When a tractor-trailer crashes into your vehicle, you recognize immediately that it is different from an ordinary accident. You might escape injury, but the typical reality is usually far more challenging. Even at low speeds, a large truck's weight, mass, and power can cause extreme damage to a smaller vehicle. A large truck crash sometimes causes fatal injuries upon impact. Crash survivors often sustain serious or catastrophic and permanent disabilities. Sadly, at a time when you should focus on your recovery, you will likely encounter insurance adjusters, vehicle appraisers, health insurers, and other people seeking answers. Despite your physical condition, they sometimes prioritize their need for information over your need to recover in peace. These strangers sometimes visit your hospital room, or they come knocking on your door when you are recuperating at home.
Attorneys Are Everywhere
As you struggle to recover, you will also notice a lot of attorneys. Lawyers in TV commercials seem as though they are speaking directly to you. Attorneys on billboards smile down at you. Your mailman will eventually fill up your mailbox with attorney letters, brochures, and promotional materials. These attorneys look and sound tough, aggressive, sincere, and helpful, but you need more than that. You need a truck accident attorney. Before you choose an attorney to handle your claim, you need to consider a few questions of your own.
Why Work With a Truck Accident Attorney?
Your future can depend on choosing the right legal professional to handle your case. You must take control of your attorney selection process; you must act quickly and you must choose wisely. If a large truck caused your accident, taking control means finding the right truck accident attorney. You will need an aggressive, sincere, and helpful professional. Your attorney should also demonstrate a history of successfully representing truck accident injury victims. At some point, the attorneys on TV commercials, billboards, and promotional mailings will seem to be your best option. They are usually personal injury professionals. They commit to handling your legal interests, and they work hard on our behalf. Those are points in their favor. But if a law firm has never handled a truck accident case, your serious truck accident injury claim will become their on-the-job training.
What Makes a Truck Accident Attorney Different from a Personal Injury Attorney?
Accidents involving large trucks are more complicated than typical auto accident cases. Your attorney must recognize and understand these differences.
Trucks Weigh More
As the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration explains, tractor-trailer rigs have a minimum 10,000-pounds gross vehicle weight rating. The trucks involved in fatal crashes usually have a 26,000 lb. GVWR or greater. As the average private passenger vehicle weighs 4,000 or fewer pounds, weight is a key factor in a large truck's ability to cause extensive damage and devastating injuries.
Liability Issues Are Often More Complicated
Large trucks are commercial vehicles. To determine legal responsibility for an accident, truck accident attorneys must often work through a complex web of business relationships and contractual issues. Attorneys must build a decisive case against the negligent driver. They must also identify the owner of the truck, the transport company, repair contractors, shippers, loaders, and other entities who potentially share liability for an accident.
Truck Accident Attorneys Spend Years Learning What They Need to Know
Like all other lawyers, truck accident attorneys must go to law school and pass a bar exam to qualify for a license. Along the way, they select their practice areas. Some choose real estate, business, or other focus areas. Truck accident attorneys learn by working with seasoned personal injury lawyers. By the time an attorney establishes a truck accident practice area, they have had long-term training and extensive first-hand truck accident case experience.
How Do You Find the Right Truck Accident Lawyer?
If you are seriously injured, you should speak with a legal representative as soon as possible. You should approach your search as though you were hiring a professional to do an important job. That is exactly what you will be doing. The attorney you choose will not only represent you, he or she will be involved in your life for months and possibly years. If you need help in conducting your attorney search, ask a spouse, friend, or relative to assist you. Consider these important search ideas.
Treat Your Attorney Search Like a Hiring Process
You do not have to hire the first attorney who shows interest in your case. In fact, you probably should not. You should talk to several attorneys until you find one with the truck accident experience you require. If you feel drawn to a particular attorney, schedule a consultation. Some attorneys will visit you in the hospital or come to your home for an in-person consultation. You can also consult with attorneys by phone, or connect via Skype, Zoom, or another online service.
Make a List of Possible Attorneys
Create a list of attorney possibilities. Evaluate each one before making a choice.
It Is Okay to Contact the Attorneys You See in Ads and Promotional Materials
If you feel comfortable talking to an attorney you found on a TV ad, billboard, or promotional mailer, add them to your list and give them a call. As you begin interviewing potential attorneys, your conversations will help you decide who is and is not the right attorney for you.
Get Attorney Referrals from Friends and Family
There is a good chance that some of your friends and family members have dealt with personal injury attorneys. Find out more about their experiences, especially if their accident involved a large truck. Ask if they were pleased with the process. Find out if they were satisfied with their settlement, and whether they would work with the attorney again. Keep in mind that every injury claim is unique, so your friend or family members' experiences will be different from yours.
Search Online for Truck Accident Attorneys
If you do an online search, expand your inquiry to include attorneys in areas beyond your hometown. You will have a larger pool of qualified attorneys to choose from.
Ask the Right Questions
Many attorneys offer their services as truck accident lawyers, even when they have little or no truck accident experience. It is up to you to determine if an attorney has the qualifications to handle your claim. You can do that by asking direct questions and listening carefully to the answers. Once you make a choice, you will sign an agreement that documents your attorney-client relationship. Before you make that commitment, be sure you have enough information to make the right judgment call. Here are several questions to include on your list.
