What To Do After A Truck Accident
9 time-sensitive steps to take after a truck accident in Michigan that deal with insurance, medical issues and claims
Immediately after a truck accident, our commercial truck lawyers recommend taking several important steps to protect yourself. We’ve summarized the most time-sensitive information for you below.
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- Contact police and seek medical attention.
- Document the truck accident.
- Retain an experienced Michigan truck lawyer quickly after a truck accident – as truck companies can legally destroy critical evidence.
- Notify your auto insurance company immediately.
- File an application for No-Fault benefits.
- Check your auto insurance policy for very specific notification requirements.
- Check your auto insurance policy for uncoordinated benefits.
- Never sign a release or give a statement to an insurance claims adjuster.
- Remember that Michigan has unique auto and truck accident liability.
Contact police and seek medical attention
After a truck accident in Michigan, the victim should contact the nearest police department and immediately seek medical attention for all injuries. Be sure to report and document any minor pain that may seem less important at the time compared to more serious injuries. Significant injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, are often masked early on, making it difficult to link them to the truck accident if they’re not properly documented. Here is more information on what to do at the truck accident scene.
Document the truck accident
After a truck accident, it’s crucial to obtain contact information for any passengers and witnesses involved in the accident. If your injuries make it difficult to identify circumstances that may have contributed to the truck accident, friends or family should aid the injured victim at the scene. This information will be extremely important if it becomes necessary to hire a truck accident lawyer, because all too often, the truck driver who caused the accident will change his story along the way. Furthermore, if witness information is not preserved at the scene, or if it’s missing from the police investigation, it becomes much more difficult for an attorney to prove negligence.
Retain an experienced Michigan truck lawyer quickly after a truck accident – as truck companies can legally destroy critical evidence
Trucking companies have records of safety inspections and their truck drivers’ hours. Because bad equipment and truck driver fatigue cause many crashes, these records are critical in proving the trucking company’s liability. But after a certain period of time, trucking companies can legally dispose of their pre-trip inspection documents, hours of service (driving time) records, and other records that can prove fault. After a truck accident, it’s important that you speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible — before important records are intentionally (and legally) destroyed. Here is more information on why it’s important for your truck lawyer to start the investigation fast in order to protect your legal rights.
Notify your auto insurance company immediately
Your auto insurance company must be notified after a truck accident. In Michigan, there’s a strict one-year time limit to notify your own (first-party) auto insurance company of a truck accident, in order to receive your No-Fault insurance benefits. There is a three-year time limit to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver’s (third-party) insurance company for a pain and suffering lawsuit.
File an application for No-Fault benefits
Filing an application for benefits form with your insurance company after a truck accident is essential for protecting your No-Fault rights in Michigan, even if your injuries from a truck accident do not seem severe. The form is required to receive five important benefits: medical expenses, wage loss, replacement services (help around the house), mileage to medical appointments and attendant care (nursing services). Use the form available through your auto insurance company. Please be as accurate and complete as possible, and include all of your injuries and impairments.
Check your auto insurance policy for very specific notification requirements
In addition to the above legislative deadlines, many Michigan auto insurance policies pose even more strict notification requirements, such as 30 days notice for hit-and-run accidents. Unlike statutes, Michigan insurance carriers can change their policy filing requirements at any time. Many contracts have separate provisions for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage requiring very prompt notice of an accident. So if truck accident victims fail to adhere on time, they can lose this important coverage. For this reason, it’s critical to carefully review your entire auto insurance policy after a truck accident with an experienced truck accident lawyer who is very familiar with Michigan’s No-Fault insurance law.
Check your auto insurance policy for uncoordinated benefits
It’s important to review your Michigan auto No-Fault insurance policy and any additional contractual coverage you might have. There can be some common pitfalls and loopholes posed by some typical auto insurance policies. For example, some people have lost tens of lost thousands of dollars because they did not understand the interplay between health insurance plans, managed care plans and ERISA plans, as well as coordinated (excess) and uncoordinated (primary) policies. Most policies are coordinated, meaning that if you have existing health insurance in the event of a truck accident, your health insurance pays first and your auto insurance pays the remaining balance. With uncoordinated coverage, truck accident victims may be entitled to receive a “double dip recovery” under the policy. This may seem confusing, but a truck accident lawyer can take a quick look at your policies and tell you how to protect yourself and who will pay for your No-Fault benefits after a truck accident.
Never sign a release or give a statement to an insurance claims adjuster
After a truck accident never give statements to a Michigan auto insurance claims adjuster and never sign a release or allow the adjuster to look at your vehicle damage. Too many people rush into signing adjusters’ documents without having the language reviewed by a Michigan truck accident lawyer. Therefore, they may lose their right to sue the negligent truck driver and the trucking company for accident-related injuries. Keep in mind, claims adjusters often try to get recorded statements early, aiming to minimize the accident victim’s pain and injuries for later use in court. Even limited property damage releases can contain unrelated language releasing all personal injuries suffered from a car accident. Always speak with your truck accident lawyer first.
Remember that Michigan has unique auto and truck accident liability.
Michigan auto and truck accident liability laws are different from all other states. Damages recoverable from an injury after a truck accident in Michigan will include first-party claims (victim’s insurance), such as medical bills, wage loss, replacement services, attendant care and medical mileage. Third-party auto negligence tort claims (negligent driver’s insurance) involve personal injury and excess economic loss. All auto insurance policies sold in Michigan include some limited coverage for vehicle damage, property damage and pain and suffering compensation for physical and emotional injuries.
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