How Commercial Vehicles are Defined & Why It Matters in an Accident

The definition of a commercial vehicle can be quite broad. For many consumers, the most common picture that comes to mind is an 18-wheeler that weighs tens of thousands of pounds and causes catastrophic damage when it is involved in a commercial truck accident with one or more additional vehicles.

Yet a commercial vehicle can mean many things beyond the typical “big rigs.” A commercial vehicle accident can involve big or small cargo vans or buses. Even small sedans in some instances can be considered commercial vehicles.

What is a commercial vehicle?


A commercial vehicle is owned and insured by companies rather than individuals. As a result, they fall under a different set of standards while on the road. The knowledge that a recent auto or truck accident was caused by the driver of a commercial vehicle is especially useful for a consumer and their commercial vehicle accident lawyer. That’s because there are different steps an experienced auto or truck accident attorney from Kajy Law can take in the immediate aftermath of the crash to improve your chances for financial compensation.

Perhaps the most comprehensive meaning of a “commercial vehicle” comes from the Federal Motor Carrier Regulation, which defines it as vehicles that are:

  • Driven or towed (such as a trailer)

  • Transporting goods or services, and/or meets other criteria such as weighing more than 10,000 pounds

  • Carrying 15 or more people for any reason (such as church outings)

  • Transporting nine or more people for any commercial purposes (such as shuttle vans)

  • Carrying hazardous materials or commercial products of any kind (from propane tanks to canned foods)

  • Self-propelled or towed with a motor and used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property


Commercial vehicle examples

Today’s commercial vehicles can include but are not limited to:

  • Uber, Lyft, and other ride sharing vehicles

  • Taxis or limousines

  • School buses and tour buses

  • Tractor trailers hauling heavy equipment (i.e., construction cranes)

  • Delivery vans to residential homes for business purposes (i.e., online orders through companies like Amazon, florists, dog groomers, etc.)

  • Tanker trucks


Why the definition of a commercial vehicle can impact your personal injury claim


When a commercial vehicle accident in Michigan occurs, law enforcement officials will take different steps in handling the investigation. If the driver of a commercial vehicle is determined to be at fault, you as the injured party may have different rights than if the at-fault driver was operating a passenger vehicle. If there is significant property damage to your vehicle, or major healthcare bills associated with one or more injuries, Lawrence Kajy and the commercial vehicle injury lawyers at Kajy Law will be able to navigate through the facts to help you get the best claim possible.

While every case is different, if a commercial vehicle hits your car, any of the following may be possible:

  • The potential for compensation may be higher.

  • The case or a settlement may take longer to finalize.

  • The amount of evidence will be even more closely scrutinized by police officers and attorneys.


Fault can vary when a commercial vehicle is involved


If a commercial vehicle is involved in an accident, the company’s owners will likely do everything possible to avoid financial responsibility for damages. To make sure it is a fair fight, you will need a commercial vehicle attorney who can conduct due diligence on your behalf to make sure that responsibility for the crash is not yours.

When law enforcement and any truck accident attorneys get involved in the case, they will be looking to uncover the cause of the commercial vehicle accident. The most common causes of accidents involving company vehicles include:

Distracted driving


Just like passenger vehicle drivers can lose focus or have their attention diverted, commercial truck drivers may also engage in unsafe distracted driving. They become distracted by eating while driving, fiddling with their audio, or engaging in any other activity that pulls their attention away from the road. Distracted driving inhibits their ability to drive safely and defensively.

Speeding


Drivers operate company vehicles at speeds above the speed limit, or at speeds that exceed what is safe considering current weather and road conditions – just like other drivers on the road.

Driving under the influence


We might think of drivers who are legally drunk as the most common example, but drivers of company vehicles may also feel pressure to meet quotas or time demands. As a result, they may rely on substances to stay awake on the road.

Unsafe weather or road conditions


A truck accident can be just that - whether it is rain, sleet, or roadway construction, unsafe driving conditions will contribute to accidents with company vehicles.

Kajy Law’s accident lawyers can help if you have been injured in a commercial vehicle accident


Bus and large commercial truck accidents injured more than 93,000 people in 2019 alone, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Our experienced car and truck accident lawyers represent clients throughout Michigan and understand the unique elements involved in commercial vehicle accident lawsuits. Kajy Law can serve as your personal commercial vehicle accident lawyer to help ensure you get the legal representation you deserve.

