Truck accident lawyer answers the question: Who covers a trucker’s insurance after a crash?
I blog about truck accidents and trucker safety quite a bit. Although I’ve received some comments from truckers accusing me of being “anti-trucker,” that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’ve received far more comments from truckers asking for help or with questions on what to do when the company they work for is pressuring them to do something illegal. And I have many injured truckers as clients – after they’ve been hurt in truck accidents on the job.
A question I’m frequently asked by injured truckers is: Where will my insurance come from?
Assuming you’re a Michigan resident, commercial truck drivers are always entitled to No-Fault insurance in the event of a truck accident – even if the crash happens in another state. But whether a truck driver is employed by a trucking company or works as an independent contractor will change what kind of insurance applies.
Insurance for injured truck drivers employed by a trucking company
If you’re a trucker who is employed by a trucking company and you’re injured while on the job, the primary payer will be workers compensation insurance. The trucking company will also have No-Fault insurance coverage on the tractor, if it’s registered in Michigan.
The Michigan No-Fault insurance supplements what is not covered by workers compensation insurance. But No-Fault also covers more than the gaps in workers compensation insurance.
For example, if you are seriously injured in a truck accident by another motorist, many commercial truck policies have large uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) policies. That provides a critically important additional source of financial recovery in a lawsuit. Warning: Many employers will not freely share this information after a serious injury, so always ask your employer exactly what kind of insurance coverage they have, and ask for a copy of the policy.
If you have questions, call an experienced truck accident lawyer who is familiar with reading dec sheets and insurance policies. A good lawyer will never charge you to review a policy. And make sure you are getting all the insurance policies. I often subpoena the insurance agent to make sure the defense lawyer is turning over the umbrella and excess coverages (amazing how often they claim to be surprised) and have been able to find additional millions of dollars in coverage for catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death cases.
A truck accident attorney who understands both No-Fault and third-party (also called the tort or accident lawsuit or pain and suffering) can help you all of the insurance benefits you are afforded under work comp, No-Fault, and third-party insurance policies.
Insurance truck drivers who are independent contractors
Many truck drivers are independent contractors who own a tractor-trailer and work for several companies on an as-need basis. At times, they operate in “bobtail mode,” which means they have no trailer attached to the tractor, but may or may not be under dispatch to a trucking company.
The independent contract truck drivers often have their trucks registered in the home states where they are leased. Some bring the tractor cab to their homes or storage lots in Michigan. Whatever the scenario, there is often a significant amount of confusion with regard to who is responsible for insurance coverage if the trucker is injured or killed in a truck accident on Michigan highways.
The safest way to ensure proper coverage for the independent contract truck driver is to simultaneously register the commercial truck in Michigan, especially if the owner-operator is the title owner. That’s because Michigan residents are required to have all of their owned vehicles registered in Michigan.
If the independent contractor is not a Michigan resident, but his semi-truck is in the state for a cumulative period of 30 days or more, he is also supposed to register the truck in Michigan. If a vehicle is registered in Michigan, it also must be covered by No-Fault insurance.
With that, the independent contractor should contact the temporary trucking company’s insurer, the bob tail insurer and any other relevant insurer to make sure the required Michigan insurance coverages are added to their policies. Otherwise, the truck driver could be denied important insurance no fault benefits and the right to sue for pain and suffering in the event of a serious truck accident.
How a truck accident lawyer can help injured truckers
If you’ve been in a truck accident in Michigan, call Michigan Auto Law at (800) 777-0028. Our truck lawyers can navigate through complicated No-Fault insurance and workers compensation insurance plans. We can identify the correct insurer, help you obtain all of the No-Fault benefits and insurance that’s available, and look for additional coverage, and excess and umbrella personal injury coverage for you.
– Steven Gursten is a partner of Michigan Auto Law and one of the top truck accident lawyers in the country. He is past president of the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Litigation Group, and has received the top-reported jury verdict in Michigan for truck accidents. Steve was named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law for his work to promote national truck safety.
Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Detroit to better serve you. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our truck accident lawyers.