Michigan Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyer: The Best Law Firm For Your Case
Tractor trailer crashes are a frequent occurrence on Michigan’s roads and highways. And because of the sheer size, weight, and speed of these vehicles, these crashes more often than not have devastating consequences. But not all Michigan personal injury lawyers and law firms are equipped to handle a tractor trailer accident. These truck accidents generally involve both state and federal law and trucking safety rules and regulations that a Michigan lawyer needs to know and understand. If you have been injured in a crash involving a tractor trailer, one of the most important things you can do is hire an experienced attorney.
The experiencded Michigan tractor trailer accident lawyers at our law firm realize that these big rig crashes are not the same as other types of commercial truck crahes because of the particular risks associated with driving these types of vehicles. Tractor trailers are massive, with most weighing (legally) up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, and stretching up to 80 feet in length. In addition, because they’re made of two pieces (a tractor connected to a trailer), they’re more difficult to maneuver, making them more likely to jackknife, roll over, or separate. And because of their size and weight, they’re much more difficult to stop, especially when traveling down hills or on rain-slicked or icy roads. Tractor trailers also can have huge blind spots if they are not properly equipped with safety mirrors and often carry dangerous loads.
The Michigan tractor trailer accident lawyers at our law firm are aware that these type of truck crashes occur at a high rate througout the state, and are more likely to be fatal. In 2022, tractor trailers were involved in approximately 10% of all crashes involving a fatality in Michigan. Those fatal crashes resulted in 105 deaths.
To find out what your Michigan tractor trailer accident case may be worth call our law firm (248) 353-7575 to speak with one of our experience lawyers or check out our Settlement Calculator.
Tractor trailers can be difficult to maneuver for several reasons:
- Size – tractor trailers are much larger and longer than other vehicles, which makes it challenging to navigate tight turns and narrow streets without swinging into other lanes or obstacles.
- Blind spots – The Michigan tractor trailer accident lawyers at our law firm know that drivers of these big rig trucks have have limited visibility, especially when it comes to blind spots around the vehicle. These blind spots exist on all sides of the truck and can make it difficult for drivers to see smaller vehicles, pedestrians, or obstacles.
- Turning radius – tractor trailers have a much larger turning radius than other vehicles, which means they need more space to make turns.
- Weight – the sheer weight of a loaded tractor trailer can make it challenging to slow down or stop quickly.
- Backing up – maneuvering a tractor trailer in reverse is particularly difficult because the trailer follows a different path than the tractor. This requires skill and precision to avoid collisions with objects, pedestrians, or other vehicles.
- Traffic & road conditions – tractor trailer drivers have to navigate all types of traffic patterns, road types, and road conditions, each of which presents unique challenges for safety. Rain, snow, ice, and high winds make it especially challenging for these drivers.
- Load shift – cargo inside the trailer can shift during transit, affecting the truck’s stability and handling.
Because of these challenges, drivers of tractor trailers require specialized training and experience to safely operate these large vehicles.
Tractor trailer accidents are common, and increasing in frequency
The Michigan tractor trailer accident lawyers at our law firm understand that these truck crashes have been on the rise across the United States.
In 2019 (the most recent year with comprehensive data available), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported the following statistics related to tractor trailer accidents in the United States:
- Fatalities: There were 4,119 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks (tractor trailers) in 2019.
- Injuries: These crashes resulted in approximately 151,000 injuries in 2019.
- Crashes: There were a total of 450,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks (including tractor trailers) in 2019.
Causes of tractor trailer accidents
The Michigan lawyers from law firm understand that tractor trailer accidents have many of the same causes as any other large commercial truck, including driver error, driver fatigue, lack of training, speeding, and so forth, but there are several safety concerns that are unique to these vehicles.
Tractor trailer accidents caused by driver error/inadequate training
Our Michigan tractor trailer accident lawyers have handled more truck crash cases than any other law firm in the state, and we have found that the most common cause of these types of big rig crashes is driver error. These errors can include distracted driving, fatigue, speeding, impaired driving, aggressive driving, and so forth. In addition, the Michigan tractor trailer accident lawyers at our law firm have found that many trucking companies also hire drivers who are not adequately trained/experienced to handle a truck of this nature. Others deliberately hire unsafe drivers because they are cheaper than safe drivers with excellent driving records. Crashes resulting from driver error usually involve a larger failure in the trucking company’s safety management system.
