. We will help you pursue compensation against the driver and the trucking company who is responsible.

For a free consultation with an experienced auto accident attorney in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after-hours, at home or in the hospital, to accommodate you.

Contact us today!