Here are the potential lawsuits for injured truck drivers in Michigan
People hear the word “truck accident,” and most will first think that it is the truck that causes the wreck, not the person driving in a passenger car around the truck and passing a truck, or cutting out in front of a truck.
But real life is often different from what most people think. As a truck accident lawyer in Michigan, I’ve represented a great number of truck drivers who are seriously injured because of the negligence of the passenger car driver. Truck drivers often get a bad rap, but we tend to forget that many drivers will do some very foolish things to avoid driving behind or beside a truck – and sometimes these drivers cause crashes that injure the truck driver. The truck drivers I help were injured while trying to play it safe behind the wheel.
Truck drivers also get a bad rap because of a few bad apples. Our attorneys know the majority of truck drivers care about safety and follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMSCRs) (even when sometimes their employing truck companies and “safety” directors often pressure them to violate hours of service regulations or skip pre-trip inspections.
I recently wrote a blog post about the potential legal remedies after a truck accident. This last post focused more toward drivers of cars involved in wrecks with large commercial motor vehicles. Today, I’d like to speak directly to a truck driver’s legal rights when he or she is seriously injured in a truck accident because of another driver’s negligence.
First things first: No Fault insurance benefits and Workers Compensation for an injured truck driver
To start, if a truck driver is injured in a truck crash in Michigan, he or she may be entitled to workers compensation benefits and , including medical expenses, wage loss, replacement services (help around the house) and attendant care (in-home nursing services).
In addition, an injured truck driver may also have a tort lawsuit for pain and suffering due to injuries. Michigan has a unique injury threshold law that applies to all motor vehicle accidents, including truck accidents, and requires that a person injured in any wreck be able to show that he or she has suffered a “serious impairment of body function.”
What if an injured truck driver is an ‘independent contractor’?
A new and somewhat disturbing trend that I see as an attorney is more and more trucking companies trying to reclassify truck drivers from employees to independent contractors, in order to avoid paying these truck drivers workers compensation benefits.
Whether a truck driver is employed by a trucking company or works as an independent contractor can make a difference as to what kind of insurance applies in the event of a crash.
There are many independent contractor truck drivers who are not properly insured, and unsure of what kind of insurance they have in the first place. And as I’ve said above, I’ve written about the injustice that occurs when truck companies knowingly misclassify their trucker-employees as independent contractors.
It’s not just to avoid paying workers compensation to an injured truck driver. These companies are also doing this because they are being advised (usually incorrectly) by their attorneys that this can help to cut-off liability in certain negligence and tort injury claims that can arise in a lawsuit if one of their drivers causes a serious truck wreck that injures or kills someone. This, also, has serious consequences if one of their drivers is in a truck accident and hurts himself or herself and, then, needs insurance coverage. Important insurance coverage like Uninsured Motorist coverage and Underinsured Motorist coverage that applies to the truck may not apply to cover and protect the driver in some circumstances. This will be factually dependent and is best reviewed with an experienced attorney who understands trucking litigation and the interplay with No Fault, Workers Compensation, and tort (injury) liability claims. At the very least, it is always worth a phone call because many meritorious claims are never made because the truck driver is falsely told he or she is NOT protected under an insurance policy when another motor vehicle causes the crash.
Talk to an experienced, qualified truck accident attorney
It’s important to speak with an experienced truck accident attorney who understands complex insurance issues involved in commercial motor vehicle accident lawsuits, like , and the complicated interplay between workers’ compensation insurance and Michigan No Fault insurance coverage.
Feel free to call Michigan Auto Law at 800-777-0028 for a free review of your insurance coverage and your circumstances. We’re here to answer all of your questions, and there’s no charge.
Remember, if an attorney doesn’t thoroughly understand all areas of the law, you might not get all of the legal benefits and compensation you’re entitled.