Best of all, Kajy Law offers a free consultation, and you only pay a fee if our firm helps you get compensation from your commercial vehicle accident. Contact us today so we can get started on your case.
Car Accident Rollover

Ultimate Checklist – What to Do After an Auto Accident in Michigan

The period after an auto accident in Michigan can be stressful. Besides recovering from physical and mental trauma, you will be dealing with insurers, police, and healthcare providers. All this stress can affect your ability to make the right decisions. Fortunately, the auto accident checklist below will help you think clearly if you ever find yourself in a Michigan auto accident.

Contact the Police


It is a good idea to call the police, even in a minor fender bender. Under Michigan law, motorists must report auto accidents where someone is killed or injured or in cases where the vehicle damage is $1,000 or more.

The officers will document the scene and complete an accident report, which comes in handy when you file insurance claims. If the officers can’t reach the accident scene, it is best to visit the nearest station and fill out a report. Also, you shouldn't move the vehicles while waiting for responding officers unless the vehicles are blocking traffic. If the accident happens at night, leave the hazard lights on to make your car visible to other motorists. It is also important that you obtain a copy of the police report for your records and get the names and badge numbers of responding officers. The police report will also help your attorney identify the at fault driver to make a claim for pain & suffering

Seek Medical Treatment


It is typical for adrenaline to dull pain, so you should see a physician after an accident. Often, minor symptoms can become severe, and a doctor will check for internal organ damage, concussions, and other undetected injuries. It is common for auto accident injuries to present delayed symptoms like whiplash that may not manifest for several days following an accident – or longer.

At the emergency room, insist that health care providers record all of your injuries, such as loss of consciousness, blurred vision, headaches, and dizziness. These medical records will support your personal injury claim.

Photograph the Scene of the Car Accident


Many people get confused about what to do after an auto accident in Michigan since a car crash can be disorienting. Since you may not remember the exact details of the crash after some days or weeks, it is advisable to take pictures if you can.

Take photos of the involved vehicles and the area around the collision scene. Additionally, capture any nearby road signs that can support your claim. If there are any witnesses, solicit their names and contact information as they can be crucial parties to subsequent lawsuits or insurance claims.

Do Not Talk to an Insurance Adjuster


The last person you should talk to after a Michigan auto accident is an insurance adjuster. Claim adjusters are notorious for being friendly and feigning concern for accident victims. However, this is just a façade to get you to say something that will hurt your case.

An insurance adjuster may also ask you to record a statement. Then, the insurance company will point out any inconsistencies between this statement and the testimony at trial. These contradictions can make the jury doubt your credibility. In other cases, the claim adjuster can propose a settlement, which will be less than the actual damages you have suffered. 

Therefore, make sure you seek legal help instead of talking to an insurance adjuster. In fact, don't let a claim adjuster examine the damage if there is no attorney present. An attorney will assure that your rights are protected and advise you against taking actions that may jeopardize your case.  

Call Your Michigan Insurance Provider 


Report the auto accident to your insurer as soon as you can. Insurance firms set deadlines for auto accident notifications, and some are as short as 30 days. The insurer will want the accident details and your responses should match those of the police report.

The next step on an auto accident checklist is to file a No-Fault benefits application. In Michigan, an auto accident victim has a three-year window to seek damages due to the negligence of an at-fault motorist. You can get the application form from your auto insurance company. The form entitles you to five kinds of benefits, including wage loss, medical benefits, and mileage reimbursements for medical consultations.

Keep Good Records


It is essential to maintain good records after an auto accident in Michigan. Such documents include:

  • A copy of the police report. Call the police station where the collision occurred or order the report online

  • All medical records, including prescriptions, doctor’s visits, over the counter medications, laboratory services, x-rays, and physical therapy

  • Photos of physical injuries immediately after the crash

  • The date of each service and the amount you paid

  • Note down how your physical and mental trauma from the accident has affected your relationships and daily life

  • Get the name and badge number of responding officers


Check Your Insurance Policy’s Fine Print


It is advisable to check and understand your insurance coverage before contacting your insurer, especially since Michigan has recently updated laws regarding no-fault insurance. Have an attorney read your policy’s fine print for any exceptions or caveats relating to your auto accident in Michigan. Also, keep in mind that insurance firms have deadlines for reporting auto accidents.