How Long Have You Handled Personal Injury Claims?
Attorneys will generally not talk about their years of experience unless you ask the right question. Whether you talk to a novice or a seasoned litigator, their answer will usually reveal what you need to know. No matter what an attorney says, you will get a sense of their experience based on how they answer this question. Skilled personal injury attorneys usually answer confidently and with no hesitation. Those with limited personal injury experience might hesitate or not answer directly. Either way, an attorney's response to this question could help you make a judgment on whether they are the right fit.
How Long Have You Handled Truck Accident Injury Claims?
An attorney with a decades-long personal injury career will not always have experience handling truck accident claims. Truck accident experience can be essential as the issues are different from other personal injury claims. The vehicle damage is generally heavier. Injured drivers and passengers often sustain serious and catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. To properly evaluate and settle these types of cases, attorneys must understand the lifelong consequences. Experienced truck accident attorneys usually have no problem sharing their professional histories. They can tell you about real experiences with truck accident cases and discuss past settlements and liability complications.
Have You Ever Negotiated a Truck Accident Injury Settlement?
Truck accidents are time-consuming, so attorneys in the same law firm often work together to handle the workload. Attorneys in single-person firms sometimes collaborate with other attorneys. If they lack the resources or the experience to investigate and present a case, some attorneys hand-off their complex cases to a more experienced law firm. This is not a problem as long as you understand and accept that other attorneys will be working on your case Negotiation experience is important. It is not a one-shot process. Attorneys begin negotiating cases at various stages during the handling process. They present demands to insurance companies or self-insured corporations. They exchange key pieces of information with adverse parties. Attorneys negotiate independently, in mediations, at arbitrations, during pre-trial hearings, and at other times throughout the life of an active case. Before you agree to let an attorney handle your claim, you should understand as much as possible about this important aspect of your case.
How Many Injury Cases Has Your Law Firm Tried?
Some attorneys have never tried a case. That is another fact you will not learn unless you ask the right question. Trial experience is not an issue in most personal injury cases. Injury claims often settle before they get that far. You still need to know how your attorney handles cases when he or she cannot resolve the issues, and must go to trial. You do not want an inexperienced attorney representing you in court. You want someone who has tried enough cases to feel comfortable in that environment.
May I See Your Case Results?
Attorneys should be proud to share their past results with future clients. If they have results but will not share them, you may draw one of three conclusions.
An attorney's case results share performance reviews from the attorney's perspective. Client reviews tell you how the injured client feels about the service they received. When you are developing a list of potential attorneys, you should search for client reviews on the attorney's website. If an attorney does not post client reviews, it does not mean that the law firm does not have them. If clients have reviewed a law firm, you can usually find them by searching online. The attorney's website review page may come up in your search results. You may also find reviews posted on Google, Yelp, Facebook, the Better Business Bureau, and other review sites. Professional sites like AVVO, Super Lawyers, and others also post attorney reviews.
Has Your Law Firm Received Any Local or National Recognition?
Attorney peer organizations present awards to acknowledge a law firm's professionalism and commitment. Law firms chosen for national or local honors usually post the organization's logos at the bottom of their websites. Lawyers also receive awards or recognition when they are active in their communities. Community awards do not always have a digital logo, but attorneys sometimes mention the recognition in their blog. These types of awards provide an alternative view of a lawyer's character and professional standing.
Is it Easy to Reach You When I Need You?
You may lose confidence in your attorney if you cannot talk to them when you have an important question. As you work through your recovery, you will have a lot of issues to discuss. You need to know when and how your attorney will respond to you when you call.
Contact methods: Of course you can call an attorney or schedule an office appointment. Some attorneys also connect with you via Email, Live Chat, Scheduled Call Backs, and Law Firm Apps.
Timing: Ask about response time. When you leave a message, how long will it take before the attorney reaches out to you?
Availability: Does the attorney have an alternative person for you to talk to when you need to speak with someone immediately?
How Much Will You Charge to Handle My Case?
Truck accident attorneys handle injury cases on a contingency basis. This means that an attorney does not charge you a legal fee until he or she resolves your case. This percentage varies if your attorney must file a lawsuit or try your case. Your attorney will explain how their firm handles costs for investigation, discovery, medical reports, and other expenses. The American Bar Association sets basic standards for reasonable attorney fees. Each state's bar association also provides Rules of Professional Conduct that guide billing and other attorney/client interactions.
Trust Is Essential
In the end, it all comes down to trust. You must trust the attorney you hire and the attorney must trust you. Your attorney will eventually learn personal details. He or she will have access to your private medical information and details about your closest family relationships. Ultimately your mutual trust will help your attorney investigate, evaluate, present, and settle your case. Trust will help you maintain confidence as your attorney works to resolve your truck accident claim.
Why Do You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Truck accident injury cases are far too complicated to handle without legal assistance. They often include multifaceted legal and liability issues. The injuries are usually serious or catastrophic with long-term consequences. Truck accident attorneys work on your behalf to protect your legal interest and recover the damages to which you are entitled. When you schedule a legal consultation, you do not have to commit to hiring that lawyer. You may talk to an attorney and weigh your legal options. You decide which attorney you want to handle your case and when to file a claim or lawsuit. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900 https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/truck-accident-attorneys/
Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney
This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.