How Do I Find the Best Truck Accident Lawyer?
Start your search off right
on December 15, 2016
Updated on May 11, 2022
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, you should get the proper medical attention immediately. Accidents with large commercial vehicles can cause serious injury. These injuries are not always immediately evident, so prompt medical treatment is essential. Once you have received medical care, you may consider filing a personal injury claim. Through a lawsuit, you may be able to get financial recovery for medical bills, lost earnings, and property damage.
Before pursuing legal action, you should know that trucking accidents are intricate matters. You may be able to sue multiple parties, including the trucking company, the driver, the cargo owner, and more. Further, the trucking industry is subject to various state and federal regulations that may impact your case. If you plan to sue a trucking company, you will have to go against their insurance company’s legal team. An experienced truck accident lawyer will help you navigate these complexities.
Truck Accidents Versus Car Accidents
Truck accidents are generally much more complicated than passenger car accidents. Before you contact an attorney, it may be helpful to understand some of the differences between the two.
First of all, truck accidents are usually caused by more complex circumstances than car accidents. A passenger vehicle accident is typically the result of a driver’s error. However, common causes for commercial truck accidents include:
- Size and weight of the truck
- Poor training
- Equipment failures such as tire or brake problems
- A truck company’s improper hiring procedures
The truck company is often a co-defendant in a truck accident lawsuit because they may have contributed to the accident. If the trucking company scheduled the driver for too many hours, failed to maintain the truck properly or committed other negligent acts, they may be liable. They may also be responsible for any negligence the truck driver committed in the course of performing work-related tasks.
Further, determining the damages is typically more difficult in a truck accident than in a car accident. Damages refer to the monetary award a truck accident victim can receive. In a truck accident lawsuit, you might be able to recover to a few different types of damages:
- Economic damages like reimbursement for medical expenses, lost earnings, and property damage
- Noneconomic damages such as compensation for pain and suffering
- Punitive damages, although these are less common
Note that punitive damages are reserved for truck accident cases where the trucker or the trucking company acted in a reckless or grossly negligent way. Some examples of recklessness or gross negligence might be if the trucker operated the vehicle while texting or intoxicated. A trucking company might be liable for punitive damages if it employed a trucker they knew was breaking their policies or regulations.
Finally, accidents with large tractor-trailers are usually more severe than auto accidents because of a truck’s size and weight. A semi-truck and its cargo can weigh tens of thousands of pounds. Unfortunately, truck accidents often result in serious injuries or even fatalities. When fatalities result, it may give rise to wrongful death claims.
Finding the Best Truck Accident Lawyer for You
If you are considering filing a lawsuit after a truck wreck, you will need to find a personal injury lawyer with experience in this specialty. There are many resources online to help you find an attorney, but it may be best to start by talking to your friends and family.
Ask Friends and Family
If you happen to know anyone who has gone through a trucking accident lawsuit, you should ask them about the lawyer they used. If they liked their lawyer, it might be a good idea to arrange a consultation with this person. Even if you don’t know anyone who has gone through a trucking accident lawsuit, you might know people who have pursued other personal injury claims. Experienced personal injury attorneys may have connections to lawyers specializing in truck accidents.
Search for Trucking Accident Attorneys Online
Next, it’s a good idea to check your state bar association for attorney referrals. Each state has a state bar association which is the entity that licenses attorneys. Many state bar associations maintain a website where you can search for attorneys by specialty, location, or name. This website can be a useful resource if you consider hiring an attorney you found through a friend’s referral or advertisements. Before you hire them, it’s wise to look them up on your state bar’s website to verify that their law license is in good standing.
You may also find it helpful to use a third-party lawyer referral service such as Super Lawyers. The Super Lawyers directory provides lists of top-rated attorneys by practice area and location.
Meet With Truck Accident Lawyers
After talking to your friends and family and searching online, you probably have a list of a few attorneys you are considering. The next step in choosing one is to set up the first meetings. Personal injury attorneys such as truck accident attorneys usually offer a free consultation to help you determine whether they will be the right fit for your case. As with any service, you should feel free to shop around for the right attorney for you. You may need to set up several initial consultations. Then you can decide which attorney fits your needs best. Below are a few issues you should consider when hiring a semi-truck accident attorney.
When looking for legal representation, one of the first criteria you should look at is how much experience an attorney has. Although they might be a seasoned personal injury attorney, they might not have experience with truck accident law. Truck wrecks present a specialized set of facts and legal issues. So, it’s wise to choose an attorney who has experience with them.
During your first consultation, you should ask an attorney about their experience with truck wreck lawsuits. If they have a good track record representing truck accident victims, it’s a good indication they can represent you skillfully.
Further, you should ask if the attorney has experience taking their truck accident cases to trial. If they are known for accepting settlement offers too quickly, this may put you in a poor bargaining position. You should have an attorney who is willing and able to take your case to trial if necessary. An experienced trial attorney should be able to give you an assessment of what they think your case might be worth. Although they won’t give you any guarantees, they may be able to provide you with examples of cases similar to your own.
As discussed above, personal injury attorneys usually offer a free case evaluation. When you first talk with an attorney, you should ask what the fee schedule will be if you hire them. Most truck accident attorneys get paid on a contingency fee basis. This means that they will take a portion of your award if any. This percentage varies depending on the attorney, but it is often around 30% to 40% of your settlement or verdict.
If an attorney works on a contingency basis, they will not charge an hourly rate. However, they might expect you to pay for ongoing legal expenses. These additional expenses could include:
- Fees for obtaining police reports and other records
- Expert witness fees
- Filing fees
These costs can add up, so you should ask whether your attorney will expect you to cover them. In many cases, a law firm will pay these expenses and deduct them from any payout you receive at the conclusion of your truck accident claim.
Another crucial consideration in your search for a truck accident attorney is whether you have a good rapport with them. Your attorney will represent you in your lawsuit, so you should choose someone you like and trust. You may also need to consider logistical issues. For instance, think about whether their office location and working hours are convenient for you. If you have any special requests, it’s a good idea to ask if the attorney can accommodate them. For instance, you may need a translator or after-hours services.
Before committing to an attorney, it’s wise to check that they hold an active license in your state of residence. You can usually verify this information on your state bar association’s website, covered in more detail above.
In most states, there is a time limit on your ability to file a personal injury claim, such as a truck accident lawsuit. These time limits are called statutes of limitation. So, you should contact an experienced truck accident attorney promptly after receiving the medical treatment you need.
Why Hire an Attorney?
All personal injury cases require the expertise of a skilled attorney. Truck accident lawsuits are no exception. Your truck accident attorney will help you gather evidence, request medical records, and track important deadlines. Most importantly, they will negotiate with the defendant and their insurance company to secure a settlement. If no settlement is possible, they will represent you in a trial, present evidence, and argue your case. The help of an experienced truck accident attorney can be essential in the outcome of your case.
For more information on this area of law, see our overview on trucking accidents.