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How to Get What You Deserve in a Semi Truck Accident Settlement

An accident involving a semi truck is one of the most terrifying experiences a driver may experience. Trucks play an integral part in our economy by transporting vital goods across the country. But sometimes these long trips can create unsafe circumstances for truckers and vehicles that are driving around them.

If you or one of your loved ones has been in a motor vehicle accident with a semi truck and suffered an injury or wrongful death, an experienced truck accident attorney at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can help you fight for justice.

An experienced lawyer at our law firm can get you the compensation you deserve to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

What Causes Semi Truck Accidents?

The leading causes of semi truck accidents are shoddy maintenance, driver error, and improper cargo loading. It is essential to understand what caused the accident to discern who is liable in the truck accident claim.

  • Negligent maintenance. Trucking companies have fleets with hundreds of trucks, so sometimes, a truck may slip through without getting the proper maintenance. Either by accident or intentional (some trucking companies skimp on routine maintenance checks to cut costs), a non-maintained truck can be the direct cause of truck crashes that lead to truck accident injuries.
  • Driver error. Truck drivers are only human. They get tired and make mistakes. Truckers are also susceptible to all of the same errors non-professional drivers make. Distracted driving, excessive speed, and drug and alcohol use can all lead to a car accident. Unintentional errors are also caused by weather and road conditions.
  • Neglectful packing. One of the most overlooked causes – sloppy loading – can also cause accidents once the truck is out on the road. Precise guidelines govern how a semi truck should be packed. These specifications dictate how much weight can go on the truck and its distribution, but some trucking companies fail to heed these instructions, causing traffic accidents.

It’s essential to determine the cause of the accident so that claims, settlement offers, and insurance company stipulations are clear and forthright when it comes to who is the accident victim and who caused the accident.

Who is Liable?

Michigan also has a No-Fault Insurance policy, in which residents cannot obtain license plates for their vehicles if they do not have insurance. This policy pertains to trucks as well, and trucking companies are required to carry insurance policies of $75,000 in case of a mishap.

Some automatically assume that if there’s a traffic accident involving a semi truck, it is the truck driver’s fault. Law firms experienced with truck accident cases know this is not always the case.

If the truck driver engaged in irresponsible behavior involving speed, drug or alcohol use, or distracted driving, then they are liable for any sustained injuries caused by the altercations.

A trucking company employs the truck driver, and the company is responsible for that driver’s actions on company time. If a mechanical failure caused the accident and a trucking company failed to inspect and maintain the truck, then the company will be liable.

Sometimes it’s the parts of the truck that malfunction and cause a wreck. In these cases, the blame may lay on the shoulders of the truck part manufacturer that supplied the defective part.

Lastly, sometimes trucking companies hire outsiders to pack and load the trucks. If there was an oversight during the cargo loading or inspection, then the accident will be the cargo loader’s fault.

First Steps

Seek medical attention. After you’ve been involved in a traffic accident with a large truck, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible because some injuries may not manifest until days or even weeks after the accident.

If you have been in an accident involving a semi in the past six months, and you develop issues that were nonexistent beforehand, talk to your doctor and ensure you have a record of your discomfort and how it may relate to the accident.

Hire an attorney. If you’re a truck accident victim, you’re most likely disoriented, scared, and even hurt. A truck accident lawyer can guide you through the sometimes confusing process of assigning blame and filing a claim.

Victims of semi truck accidents have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim (and if the accident involved a child, they have until their 18th birthday to file a claim).

Collect evidence. It may seem like an open-and-shut case in most truck accidents. Many assume that the truck driver is automatically at fault. However, there are cases in which the truck itself has not had the proper maintenance to ensure safety or the cargo is improperly loaded. The only way to figure these aspects out is to collect evidence.

With an attorney present, you’ll have an expert to ask the right questions. Along with gathering the pertinent informational clues to your case, a personal injury attorney will know the true worth of your claim so that, when you accept a settlement, it is for a fair amount.

Understand Your Claim

You may have heard about truck accident victims whose claims came through quickly. This is an anomaly and may indicate that the settlement is not as robust as it could be. It mainly occurs when the victim doesn’t have sound legal advice and accepts the insurance company’s agreement without question.

To fully understand your settlement and the details surrounding it, like the statute of limitations, you need legal support. Insurance settlements involving semi trucks are often slow-coming due to a variety of factors.

  • Multiple policies. Trucking companies are required to carry hefty insurance policies, and some companies have more than one policy at a time. It will take some time to untangle the different insurance policies to determine which one applies to the accident.
  • Cooperation. The insurance company and your lawyer work together to determine who is liable in the accident. This process, understandably, may take some time.
  • Multiple liabilities. At times, the liability in a commercial truck accident is split between more than one party. These parties may include the driver, trucking company, or mechanic.
  • Time to heal. Semi truck accidents can be catastrophic. Ideally, the settlement does not occur until after the victim has completely healed. And as with any devastating accident, healing may take longer than usual.

A legal professional can help you understand who is liable and how long the settlement process will realistically take. Without this guidance, there is a chance you could be settling for much less than you would get if you had not engaged a personal injury lawyer.

Final Thoughts

If you or a loved one has been in an accident with a semi truck, you need medical attention first and legal advice second. Accidents are painful, confusing, and terrifying.

If you’re inexperienced with insurance companies or the types of policies and claims that are the usual fare for trucking companies, you may not get the settlement you’re due. Insurance companies want to settle quickly and, in some cases, for less than what they’d pay out if legal experts were involved.

Consult the legal team at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. for guidance and advice. We have the experience and know-how to capably assign liability, understand the insurance policy or policies, and give your pertinent advice on your insurance settlement. We work on a contingency basis so we don’t get a dime if we don’t win your case. Contact us at (866)-868-3779 for a free consultation.

Mary MacInnes grew up in the Northeast and attended school and graduate school there. Professionally, she's been a professor, novelist, and writes for law blogs. In her free time, she likes to travel and read biographies of various Justices of the Peace.

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