Hit by a Truck: What Should You Do?

Truck accidents are no joke. If you have been hit by a truck it is likely that you and anyone else in the same vehicle would have been injured, perhaps seriously and your vehicle damaged too. Presuming that the accident was not your fault, and your injuries are particularly serious, you could sue the driver, or the truck company, or both. You will definitely need proof that the accident was not your fault and you will be best to leave the negotiations to an experienced personal injury attorney who has dealt with truck accidents before.

Michigan negligence rules

Michigan is a no-fault state for traffic accidents. This means that if you are injured in a traffic accident, you are expected to obtain compensation from your own insurance company. However, this doesn’t apply if the injury is serious. If your injuries involve permanent disfigurement or serious impairment of body function, or both, then you are entitled to file a personal injury claim.

In Michigan, the contributory negligence rules allow you to sue another party for negligence, but the amount of compensation depends on who was to blame for the accident. The compensation also depends on whether it is “economic” damages or “non economic” damages. These terms can be confusing, so because an understanding of them is important in a Michigan truck accident scenario, this is a brief explanation.

Economic damages are the costs you have to deal with which have an easy to calculate financial figure. The two primary economic damages are the costs of all medical treatment, i.e. treatment to date plus any predicted future treatment, as well  as the loss of earnings, i.e. wages, salary, business earnings etc. The future costs are the most difficult to get right and will no doubt be the most disputed by an insurance adjuster working for the truck driver / company. They may also be the most important, especially if the injury is more or less permanent. That’s why it is so important to have an attorney with experience of truck injuries handle the case.

Non-economic damages are much harder to calculate, but are things like “pain and suffering” and punitive damages. How do you calculate an exact amount of compensation for the often very real pain and suffering caused by the injuries?

In Michigan, economic damages are paid according to your percentage degree of fault, even if you were more than 50% at fault. For example, if you are claiming $50,000 for medical treatment and lost wages, but a court decides that you were 40% to blame for the accident, then you may be awarded 60% (100% – 40%) of what you claimed, i.e. $30,000. Non economic damages are treated differently. If you are 50% or more to blame for the accident, you cannot claim any non economic damages at all. For anything less than 50% fault, you are awarded a percentage as with economic damages.

In fact, it is best not to admit to fault at all in any accident claim and let your attorney negotiate the best deal possible. Generally, the attorney will try and negotiate an out of court settlement but will advise going to court if the case is winnable.

Federal Law Dictates Truck Personal Liability Insurance

Federal truck insurance rules allow for potentially generous compensation when a claim is won.

Truck companies are bound by Federal law when it comes to public liability insurance. It is this insurance that will be tapped if the truck driver or his / her company is at fault in a truck accident that has caused you to be injured. The amount of insurance a truck company has to have in case of an accident that a driver has caused is far higher than the amount carried by a non commercial driver, so the chance of gaining fair and substantial compensation is considerable presuming that you have effective legal representation.

Truck insurance is governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The actual amounts vary depending on the size of the vehicle and what it is carrying. For example, HAZMAT vehicles must have more insurance cover than non HAZMAT ones. The federally imposed insurance provisions can be 30 to 200 times as high as the amount of personal liability required in Michigan. This means that when you choose a personal injury attorney to handle your case, it is a god idea to look for one who has experience with FMCSA rules and truck insurance cases.