While these types of crashes can be caused by a variety of factors, our Michigan tractor trailer accident lawyers found that there are two additional common causes for these types of vehicle crashes which include driver fatigue and lack of training/experience. Significantly, financially incentivizing drivers to make multiple runs per day (and night) and paying by the mile instead of by the hour also contributes to driver fatigue, impaired judgment, and often incentivizes drivers to speed and to drive over hours, as the more miles they drive, the more they get paid.
Even when a the tractor trailer driver is at fault, the company that owns the truck and employs the truck driver is also liable. Trucking companies have a non-delegable duty to safely train, supervise, and monitor their drivers, as do all commercial motor carriers.
Tractor trailer accidents caused by road conditions
The experienced Michigan tractor trailer accident lawyers at our law firm recognize that adverse weather conditions like rain, snow, ice, fog, and high winds can reduce visibility and road traction, making it more challenging to control a large truck. In addition, poorly maintained roads, construction zones, potholes, and uneven road surfaces can contribute to accidents involving tractor trailers.
Tractor trailer accidents caused by the danger of blind spots
Tractor trailers have large blind spots where smaller vehicles can be easily hidden. Failure to check blind spots can result in collisions.
Tractor trailer accidents caused by improperly loaded or secured cargo
Our experienced Michigan tractor trailer accident lawyers know that load shift, such as when cargo shifts during transit, can affect the truck’s stability and handling which can be factor in causing a crash.
Tractor trailer accident liability
Tractor trailer drivers are generally found to be employees of trucking companies, despite the contention by many trucking companies (after they cause a crash and are being sued) that they actually independent contractors.
In our experience, our Michigan tractor trailer accident lawyers understand that many trucking companies try to avoid or limit liability by intentionally misclassifying drivers as “independent contractors” even though they are clearly “employees.” Under the legal doctrine known as “respondeat superior,” an employer is liable for its employee’s negligence that occurs within the scope of the employee’s employment. However, the respondeat superior doctrine does not apply if the negligent actor is an “independent contractor” rather than an employee.
Several federal Courts of Appeals and several state supreme courts have ruled against trucking companies on this issue, ruling that the drivers in those cases were “employees,” not “independent contractors.”
Pain and suffering compensation
In Michigan, when you have been seriously injured in a tractor trailer accident, you can hire an expeienced truck accident lawyer to recover pain and suffering compensation for your injuries and economic loss damages, such as medical bills and wage loss from the at-fault trucking company, the at-fault truck driver and any other responsible parties.
Calculating pain and suffering compensation after this type of crash is more subjective than calculating economic damages as it often depends on the severity of the injuries, their impact on the victim’s life, and the degree of emotional distress suffered.
Wrongful death lawsuit
In Michigan, if you have lost a loved one in a tractor trailer accident, you and your family and hire an experienced truck accident lawyer to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the trucking company, the at-fault truck driver and other responsible parties.
A wrongful death lawsuit after a crash allows you and your family to recover damages for: (1) medical, hospital, funeral, and burial expenses; (2) pain and suffering compensation; and (3) loss of the deceased’s financial support, society and companionship.
Who can you sue for a tractor trailer accident in Michigan?
In Michigan, an experienced tractor trailer accident lawyer will help you determine which of the following parties you may be able to sue after a crash: (1) the trucking company; (2) the truck driver who caused the crash; (3) the maintenance company; and (4) the truck manufacturer.
Settlement and compensation
Your settlement for this type of truck crash will, as with any personal injury case, partly depend on how much liability insurance coverage the driver and the trucking company are carrying on the tractor trailer involved in your crash.
Federal law requires interstate trucks to have a minimum of $750,000 to cover bodily injury and property damage. The Michigan tractor trailer accident lawyers at our law firm have handled hundreds of cases representing people injured in these types of truck crashes, and we know that trucking companies often misrepresent the full amount of insurance they have. Often there is an insurance tower that is considerably higher than the federal minimum of insurance.
