Highway traffic complications may have led to the death of a man who crashed his SUV into a commercial box truck on Westbound I-96.  Michigan State Police say that the victim of the crash was a 33-year-old man, whose Lincoln SUV failed to stop for slowing freeway traffic due to a semi-truck rollover clean up.  The driver of the box truck, a 34-year-old Fenton man, was not injured.

Size discrepancy increases damages.

A typical tractor-trailer or other large truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds by law. Most passenger vehicles are about 3,000 – 4,000 pounds, and are significantly outsized by a semi-trailer. This size discrepancy leads to catastrophic injury and higher damages, along with the increased chance of wrongful death.   Accident and wrongful death claims are expensive and take a toll on insurance and courtrooms in Michigan.  The State of Michigan’s data shows a slight reduction in motor vehicle crashes from 2017 to 2018, with associated costs that exceeded $44,515,956,700, including costs for death.

Insurance.

The State of Michigan and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have specific insurance requirements for semis. Michigan is a comparative fault state and “Damages shall be assessed on the basis of comparative fault, except that damages shall not be assessed in favor of a party who is more than 50% at fault.”  Comparative fault damages will cover vehicle property damages and pain and suffering.  The “comparative fault” law does not apply to claims for Michigan No-Fault benefits because, “fault” is not a pre-condition to collecting benefits that are reasonably necessary to a victim’s care, recovery, or rehabilitation.

Dependents of a Michigan accident victim may be entitled to benefits under the Michigan No-Fault Law (MCL 500.3108) when that loved one dies due to injuries sustained in an automobile accident. A no-fault policy maintained by one person includes all family members living in the same residence. Experienced attorneys can guide victims through insurance and legal processes.

Wrongful death.

When an accident involving a truck results in death to any person(s) involved in the accident, a wrongful death claim can be pursued.  Under Michigan Wrongful Death Act, only the deceased person’s spouse, children, step-children, descendants, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, or the person inheriting the decedent’s estate, can receive compensation for this type of legal claim.

There is a 3-year statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim, and surviving family members may be barred from seeking civil damages if they do not act within the set timeframe. An experienced Michigan wrongful death attorney can assist.

Seek legal counsel.

Negligence will need to be proven for a successful wrongful death claim. Seeking effective legal counsel who have experience in truck accident cases is a prudent decision as fault is determined by formal reviews of police reports, witness reports, car damages, roadway marks and other accident-related factors.

Sources:

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(o4kpydz02jffs2p5ueh5m1vu))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-500-3135

https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/large-trucks

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(0xoqlfhybakch1wxb41tlmts))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-500-3108

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