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Grand Rapids Truck Accident Attorneys

In 2019, there were over 16,600 crashes involving heavy trucks and buses in Michigan. With a gross vehicle weight of over 10,000 pounds, these vehicles can present a serious threat on the road. Compared to passenger vehicle accidents, truck and bus accidents are more likely to involve errors in lane use, turning, and backing. The damages involved in a truck accident are often extensive due to the size and weight of the vehicle. If you’ve been involved in an accident involving a heavy truck or bus, you need an experienced lawyer who can help you handle your case.

The Importance of a Truck Accident Lawyer

A Large Truck Approaching a Passenger Vehicle on a Two-Lane Highway
Image via Unsplash by josiahfarrow.

Truck accident cases are complex with high stakes for the parties involved. Prompt action is crucial to ensure that the evidence is preserved and you can make a strong case. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you navigate the next steps quickly and efficiently. Your attorney will assist with:

  • Hiring investigators to examine your case.
  • Working with accident reconstruction professionals.
  • Collecting witness interviews.
  • Preserving evidence.
  • Processing insurance claims.

If the accident involved a fatality, we can assist with the additional complexities that this adds to the case, such as:

  • Opening the probate estate.
  • Handling funeral and medical expenses.
  • Filing for survivors’ loss benefits.

Liability in Truck Accident Cases

A truck accident is more complex than a passenger vehicle accident. Often, several parties may carry some liability in the case:

  • The truck driver.
  • The owner of the truck or trucking company.
  • The truck’s manufacturer.
  • Distributors, suppliers, or retailers who provided defective parts related to the crash.
  • Those in the passenger vehicle.

Under Michigan law, the truck’s owner is as responsible as the truck driver in the accident. Both must provide compensation to the victim when at fault.

Multiple insurance policies may come into play in a truck accident case. Navigating various insurance claims is a complex process that’s best managed by a lawyer who knows how to properly file these accident claims and how to insist upon proper payments from the insurance companies involved. Your case may involve insurance policies for:

  • The truck driver.
  • The truck itself.
  • The truck’s trailer.
  • The goods transported inside the truck.

Evidence of Negligence in a Truck Accident

Commercial vehicle drivers are required by their employers and the law to maintain comprehensive records of the maintenance of their truck, their stops, routes, cargo weights, and work hours. These records can provide evidence of negligence if improper maintenance, driver fatigue, or an overweight vehicle contributed to an accident.

In cases in which the trucking company is at fault, we may be able to refer to the employee’s hiring documents for evidence of negligence. It is possible that the driver who caused your injuries was known to be incompetent, and hired despite evidence of previous offenses, a lack of experience, or a history of drug and alcohol abuse. Applications, job postings, interview transcripts, and training documents can all be used as evidence of negligent hiring practices.

Two types of evidence that are specific to truck accidents are the vehicle’s “black box” and records related to hours of service regulations.

The black box is a piece of equipment in trucks that collects data on the vehicle’s operations. It monitors the truck’s speed, acceleration, length of time driving, brake application, tire pressure, and a number of other elements. These metrics can provide insight into what happened before the accident, and what could have possibly contributed.

Hours of service regulations are federal laws that limit the amount of time a truck driver can work during a period of time. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that truckers can only drive for a maximum of 11 hours, and only after they have spent 10 hours not working. Truckers are required to keep logs of their time on the clock and hours spent driving. Any violations of hours of service regulations are not only illegal but can be evidence that driver fatigue contributed to your truck accident.

Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance Act

If you’re the victim of a truck accident, you’re entitled to personal injury protection (PIP) benefits under Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance Act. This law provides you with compensation for:

  • Lost wages for three years.
  • Replacement services for three years.
  • Certain allowable expenses for your lifetime.

Filing a third-party negligence lawsuit can help you get compensation for expenses not included in your PIP benefits. This may include lost wages beyond the initial three-year period and non-economic damages, otherwise known as pain and suffering.

If there was a fatality in your case, you may also file a wrongful death lawsuit. In a wrongful death lawsuit, you can pursue compensation for medical expenses incurred prior to death, funeral costs, lost wages and benefits, property damage, and emotional suffering. Survivors of the decedent, such as a spouse, child, parent, or sibling, may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

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1500 E Beltline Ave SE Suite 235
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
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Frequently Asked Questions

Navigating a truck accident case is a complex process. Our attorneys can help you understand your rights and the potential compensation that you may be entitled to in your case. Some common questions that you may have are addressed below.

How Are Truck Accidents Different from Car Accidents?

Truck accidents are usually more damaging than car accidents. Why are truck accidents so dangerous? The size of the vehicles is a major contributor — semi-trucks are not only large, but often carry heavy cargo which can cause further damage. Operating a truck is also very complex. Any maintenance issue, negligence, or inexperience on the part of the driver can lead to a driver quickly losing control and causing immense damage.

Legal cases that focus on these collisions often involve multiple defendants, because the trucking company and their insurance provider will work with the driver. Michigan is a no-fault state, so insurance is supposed to cover collision damages — in theory. If you or the truck driver decide to pursue a personal injury claim, you will be up against them, their employer, their insurance company, and attorneys. This differs from car accident claims which do not involve third-party liability as often.

The greater scale of truck accidents requires the attention of an experienced legal team. Goodman Acker P.C. can help you take on insurance providers and trucking companies.

Who Is At Fault in My Case?

There are many parties who may carry some responsibility for a truck accident. It’s crucial that a thorough investigation take place to determine who is at fault so you can receive the compensation you’re entitled to from any party who contributed to the accident. Truck accidents can have many contributing factors, such as:

  • Faulty parts from the manufacturer that make it impossible for the truck driver to avoid the accident.
  • Lack of maintenance on the part of the trucking company, which compromises the safety and operability of the vehicle.
  • Poorly conducted inspections that overlooked safety hazards.
  • Lack of training from the trucking company.
  • Dangerous scheduling practices on the part of the trucking company that force drivers to work long hours or rush to get to their destination.
  • Improper loading of hazardous materials.
  • Failure to properly secure cargo on the truck or trailer.
  • Improper log keeping that results in truck drivers working excessively long hours and succumbing to truck driver fatigue.
  • Exceeding trucker speed limits.

Is There a Statute of Limitations on Truck Accidents?

In Michigan, you must file your lawsuit within three years of the date of the accident to sue the truck driver or trucking company. If you’re filing a claim for benefits that were not covered by the insurance company, you must do so within one year of the accident.

The sooner you file your case, the better. A great deal of evidence must be collected, and these details are more difficult to gather as time passes. The truck must receive a thorough inspection before repairs are performed to accurately identify the cause of the accident if faulty parts are involved. Witnesses will give more accurate and reliable statements shortly after the accident than they will years later.

What Kind of Settlement Can I Expect?

The size of your settlement will depend greatly upon the extent of the damages. The amount of the settlement is based on factors such as:

  • Severity of the injuries.
  • Degree of psychological and emotional trauma.
  • Loss of income and wages.
  • Long-term impact on quality of life.

Free Legal Consultations Available 24/7 in Grand Rapids!

At Goodman Acker P.C., our experienced truck accident lawyers understand the complexities of commercial vehicle collision cases. We are knowledgeable about how truck accidents can happen, who may be at fault and the evidence that may be available to prove liability. Our legal team can help you recover evidence that is relevant to your claim, build a case, and pursue the compensation you deserve.

Send us a message or call (248) 286-8100 24/7 for a free consultation with our legal team.