Other factors that our Michigan tractor trailer accident lawyers know that may affect the amount of your settlement include: (1) your injuries; (2) your crash-related medical needs (present and future); (3) whether and for how long your injuries will disable you from working; and (4) your attorney’s experience and track record.
In Michigan, when you have been injured in a tractor trailer accident, you can hire a lawyer to help you collect No-Fault PIP benefits which you are entitled to from the responsible auto insurance company to help pay for your medical bills, lost wages, transportation costs for medical appointments, and attendant care services.
To protect your right to recover No-Fault benefits, you must file an application for No-Fault benefits with the responsible auto insurance company within one (1) year after your crash. (MCL 500.3145(1) and (4))
Generally, a person’s own auto insurance company will be responsible for paying the person’s No-Fault benefits. However, if the person doesn’t have his or her own policy, then benefits may be paid through the policy of a spouse or relative who lives in the same home. If no coverage is available through those sources, then a person will need to apply for No-Fault benefits through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan.
If you do not file your application on time, then the auto insurance company will use this to deny your claim and refuse to pay any and all of the No-Fault benefits you would have otherwise been legally entitled to.
Injured in a tractor trailer accident in Michigan and need lawyer? Call now!
If you were injured in a tractor trailer accident in Michigan, call now (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our experienced tractor trailer accident lawyers. There is no cost or obligation. You can also visit our contact page or use the chat feature on our website. Our attorneys can help you better understand your legal rights to sue for pain and suffering compensation as well as other non economic and economic damages,.
Michigan Auto Law specializes in all truck accident cases, including tractor trailer accidents, and receives referrals from lawyers all over the state and the U.S. The Michigan attorneys at our law firm have spoken at nearly 300 seminars and legal education programs throughout the country, educating other personal injury lawyers on how to handle tractor trailer accident cases. Attorney Steven Gursten is a past-president of the American Association for Justice’s Truck Accident Litigation Group and has been voted into the Truck Accident Lawyer Hall of Fame, one of only three trucking lawyers in the entire country to have won this award. Michigan Auto Law is also the only law firm in Michigan that has national board certification in truck accident law.
Our law firm has an extensive record of success, including recovering the highest recorded truck crash jury verdicts and settlements over multiple years, according to year-end compilations of settlements and trial verdicts by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. These include:
- $34.5 Million – Our attorney and his team secured the largest-reported tractor-trailer crash settlement in the U.S. for the year of this crash. It is the largest truck settlement to date by any Michigan attorney or law firm. The defense’s “final offer” before trial was $14 million. The case settled for $34.5 million in trial.
- $14.3 Million – Our attorneys won this truck accident verdict in Clinton County in a case involving a traumatic brain injury, extensive economic damages and loss of consortium. The defense’s final pre-trial settlement offer was $25,000. This was the largest-reported motor vehicle trial verdict in the state for that year.
- $13.5 Million – Our attorneys settled a case for a victim in a car vs. tractor trailer crash who suffered major burn injuries.
- $10.5 Million Truck Accident Settlement – A Michigan Auto Law attorney obtained this recovery for a woman who was seriously injured when a truck crashed into her vehicle.
- $9 Million – Our attorneys obtained this recovery for a man who lost both of his legs in a rear-end collision. This was the largest pain and suffering trucking settlement of the preceding decade for a rear-end crash in the state. The insurance company for the trucking company attempted to settle this case for $1 million with the client’s previous attorney, who had urged the client to take this offer before a Michigan Auto Law attorney got involved in the case.
- $6.2 million – This confidential out of state trucking death case was settled by one of our attorneys who was brought in to try the case by another attorney after the insurance company made a “final” offer of $1 million dollars to the widow of the man who was killed.
For more than 50 years, the Michigan tractor trailer accident lawyers at our law firm have been helping people like you who have been injured in truck crashes and death cases. Our attorneys understand the physical, emotional and psychological hardships you are experiencing. We can help.