How Do I Choose the Right Semi-Truck Accident Attorney & Other FAQs
Choosing the Right Semi-Truck Accident Attorney
There’s a big difference between car accident attorneys and trucking accident attorneys. Unless you’ve gone through an accident with a semi-truck before, you may not know what those differences are, or how to find the attorney that best fits the needs of your case. So here are some of the most frequently asked questions our trucking accident team receives about how to recognize the right person for the job and how to go about choosing the right semi-truck accident attorney.
Q: How are semi-truck accident lawyers different from car accident lawyers?
A: Semi-truck accidents themselves can be vastly different from other car accidents, which means you need a lawyer who knows how to handle those differences.
When a semi-truck, tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler, or other large commercial vehicle goes head-to-head with a sedan or even an SUV, the smaller car almost always comes out worse for wear by way of damages and injuries suffered by passengers. And when damages and injuries are more extensive, that means the possibility for a higher settlement value, which inevitably leads to a tougher battle to obtain it.
But an even bigger difference between truck accident cases and car accident cases is that when a semi-truck is involved in a crash, it often involves more than just the two drivers and their insurance companies, as it would in a regular car accident. Finding fault in a semi-truck accident case can involve the truck driver, the trucking company, maintenance companies, manufacturing companies, cargo companies, and all the legal and insurance teams that come with them.
Your lawyer needs to understand not only the nuances of vehicle accidents, but they need to understand all the moving parts behind how trucking companies operate, where to pour efforts into investigating these companies and their various elements, and they must have an intricate knowledge of the particular laws and regulations trucks should be following on the road. While a trucking accident lawyer may also be a great car accident lawyer, not every great car accident lawyer can automatically be a trucking accident lawyer too. Choosing the right semi-truck accident attorney is important to your case.
Q: What kind of experience should I look for in a semi-truck accident lawyer?
A: The answer is in the question: Experience! First and foremost, you want to be sure you’re choosing the right semi-truck accident attorney who has extensive experience not only taking on trucking accident cases, but fighting them in court and winning them. Achieving reasonable settlement offers for clients who have been involved in trucking accidents is desirable experience as well.
Though no two accident cases are ever the same, a lawyer who has experience with successful cases similar to yours is important too. For example, if your trucking accident specifically involved spilled cargo from the truck that caused damages, you want a lawyer who has taken on other spilled cargo accident cases before.
You also want to hire a lawyer who has experience working directly with large and complex companies, especially insurance providers. There are certain tactics insurance companies and their legal teams attempt to utilize in their quest to hand out as little compensation as possible, so you need a lawyer who is familiar with these tactics and knows how to appropriately counteract them.
Q: What other qualities should I look for in a good trucking accident lawyer?
A: Reputation is a big one, especially when it comes to the way they work with opposing counsel or the other entities in question. If your lawyer has been successful with their past cases, they will likely have a reputation in their community of being someone who’s good at what they do. When this is the case, opposing counsel may respect their position and requests more, making the prospect of reaching a fair settlement more likely.
Though reputation is helpful, you still want a lawyer who doesn’t solely rely on their name to get the job done. You want someone on your side who has a game plan and knows how to achieve it. They should be an expert negotiator, as well as have a thorough list of connections and resources that are useful for investigating your accident and the people involved. They should also have trusted experts to turn to that can help build your case’s credibility.
You also want a lawyer who is dedicated, and you should be able to determine their level of dedication from your first interaction with them or their team. Pay attention to how responsive their office is when you first contact them, and who in particular contacts you after you let them know about your situation. If you decide to move forward, note how quickly you were able to secure an appointment with the lawyer specifically. And when you’re in their office, do they and their staff give you their undivided attention, or are they distracted?
Finally, your comfort level with the attorney you choose is of paramount importance. Trucking accidents involve serious injuries that can put you and your family in a delicate state. You want a lawyer who is sensitive to your situation and makes you feel comfortable with sharing extensive and intricate details about your injuries and how they’ve affected your life. If your prospective lawyer doesn’t exude a personality or work ethic you feel good about, they may not be the best fit for you.
Q: Why does the way my trucking accident lawyer asks to be paid matter?
A: You want to select a lawyer who operates on a contingency basis. What this means is that they require no upfront fees or retainers to take on your case, and are only paid after they’ve helped you reach a reasonable settlement or verdict. In other words, if you don’t win, you don’t owe them anything.
But it’s also important to pick a lawyer who doesn’t just advise you to settle for a lesser amount so that they can make sure they get paid. You want a lawyer who isn’t afraid to take your case to court, even if that means the possibility of losing and receiving no compensation for their time and effort. And keep in mind, if a lawyer is comfortable with taking your case to court, there’s a good chance it’s because they believe they can help you win.
Learn more about contingency fees by reading this FAQ page all about them.
Q: What are some red flags to be wary of when picking a lawyer?
A: A lack of experience is the first red flag to be wary of. If an attorney has no experience with your specific type of claim or case, it’s better to seek out someone who does. If they also have a history of losing more cases than they’ve won, or settling for amounts that don’t seem proportional to the damages suffered, that could be a red flag. And if they have almost no history that displays a willingness to take cases to court, then it could be because they’re not confident in their abilities to do so.
There are also specific behavioral red flags to be aware of. For example, if you’re not meeting with an actual lawyer during your first meeting, the likelihood of you working directly with a lawyer throughout your case is diminished. If you are working directly with a lawyer, but they only make themselves available by phone or email rather than in-person, that’s something to be wary of too. It could point to them lacking credentials they don’t want you to know about, or could be because they don’t actually have the ample time needed to dedicate to you and your case.
And if there is an overall lack of communication at any point in the process, whether it’s during the initial stages when you’re getting to know the lawyer and they’re getting to know your case, or their communication about how they’re handling your case lessens as time goes on, you may want to start looking for different counsel. A successful trucking accident lawsuit comes from thorough communication between client and counsel—without it, details and tactics can get lost, which can weaken your case.
Q: What kinds of questions should I ask my potential semi-truck accident lawyer?
A: Here is a list of great questions to ask either when you first contact your lawyer or when you have your first official meeting or phone call with them:
- How strong do you think my particular case is?
- What do you believe will be some of the challenges I’ll likely face during my case?
- Can you tell me about your experience with cases like this, as well as their outcomes?
- Have you ever worked on a case involving my particular defendants?
- What specific knowledge do you have about trucking accidents that will be useful to my case?
- What would be your overall plan or tactic for representing me and my unique scenario?
- Do you have reputable resources for helping to build my case?
- What are your fees and costs?
Click here for additional information about when to hire a lawyer after your accident as well.