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Rear-End Accidents with Commercial Vehicles: Special Considerations in Michigan

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Challenges and Concerns When You Were Rear-Ended by a Commercial Vehicle

A truck accident can result in serious injuries. The larger the vehicles involved in the collision, the more serious the injuries might be.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration keeps data regarding reported crashes in each state. According to its data, in 2023, 6,182 large trucks and buses were involved in accidents in Michigan. More than 1,400 of those vehicles were involved in accidents that led to non-fatal injuries.

If you ever find yourself amid the thousands of people in Michigan each year involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, understanding your options for a personal injury case is important.

The Potential Severity of an Accident Involving Commercial Vehicles

One of the first challenges related to a rear-end collision involving a commercial vehicle is the potential for very severe injury. Commercial vehicles like large trucks and buses are big and heavy, and when they collide with other vehicles on the road, they can do serious damage.

A lot of force can be applied in a rear-end collision involving these types of vehicles. Many rear-end collisions occur when one vehicle is stopped or slowed and another vehicle hits it from behind. That results in a lot of force being transferred to the vehicle in front. With large commercial vehicles, this can cause a serious impact that throws the victims of the accident back and forth in their cars, leading to injuries that can range from simple muscle sprains to fractures or even traumatic brain injury.

In worst-case scenarios involving non-fatal rear-end collisions with commercial vehicles, individuals can be left with devastating and debilitating injuries. They may deal with these injuries and the resulting disabilities for the rest of their lives.

How Michigan’s No-Fault Law Impacts Rear-End Accident Cases Involving Commercial Vehicles

Michigan is a no-fault accident state that requires drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection, or PIP, insurance unless they meet specific requirements. This is to help ensure that people can access immediate and fairly quick coverage for medical expenses if they are injured in a car accident.

Individuals who are covered by Medicaid might have PIP plans that only allow up to $50,000 in coverage for medical expenses. Other individuals can choose plans that offer an unlimited amount, $250,000, or $500,000 in coverage.

While this coverage may seem like a lot, someone dealing with catastrophic injuries after a rear-end collision involving a large commercial vehicle may need more coverage. Once PIP insurance runs out, you might need to seek compensation for medical expenses from the at-fault driver in an incident.

The Impact of Comparative Negligence on Potential Claims

Michigan tort law operates based on comparative negligence. That means that the amount of compensation paid out to you in a settlement or award can depend on whether or not you were at fault in the accident in any way.

While in practice this can be complex—and it’s a good idea to consult a personal injury attorney about the impact of your potential fault in an incident on your case—the basic idea is simple to understand. Your compensation can be reduced by the percentage for which you’re deemed liable. Say you’re found to be 20 percent liable in an accident and you’re awarded $100,000 in compensation. That award would be reduced by 20 percent, which means the actual amount paid out would be $80,000.

Potential Challenges for Lawsuits Involving Commercial Drivers and Vehicles

If you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit in a case involving commercial vehicles and drivers, you might face some specific challenges.

Listing All Relevant Parties in the Suit

One challenge in filing a lawsuit in a case involving commercial vehicles is ensuring you name the relevant parties. This can take some investigative work, because commercial transportation situations can be complex.

For example, a driver could be an owner/operator. Or, they might work for the company that owns the fleet vehicle they are driving. In other cases, drivers could operate a vehicle leased by their employers. All of these cases involve different sets of potentially at-fault parties that should be named in a lawsuit.

Dealing With Teams of Lawyers

Commercial drivers may be represented in lawsuit cases by attorneys hired or paid for by their companies. Since these types of lawsuits often include multiple defendants, your case might involve more than one defense lawyer or legal team. That can make it harder to schedule depositions and mean more work overall for your own legal team.

Proving Negligence

As with any other personal injury case, the person filing the lawsuit carries the burden of proof. You will need to demonstrate that someone else is at fault in the accident that caused your injuries.

Work With an Experienced Personal Injury Team

Anytime you are injured in a car accident and believe you may need to file a lawsuit to seek compensation, working with an experienced personal injury team is important. Lawyers who understand Michigan tort laws and have experience negotiating with insurance companies can increase your chances of a positive outcome with your case.

To find out more about how a personal injury team can help with your case, call the Sigal Law Firm at 248-671-6794.

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