Talk to a Michigan Auto Accident Attorney As Soon As Possible


Don’t wait to contact an attorney, especially if you’ve been injured. A car accident attorney will assure that the case is handled correctly from the start and your actions don’t jeopardize your lawyer’s ability to fight for every dollar. 

Many legal issues can result from an auto accident in Michigan. Remember, if you are the victim, you are entitled to compensation for physical and mental injuries and lost wages. The Michigan auto accident lawyers at Kajy Law will work hard to protect your legal rights after an auto accident. Contact us today to understand your options.
Kajy Law Whiplash Pain caused by a car accident

Whiplash Caused By A Car Accident

Is my neck pain actually whiplash pain caused by a car accident?


If you have been in a car accident in Michigan, chances are you may have experienced some type of whiplash, even if mild, that caused pain in the neck and shoulders area. It is a delayed symptom injury that may not manifest for several days following an accident – or longer.

Furthermore, a vehicle does not even have to be traveling at a high rate of speed for severe whiplash to occur for one or more people involved in an accident. Drivers traveling as slow as 5 mph could be prone to injuries.

Many car accident victims experience whiplash headaches but are unaware it has occurred and therefore do not seek immediate medical care. Given how common it is, drivers and passengers should be aware of the potential of whiplash, and how it can impact them.

But what is whiplash? How do I know if I have whiplash?

What is whiplash?


According to the Mayo Clinic, Whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip. It is medically known as cervical acceleration-deceleration (CAD) syndrome.

Whiplash is commonly caused by rear-end car accidents. The sudden and unexpected nature of the impact along with the way a rear-end accident forces the head and neck to move can result in whiplash headaches and other issues. There can be other causes of whiplash pain, such as sports accidents or falls, but car accidents are the most common. In many cases, whiplash may be diagnosed as a neck sprain or strain, but these terms also include other types of neck injuries.

Whiplash can be diagnosed by most medical doctors, including primary care physicians like a family practitioner or internal medicine specialist. Anyone who has recently been in an accident should see his or her doctor to make sure there are no serious injuries.

Whiplash symptoms 


What are the symptoms of mild or severe whiplash? It can be first recognized as pain that starts as neck and shoulder pain or stiffness. This is because whiplash is generally caused by muscles, ligaments, and tendons that are sprained or strained by the hyperextension of your head and neck.

The neck consists of “bony blocks” known as vertebrae, which are joined by discs to provide your body with strength, durability, and flexibility. The force from a car accident can jolt a person’s vertebrae out of alignment, potentially causing fractures. Further symptoms like dull muscular aches or an inability to turn your head normally will often follow.

Other symptoms include:

  • Whiplash Headache (the International Medical Society of Paraplegia has indicated that roughly 60 percent of people diagnosed with whiplash suffer headaches for at least a short period)

  • Arm or hand pain

  • Tingling of the arms, hands, neck, or other area

  • A general feeling of numbness

  • Jaw stiffness and soreness

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness


Any of these pain symptoms should prompt you to seek medical attention to make sure that your minor or severe whiplash injury can be properly managed. Some patients may need physical therapy or another long-term treatment program that can be very expensive, although necessary. More serious whiplash symptoms can include blurry vision or a ringing in the ears.

Not all patients have the same symptoms. A whiplash headache is a common symptom, but the symptoms mentioned above could point to a different medical issue altogether. Therefore, getting medical attention in the immediate aftermath following an auto accident is recommended.

Whiplash treatment and length of recovery


The seriousness of a whiplash case will vary from one patient to another. Many will recover within a few weeks by following a treatment plan that can include pain medication, exercise and stretches. Heat or cold applied to the neck for 15 minutes every few hours can help manage the pain in mild whiplash cases.

Most people recover fully within three months, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. However, chronic neck pain and other long-lasting complications can result from whiplash, which over time can become debilitating to the patient.

Proving whiplash following a Michigan auto accident


Since the severity of whiplash can vary significantly from one person to another, it can be hard to prove legally. However, there are several steps you can take to help increase your chances that a diagnosis of whiplash will help support your case following an auto accident:

  • The interval at which you seek and receive medical care is an important factor in the legal aspects of your case, and potentially the amount of compensation you will receive.

