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Do I have a truck accident case?

February 12, 2016 by Steven M. Gursten

9 reasons you may need an attorney – now – to represent you

truck accident lawsuit, image

My general rule is to tell people they often may not need an injury attorney right away if they’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident. For example, in Michigan, people can turn to the mini tort law to collect for vehicle damage and turn to their own No Fault auto insurance company for PIP benefits.  We have an injury threshold law for pain and suffering, so often it is going to be “durational factors” – things such as time off work, how long you are treating with doctors for your injuries as well as the injuries themselves – that depend on whether you’ll have a successful injury case. In short, it’s often okay to wait. You don’t need to rush to hire an attorney.

But not so with trucks. With trucks, I often tell people to err on the side of contacting an experienced truck accident attorney right away. And believe it or not, this isn’t self-serving advice. There are many critical parts of proving liability and negligence in a trucking case where those “durational factors” I refer to above can work against you.

For example, trucking companies can quite legally destroy critical documents in just months after a crash. A black box that showed speeding or failure to brake does not need to be preserved without immediate notice. Critical maintenance records and driver logs can be destroyed, and, if they show negligent maintenance in a tire-off case or a tire blowout case, the defense attorneys will be standing by the shredder waiting for the retention period to lapse.

Here are some other reasons you may want to hire an experienced trucking accident lawyer to represent you now:

  1. Anytime there’s a wrongful death or serious injury from a truck wreck.
  2. When personal injuries from the crash impair your ability to perform or enjoy previous activities, such as work, chores, hobbies, sports and even relationships. This gets into Michigan’s third-party injury threshold law that I referenced above.
  3. Any disagreement or even a belief that the trucker will not admit liability, so that black boxes can be investigated and critical documents can be retained before the retention periods expire.
  4. When you are uncertain how to interpret your auto, health, and disability insurance policies, and particularly in relation to notification requirements and/or coordinated No Fault auto insurance benefits.
  5. If you’re confused about which benefits you’re eligible for and time limits for filing appropriate forms. Remember, even though it may be a truck or bus or other commercial motor vehicle, that doesn’t mean the statute has not been shortened or notice must be provided within a very specific period of time. Trucks and buses operated by governmental agencies, for example, require very strict notice requirements to be complied with, and complied with exactly, or the underlying claim can be dismissed.
  6. When you experience delays from your insurance claims adjusters, such as phone calls not being returned, getting passed from one adjuster to the next, multiple requests for the same records, delays in payment, requests for examinations under oath, and simply not being heard or believed by your claims adjuster.
  7. Note, when this happens, you have a 1-year time limit: If any reimbursable No Fault bill or any expenses are not paid by the auto insurance carrier of appropriate priority (such as your emergency room medical bills or EMS or ambulance), a No Fault lawsuit must be filed within 12 months from the date the expense was incurred, or you will lose your right to reimbursement for that expense, and it will be time-barred under Michigan’s auto laws.
  8. Any time you’re asked to sign a release by a third-party responsible for the crash.
  9. When the truck company’s insurance company contacts you and wants to settle immediately. Here’s why you should never fall for this settlement tactic – which is great for the insurance company but not for you.

There are many other reasons to consult with and involve an experienced accident attorney to help protect your legal rights after a devastating injury or loss. If you have any questions, you’re welcome to call our attorneys at (248) 353-7575 for free legal advice about your circumstances.

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