Free Consultation (800) 272-4080
Call Now (800) 272-4080

Trucking Accidents In Kalamazoo, Michigan

We read in newspaper articles or see on the local and national news catastrophic accidents involving large trucks, especially on busy highways running through Kalamazoo, such as 131 or 94.  The accidents are unfortunate and expose us to the danger of large trucks on our roads and the importance of enforcement of restrictions and regulations on trucking companies.

Crashes involving large trucks inflict serious damages on our roadways each year.  These accidents are serious and often those involved sustain catastrophic injuries and in the worst cases, death.  The Buchanan Firm team strives to educate on how these accidents occur, and what to do if you or a family member, or a friend are involved in an accident involving a commercial trucking vehicle.  It is important to seek the advice of experienced Kalamazoo truck accident attorneys who understand commercial trucking regulations for both interstate and intrastate motor carriers who can ensure the victims receive fair and just compensation for the damages sustained because of an accident.

Truck Crash Statistics

Though the statistics vary depending on who is issuing the report, the commonality is that truck crashes are rising and often involve a serious injury or a fatality.  The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) release the following statistics regarding trucking accidents in the United States:

  • There are approximately 500,000 truck accidents each year
  • From these accidents, there are approximately 5,000 deaths each year
  • Only about 2% of the truck collision fatalities each year are truck drivers, and the other approximately 98% are the individuals in passenger vehicles, or non-occupants such as cyclists and pedestrians
  • One in eight traffic fatalities involves a truck collision
  • In 2008, 68% of all fatal truck accidents occurred in rural areas
  • In 2008, 66% of all fatal truck accidents occurred during daylight hours
  • In 2000, commuters lost 98,000 hours nationally due to congestion caused by trucking accidents

State and Federal Trucking Regulations

There are several state and federal rules that apply to commercial trucks.  When commercial trucks are involved in an accident, it is important for the victims of the accident to be educated on the specific rules and regulations that govern commercial trucking to confirm each rule and regulation was being adhered to at the time of the accident.  Some rules and regulations include:

  • drug and alcohol testing
  • qualification of drivers
  • hours of service
  • vehicle inspection and maintenance
  • driver performance enhancement training programs
  • fatigue management

Common Causes of Trucking Accidents

If you, a family member, or a friend is a victim of a trucking accident near Kalamazoo, Michigan, the question of what actually caused the accident is often complex and more complicated than a simple automobile traffic accident.  There are complex relationships between truck drivers, trucking companies, and owners of trucks that require careful research and investigation. Understanding the common causes for trucking accidents, the relationships among the persons and entities related to the truck will assist in determining whether you have a valid claim and how you will pursue that claim.

Some common causes of trucking accidents include:

  • Driver Error (including, but not limited to, use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, speeding, fatigue, inattention, distractions, work environment, unfamiliarity with the road, and lack of training)
  • Equipment Problems (this can include manufacturer mistakes or design errors, but most common is failing to properly maintain equipment)
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Speeding
  • Weather conditions (driving in conditions of poor visibility due to snow, rain, fog or smoke)
  • Oversized or overloaded truck

Who Can Be Held Liable?

Unlike an automobile accident, several parties may be held liable in a trucking accident.  The parties who can be held liable depend upon the circumstances of the accident and therefore, each case is different.  Common parties that may be held liable in trucking accidents include:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company
  • Manufacturers of defective parts
  • Contractors
  • Employers
  • Parties that loaded the truck
  • The shipper that retained the trucking company
  • Insurance companies

Trucking Accidents vs. Auto Accidents

A truck accident involves a truck that weighs over 10,000 pounds.  Some examples of trucks that exceed this weight limit (besides the typical semi-trailers) include gravel trucks, snowplows, garbage trucks, and dump trucks.

What Can You Recover?

In Michigan, we operate under the no-fault insurance system.  The no-fault system means that drivers involved in an accident, whether at fault or not, can collect insurance benefits (PIP benefits) from their respective insurance providers.  No-fault applies in accidents involving trucks, but many other issues are involved and it is important to seek professional advice regarding additional issues such as, different insurance policies, the independent status of truck drivers, and the location of trucking companies or entities with ownership interests in the truck.

First party claim

Individuals involved in a trucking accident in Michigan with the proper automobile insurance may file a first party claim against their own insurance company.  A first party claim is to recover expenses (also known as no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) benefits) which include:

  • Medical expenses
  • In-home attendant care
  • Replacement services (i.e., household chores and childcare)
  • Special transportation and medical mileage
  • Wage loss

Third party claim

In addition to first party benefits, those involved in a trucking accident may file a third-party claim against the other party or parties involved in the accident, alleging that the party or parties were negligent.  A third-party claim may recover damages for pain and suffering.  In Michigan, one can pursue pain and suffering damages if he or she meets the statutory threshold of death, permanent serious disfigurement, or serious impairment of body function.  An experienced trucking litigation attorney can help you to determine whether the injuries you or a loved one sustained meet the requirements to pursue a claim against the negligent party.

Trucking Rapid Response Teams and Importance of Timely Accident Investigation

Federal regulations dictate that trucking companies must carry insurance worth at least $750,000.  To limit liability and reduce the amount of settlements and verdicts, trucking companies and insurance companies often employ large defense firms with rapid response teams to arrive on the scene of a trucking accident.  These teams often arrive at the scene of a serious crash within an hour, with one goal in mind: minimize damaging evidence by hampering the investigation.  Retaining the right attorney in a timely manner can help you overcome the dishonest tactics employed by rapid response teams and defense lawyers for trucking companies.

What to Do If You or a Loved One Is Involved in a Crash with a Commercial Truck

After a commercial truck accident, there are several important steps one can take immediately and in the weeks following the accident.  It is important to immediately seek the advice of legal counsel to protect yourself and to ensure that all information and evidence is preserved.

Immediately following a trucking accident, one should:

  • Contact the police and seek medical attention
  • Obtain contact information for all parties involved and any witnesses
  • Observe other parties involved and document all observations/conversations
  • Notify your auto insurance company and apply for no-fault benefits
  • Review your auto policy or contact a trucking specialist attorney to review your policy for any notification requirements and uncoordinated benefits
  • Refrain from signing a release or providing a statement to an insurance adjuster before seeking the advice of an attorney

If you or anyone that you know was injured in a trucking accident, due to the complex nature of Michigan trucking law, seek the advice of experienced trucking attorneys at Buchanan Firm.  The trucking accident team at the firm understand the frustration and will stage full investigations into the trucking accident and determine the cause of the accident and who is responsible for the resulting injuries.  Buchanan Firm also offers an exclusive, No Fee Promise. If they don’t win, then you don’t pay.

Here is what a recent tucking accident client had to say about our firm:

While our world was still reeling from the accident and doctors still finding more broken bones, representatives of the driver at fault were calling my wife’s hospital room. Still feeling vulnerable and my hands full with kids and daily duties I felt we needed representation. A family friend referred us to the Buchanan Firm and we couldn’t be more happy. It took a huge strain off of me and allowed me to tend to my wife and take care of my children’s needs. The Firm really did their homework, there were no pesky phone calls. When it was all wrapped up I was blown away by the amount of information they had compiled and the work they had put into organizing it all. My original meeting with them was as a total stranger but would consider them friends today. Thank You Buchanan Firm!

 -Michele Blough, injured by a commercial truck in Michigan