Preparing for a Truck Accident Attorney Consultation
If you were in a truck accident, you’re not alone. In one recent year, nearly 1,000 injury-causing truck accidents took place in our state, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and 46 fatalities caused by truck accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that Florida is one of the top 10 U.S. states for truck accident-related fatalities in the United States.
Are you considering consulting with an attorney about a truck accident? You might be unaccustomed to consulting with attorneys and unsure of what transpires in such a meeting. You may be thinking about bringing a lawsuit to obtain justice for the harm done to you or a loved one in an accident, but be unsure if you have grounds. What do you need? What should you bring, if anything?
In what follows, the truck accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group review what an initial consultation is and what happens during them, as well as what to bring.
Initial Consultations Are the Way Attorneys Do Business
Initial consultations provide an opportunity for you to discuss your accident with an attorney that can shed light on whether the circumstances give rise to a lawsuit, how to navigate the process, and potential outcomes.
Initial consultations are free. There is no charge to you. There is also no obligation to retain the attorney that conducts your initial consultation and no obligation to pursue a lawsuit.
Bring Your Personal Preferences and Comfort Level
It’s advisable, in fact, to have an initial consultation with several attorneys. Part of choosing an attorney and feeling comfortable with one is feeling like you can trust them and ask questions.
How do you find an attorney to initially consult? You can ask friends and family for recommendations. You can also consult Avvo.com, SuperLawyers.com, the Florida State Bar Association, or Google Reviews.
Bring Any Evidence You Have About the Truck Accident
Initial consultations about a truck accident will focus on what happened and the harm the accident did you. The lawyer will need to know, at a minimum, what happened and the extent of your injuries. Bring evidence that will provide the circumstances of the accident, who was hurt or harmed, how they were hurt or harmed, and who was at fault. If the truck accident has had a lasting impact on your life, such as rendered you unable to work or fatally injured a loved one, bring evidence of that.
The attorney will want to listen to you talk about the accident, of course. But in the legal world, evidence is also imperative. It’s very likely that, just by being in a truck accident and being injured (or a loved one fatally injured), you have documents that are evidence.
Police are required by law to report an accident with a commercial truck in Florida, for example. Police reports are also mandated if someone is injured or killed or if a wrecker is required to remove a vehicle, or if damages are over $500.
If you were transported in an ambulance or went to a doctor for your injuries, there will be medical evidence of your injuries. The type and extent of your injuries are extremely important to your case, so evidence of them should be brought to your initial consultation.
In addition, anyone involved in a truck accident should exchange information with the other drivers if they were able, such as contact and vehicle insurance information. These, too, are part of the material you should bring to your initial consultation.
Finally, any information that shows information about the circumstances of the accident or your injuries should be brought, such as pictures or eyewitness comments.
To sum up, you should bring the following documents if you have them:
- Accident or police reports
- Police investigation notes
- Citations or tickets issued at the scene or later
- Photographs of the accident, whether taken by yourself, an insurance adjuster, or other party
- Photographs of any injuries sustained
- Eyewitness statements or notes
- Eyewitness contact information
- Notes you’ve taken about your injury
- Doctor’s or surgeon’s notes
- Emergency room notes
- X-ray and MRI results
- Automobile and health insurance cards/information
- Automobile insurance and contact information of other driver(s)
- Information about the property where your accident occurred
The more you can obtain this information and bring it to the initial consultation, the more accurate and complete the lawyer’s consultation can be. After all, if the lawyer doesn’t know what the police report says about the possible causes of the accidents, the responses can only be very general, which may not help you to make a decision. The more the lawyer knows, the better.
A Word About the Statute of Limitations
Most people in a truck accident think about pursuing a legal case right away, because the results can be so devastating. But for various reasons, sometimes legal cases are brought later, sometimes much later.
All legal cases have time limits during which plaintiffs need to bring them. The legal term is “statute of limitations.” After that time limit, a court will very likely refuse to hear a case.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case like a truck accident is four years from the date of the accident. If someone has died, the type of case is a wrongful death, for which the statute of limitations is two years.
For either type of case, if the defendant is a government agency (such as the county for lack of road maintenance), the statute of limitations if three years.
Bring Notes About Your Injuries and Potential Claims
Truck accidents are a subcategory of personal injury law. In personal injury law, two central concerns animate all issues:
- What happened and who was responsible?
- What are your injuries, both physical and emotional?