  • The amount of damage to a vehicle matters as well. If there is a significant amount of damage, insurance company adjusters may offer higher settlements giving the obvious serious nature of the auto accident.

  • The amount of money spent on past medical bills, the expected cost of continued care, and whether any injuries resulting from the auto accident are permanent or temporary can help to identify a compensation value that may be placed on your case. Permanent injuries that are proven in court are more likely to result in a large settlement to help cover the cost of medical bills.

  • The documentation of the injury may be even more important, so making your current and past medical records available for your case will be very helpful. Whiplash must be proven and treatment by medical professionals should be documented. It is more likely that an insurance company will offer an amount of money that reflects the medical expenses associated with treating the whiplash injury.


If you have been in a car accident in Michigan and suffer from whiplash pain, Lawrence Kajy and his team of auto accident attorneys can help you get the money you deserve. Whiplash is a common injury following an auto accident and it can result in extensive healthcare needs and medical expenses. Make sure you have a team dedicated to fighting for every penny you deserve.
Friend wrecks car lawsuit kajy law

What happens if a friend wrecks my car?

You always want to be there for a friend or family member when he or she needs your help. That may even include letting a friend borrow your vehicle for an important interview or errand. However, you must be aware of the potential consequences which is why it is important to understand what happens if someone other than you crashes your car.

The first thing that comes to mind for Michigan drivers is the question of insurance coverage. For example, are you liable for the damages if your friend or family member was driving? Who pays for the damages and what will insurance cover? Will your auto policy be impacted or will the driver’s?

There is a wide range of scenarios for what can happen in this type of situation.

Insurance coverage

If someone borrows your car and wrecks it, they may be unwilling or unable to pay for the damages out of their pocket. You may still be covered by your own insurance policy in Michigan. Most insurance policies will cover for damages under two common insurance plans:

Liability insurance

This is mandatory in Michigan with recent changes being made to the coverage options based on the state’s new No-Fault law. Liability insurance covers any damages you (or in this case, the person driving your vehicle) caused to the other driver in the accident. Those damages can include medical costs related to injuries suffered by either party as a result. Liability coverage is unlikely to pay for damages beyond the limit for which you are insured.

Collision coverage

Collision coverage is optional and covers the costs to fix your damaged vehicles. Most policies require a deductible payment for any individual incident.

It is typical that your insurance company will cover a friend or family member who was driving your vehicle assuming they were given approval by you to use their vehicle. This is often referred to as a “permissive driver.” But there are exceptions that an experienced auto accident attorney can help you address.

If your insurance company has agreed to cover costs associated with your friend’s accident, it is important to remember that you will only be covered up to whatever limit your policy specifies, which is also true if you were the driver that caused an accident. For example, if there was $60,000 in medical and collision costs, but the insurance limit on your policy is just $50,000, then the remaining balance of $10,000 will ideally come from your friend’s insurance policy. If not, it will have to come out of someone’s pocket.

Here’s when your insurance policy will not cover costs if someone else driving your car gets into an accident

Non-valid driver’s license

Your insurance policy will not cover the cost and your friend could be held liable for the accident.

Driving under the influence

This is a potentially worst-case scenario. Most insurance policies provided to Michigan drivers will have an exclusion clause. Under Michigan’s Impaired Driving Law, drivers can be arrested at any blood alcohol level if they exhibit signs of impairment while operating a motor vehicle. If someone else crashes your car and was under the influence, you will likely have no coverage for any damages.

Permission was not given

Essentially if your friend or family member took your vehicle without your knowledge, you will not need to access your insurance. All the liability goes to him or her and their insurance policy will be impacted first. Of course, you will need to prove that permission was not granted which can be difficult.

Excluded driver

Insurance policies often provide Michigan drivers the option to explicitly exclude certain people from your plan. Those individuals can be specifically noted in your policy.

To summarize, if you are going to allow someone close to you to drive your vehicle, take the following steps:

  • Confirm he or she has their own auto insurance, and whether they have collision coverage.

  • Make sure you do not let them use your vehicle if they have a suspended license or are driving under the influence.

  • Confirm with them that if an accident occurs to contact you immediately following any necessary connection with local law enforcement.

  • Familiarize them with where any important items are in your car, such as an emergency car kit, spare tire, etc.


