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Who can sue after a truck accident injury or death in Michigan?

Your legal rights and ability to file a lawsuit following a truck accident injury or fatality under Michigan law – even if you are found partly at fault


A lawsuit for a person who is injured or killed in a truck accident in Michigan is very different from lawsuits brought in other states because Michigan is a No Fault state, meaning that accident victims – or loved ones of people who were tragically killed in truck wrecks – are limited to pursuing a lawsuit only for claims seeking pain and suffering compensation.

If the injuries are serious or if a victim was killed, a lawsuit may also include a claim for what is called “excess economic loss.” Unlike in many other states, claims for medical bills and wage loss are paid by a person’s own auto insurance company. There are no claims for punitive damages under Michigan law (which sadly helps explain why Michigan has some of the highest numbers of truck accidents on our roads, as truck drivers who are considered too unsafe to be employed in other states that do have punitive damages often come – or “grasshop” – to states like ours where they can still be hired).

As an attorney, I’ve litigated serious truck accident cases for more than 20 years, and I’m the Past President of the AAJ Truck Accident Lawyer Litigation Group, and the current President of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association, so I’m very familiar with all of the parties who can sue and who can pursue a truck accident lawsuit.

In Michigan, this can include:

  • Anyone who is injured seriously enough to qualify under Michigan’s serious impairment of body function injury threshold law.
  • The family members of a person killed in a truck accident, as long as another person or entity is responsible for the accident.
  • This includes children, who can sue through parents or guardians.
  • Truck drivers, if someone or something else was at-fault for the accident. People tend to forget that often it is the passenger car that causes a crash, and so many of my truck accident cases involve helping truckers injured on the job. Here’s more information for truck drivers who have been in crashes and need legal help.

What if more than one person is ‘at fault’ in a causing truck wreck?

Most of the time, one party is completely at fault for the truck accident. But sometimes both drivers involved in a crash or wreck share some responsibility or fault.

Michigan is a modified comparative negligence state, so people who may be found partially at fault for a truck accident can still pursue a lawsuit in Michigan for injuries and pain and suffering if they can show they were less than 50% at fault for the wreck. Drivers who are found to be over 50% can still recover excess economic loss, reduced by the percentage of negligence.

Therefore, if you are found to be more than 50% at-fault for a wreck, you’re only barred from recovering any non-economic damages for pain and suffering. But if you are found less than 50% at-fault for the accident you can purse a lawsuit, but your non-economic (and economic damages as above) will be reduced by the percentage of fault.

Finally, even if you are at-fault in a serious accident, you will still be entitled to Michigan No Fault insurance benefits, also called PIP benefits (short for Personal Injury Protection). This is because, under our No Fault system, benefits are awarded regardless of who caused the crash.

Feel free to call our attorneys at 800-777-0028 for free advice about your circumstances. We’re here to answer your questions, and it never hurts to understand all of your legal rights and options.

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Blog Author Steven M. Gursten
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