So, first, it is very important to reconstruct what happened during the incident. You will be bringing the evidence itemized above, if you have it. But it’s also important to bring your recollections, thoughts, and feelings, even if they are partial or fragmented (as they often are in the case of an accident).
Why? In truck accidents, circumstances can be very complicated. Many factors can cause a truck accident: driver error, driver fatigue, improper maintenance and repair of a truck, inadequate training of drivers, poor roadway design, inadequate maintenance, improper loading of a truck, flying or dropping cargo, defective components or products used in the truck, and even truck manufacture.
Ordinary citizens, of course, can’t always know what is behind an accident. The truck could have appeared from nowhere, as far as you were concerned. But every observation on the part of yourself, law enforcement, and eyewitnesses can lead to a true picture of what happened.
Whatever caused the accident, the parties responsible, if you choose to bring a suit, will ultimately be the defendants. They can be truck owners, drivers, owners of maintenance, inspection, and repair facilities, owners of loading companies, or car manufacturing companies.
It is vital to write down what you recall about the accident immediately following the accident. If you allow too much time to elapse, your ability The sooner you take notes, the better.
Bring your notes on:
- What happened before, during, and after the truck accident, as you recall it
- What you experienced and felt
- Anything said by other drivers
- The time and place
- Weather conditions
Be Aware of Your Truck Accident Damages
Second, the attorney will need to know what damage has been done to you. Damages from truck accidents can be multiple. They can include physical and mental treatment for injuries, time missed from work, the effect on your ability to work, and effect on your personal life, such as marriage, friendships, or social life. Lawsuits can compensate people monetarily for each of these categories, both of harm done to date and harm the injuries might be expected to do in the future.
As a result, bring a list of the following:
- Type and extent of your injuries (both physical and mental)
- Type of medical treatment you have received (doctor’s visits, surgeries, prescription medication, rehabilitative therapy, retrofitting your home for consequences of the injuries, and more)
- Type of medical treatment you have been told to expect in the future
- Time missed from work
- Time missed from any events you had to cancel
- Any effects of your injuries on your work life (such as more difficulty in doing work or inability of doing work
- Any effects on your social life
- Any effects on your personal life
- Any effects that your injuries have had on family relationships
If you cannot collect some of this immediate information because of the seriousness of your injury, be sure to have a trusted friend or family member do so.
Come Prepared to Talk About the Accident
The attorney you consult will want to listen to your recount what happened in the accident. It’s not just a set of evidence and lists! The attorney will listen to you talk about your injuries and the effect on you. You may be asked questions or for more detail.
Part of the process of an initial consultation is, frankly, the attorney assessing the client and their case. Attorneys need to do this because the court and the opposing attorney will do it if a case is pursued! Part of winning a case is the ability of an injured party to give a deposition and be believable, in all cases. The attorney must have a view of this.
Bring Your Questions
Part of an initial consultation is asking questions. The more questions you ask, the more you will understand whether you have a case, and if so, what you can expect. In addition, it is normal to want to know how attorneys are paid! (Most work on a contingency basis, meaning that are paid from the settlement you receive, but it’s a good idea to ask the question.)
Don’t rely on spontaneous questions. Jot down questions you have as they occur to you beforehand, so you have a complete list on the date of the first visit.
Here is a list of potential questions, but you are free to ask others.
- How is my medical treatment paid for?
- How long does payment take to reach me?
- How long does the whole process take?
- What if I don’t have certain types of evidence?
- Can the attorney’s office help me compile evidence?
- How does my car insurance PIP work with a legal case?
- Should I hire a lawyer? Is it necessary?
- How are lawyers paid on a case like this?
- Is there anything I should avoid?
- What can I expect to happen after my free legal consultation?
- What can I expect if I choose to hire Dolman Law Group?
- Does the lawyer have an idea of how much my case would be worth?
More examples can be found on our truck accident FAQ section.
Come Prepared to Hear From the Lawyer
After you have presented all your evidence, recollections, and questions, the lawyer should be in a position to advise you about your case. First, they will discuss relevant and applicable laws. Then, they will discuss their estimate of the viability of your case. Just because you or a loved one has been injured does not mean you necessarily have a legal case or an ability to receive money from one or from an insurance carrier. Finding out whether you have a case is one of the primary reasons for an initial consultation. You are always free to seek a second opinion.
If you have any other questions about what occurs at an initial consultation or what to bring, contact a truck accident lawyer.