If you are informed that your friend or family member has been involved in an accident while driving your vehicle:

  • Insist that they contact law enforcement and get a police report.

  • Make sure you get the contact name and information of any other drivers impacted.

  • Connect with your insurance company and be transparent about what occurred.


Can you be sued if a friend wrecks your car when driving it?

It is possible that you could be sued for financial restitution. This is most likely to happen if the accident is significant enough to cause a level of damage where the auto policies of both you and your friend have been exhausted.

For example, if you have $100,000 coverage on your policy and your friend has $50,000, the maximum amount that could be received from your combined insurance companies is $150,000. Many accidents, especially if severe injuries occur, may ultimately require damage costs that exceed this threshold. In that case, your personal assets may be pursued including your property, other working vehicles, even direct cash from your bank accounts.

There is also the potential that you could be sued if it were determined that you made negligent decisions in lending your vehicle out to that friend or family member. If he or she has vision issues, or a poor driving record that may include DUIs, or in any other way is determined to be unfit for driving at that time the accident occurred, you could be held liable for all damages.

The importance of getting scheduled maintenance done on your vehicle

Additionally, you could be liable for the costs associated with a car accident in Michigan if your vehicle is deemed unfit for the road at the time your friend or family member was driving it. It is important that your vehicle be maintained so that safety standards are not compromised. Any safety equipment failure on your vehicle could be an issue. If there were visible issues with the vehicle before the accident that could have impacted the performance and safety of the car, you may be in danger of getting sued.

The best way to prevent this is to have your vehicle go through an annual maintenance check-up.

Lawrence Kajy and the team at Kajy Law are experts in helping you or someone close to you that has been involved in an auto accident. We also can help you determine your strategy if you lent your vehicle to a friend or family member who ended up getting into an accident. Call Kajy Law today to set up your non-obligation appointment to better understand your options.
Distracted Driving

A Closer Look at Distracted Driving in Michigan

Distracted driving occurs when an activity or situation takes the attention away from a person driving a car, truck or motorcycle, putting them at risk for an auto auto accident. It does not have to refer to a self-inflicted mistake or error in judgment, but that is most often how people think of it.

Common activities that may cause distracted driving include: using a cell phone for any reason, eating, drinking, applying makeup, using a navigational system, and adjusting the radio.

Here are some facts about distracted driving reported by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Association (NHTSA) and other organizations:

  • 10% of fatal crashes and 15% of injury crashes in 2015 were distraction-affected.

  • Cell phone use accounted for an estimated 27% of all 2015 car crashes (National Safety Council)

  • In 2015, there were 3,477 people killed and an estimated additional 391,000 injured in crashes involving distracted drivers.

  • The fatal crash rate for teens is 3 times greater than for drivers age 20 and over (The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

  • Driver distraction is responsible for more than 58% of teen crashes. (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety)


Other situations may cause a distracted driving scenario that aren’t necessarily the fault of the driver. For example, a driver suddenly needing to avoid an accident, an animal running onto the road, or inclement weather may cause distracted driving in those moments as even an alert driver is caught off-guard.

Distracted driving may also cause a driver to travel at speeds that are faster or slower than is recommended. For more than two decades, speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities. In 2017, speeding was a contributing factor in 26 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To put distracted driving into further context, it can further be defined in four ways:


First, distracted driving can involve visual mistakes, where the driver takes his or her eyes off the road.

Second, it may involve a manual mistake when the driver removes their hands from the wheel to handle something else.

Third, a driver may make a cognitive mistake by taking his or her mind off driving.

Finally, an auditory issue involves noise that distracts a driver from driving safely.

Regardless of how a distracted incident arises, all can be extremely dangerous for the driver, passengers, and nearby motorists or pedestrians. It should be noted that any accidents involving visual, manual, cognitive, or auditory mistakes may make it more obvious which driver was at fault. In other words, it may make it easier for investigators to determine when a distracted driving incident was the cause of an accident.

Lawrence Kajy and the experienced personal injury attorneys at Kajy Law are experts in Michigan law as it pertains to car, truck and motorcycle accidents. They regularly represent clients injured in auto accidents due to negligence including distracted driving and are committed to getting you the money you deserve if you’ve suffered a serious injury.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident that may have been caused by distracted driving, call the auto accident team at Kajy Law.