One of the most important things you can do after a Michigan trucking crash is to stop further damages from developing. This process, but your protection, is going to involve lawyers and insurance companies.
Inevitably, these types of crashes may involve multiple vehicles, may involve multiple insurance companies (from the tractor to the trailer to insurance for other vehicles to your own insurance company). An experienced Michigan attorney with the skills and knowledge to navigate you through the various issues will protect your rights before you are damaged further. Accident reconstruction experts are typically necessary, as are interviews with the police and key witnesses. Trucking litigation will also typically involve helping you obtain valuable first-party benefits and pursuing other available legal rights to obtain compensation and reimbursement for:
– medical expenses
– lost earnings
– pain and suffering
– emotional suffering
– other damages
– preserving evidence
Truck crashes are different than other vehicle crashes because of the federal laws that govern the trucking industry. Federal regulations require that certain evidence must be maintained, but only for a limited amount of time. For example, the semi truck driver’s log may be destroyed after six months if a lawyer does not obtain a court order or take other immediate action. In addition, state laws are also involved in trucking crash litigation. There are so-called “black boxes” and crash data that can be retrieved, extracted, and analyzed to help prove what happened and why. The insurance companies and adjusters retained to defend the trucking company or companies never wait nor should you.
Semi-trucks and trailers must also carry various levels of insurance coverage, depending on the nature of the materials in the truck. This can create a situation where a hauling and leasing company may argue for years about which insurance company is responsible for compensating the victim in a truck liability case.
RingsmuthWuori has handled many types of vehicular crashes over the years including semi-trucks, unhitched trailers, buses, farm equipment, and crashes on highways, rural roads and city streets. Sometimes the vehicles involved are government vehicles, which involve special rules applicable to governmental entities that are also critical to follow to preserve and pursue a legal claim.
A long-haul driver swerved to avoid a hit-and-run driver, and despite heroically avoiding killing the hit-and-run driver, suffered a severe wrist injury when his rig jackknifed. Perseverance was required to obtain a verdict because the employer and insurance company fought the claim. The case was submitted to binding arbitration, which resulted in a $750,000 award. Then a lawsuit was filed to collect the award, which was successful. Then the employer’s insurance company (Zurich) filed an appeal to overturn the verdict. We won the appeal, and finally the client received his rights under his employer’s uninsured motorist coverage. (Note: If you are injured in an automobile crash, check your insurance policy and the policy of your car and your driver for underinsured coverage and uninsured coverage, which may be critical to your recovery.)
Head-on crash with a heavy-duty pickup truck on icy roadway. After another law firm waited 2 1/2 years trying to decide whether the client’s injuries were serious, we took over the case and proved that his broken wrists disabled the client from his job. The key to this case was presenting clear, graphic medical evidence.
An experienced road cyclist was struck from behind by a commercial vehicle. He suffered significant brain and back injuries. The cyclist was obeying all rules. The truck driver was not initially ticketed. After we became involved, a ticket was eventually issued for careless driving. We worked closely with the treating doctors to understand and explain the significance of the brain and back injuries. Our insurance expertise was critical to success in this case. We managed to obtain insurance settlements from the truck insurer, and the errors and omissions policy of the insurance agency that had allowed the company’s liability policy to lapse. In addition to the settlement, all wage loss and medical benefits have been paid. After several days of trial, a settlement was reached with all of the insurance carriers.
* These trucking crash cases are chosen from many more, to illustrate some of the variety of the issues we have dealt with.
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102 West Front Street, Suite 401
Traverse City, MI 49684
Ringsmuth Wuori PLLC is a member of the National law firm Advocates United and handles Michigan-based AU cases