After getting into an accident with a commercial truck, you are probably scared, hurt, and wondering what to do next. A truck accident attorney is your best advocate after getting into a crash with a big truck. Truck accident lawyers can help you find every responsible party, get the story from witnesses at the scene, collect and present relevant evidence, negotiate with the insurance company, and represent you in court.
If you or a loved one were in an accident with a commercial truck, you need an experienced attorney. Having a truck accident attorney working on your behalf will allow you to focus on physical, mental, and emotional recovery while your attorney handles the legal side of recovery.
Find All Responsible Parties
Truck accidents get complicated quickly. Determining liability in a truck accident is the first step to getting the compensation you need. There can be multiple responsible parties in a truck accident claim. You need a truck accident lawyer who can identify and name each responsible party in the lawsuit. You are more likely to be fully compensated for your injuries if you add every potentially responsible person or entity to the case.
Potential defendants in a truck accident lawsuit include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company/employer
- The trucking company’s employees are responsible for loading the cargo
- Manufacturers and mechanics
- Insurance companies
- Government entities
Sometimes finding the responsible parties to a truck accident investigation can be challenging. A truck accident attorney can use their resources to thoroughly investigate the accident and contact insurance companies that cover the truck driver and the trucking company.
Collect and Present Evidence
A truck accident attorney will help you by investigating the accident and collecting evidence to present to the insurance company or at trial. Through its independent investigation, your attorney will help you build a case to recover compensation for your losses.
Your attorney will want to review evidence and witness statements. The attorney and their team will likely review traffic camera videos, your medical records, and speak to eyewitnesses as the first step in their investigation.
As the case continues, your attorney may discuss with you hiring expert witnesses. Expert witnesses lend a lot of validity to your injury claims and determinations of how the accident happened. Truck accident attorneys and other civil litigation lawyers can help you get connected to the right professionals to serve as your expert witnesses.
Medical experts can testify to latent evidence. After reviewing your medical records, the expert witness may compile a report that helps explain to a jury how severe your injuries are and how they are likely to impact your life. This testimony can help prove permanent disability and the likelihood of emotional trauma.
An accident reconstructionist, for example, is a type of expert witness that can serve as a third party who can explain how an accident happened. Of course, each side of the case will have its own perspective about how the accident occurred, but an accident reconstructionist can help to bolster your version of events and strengthen your case.
Negotiate With the Insurance Companies
There will likely be multiple insurance companies that will contribute to paying out a settlement after a truck accident. Attorneys typically have an easier time contacting and negotiating with insurance companies.
Truck accident attorneys have experience negotiating with large insurance companies. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and insurance adjusters focus on increasing the company’s profit margin.
What Usually Happens During a Negotiation With an Insurance Company?
Soon after the accident, the insurance company will likely contact you. Insurance companies want to keep costs low, so they will quickly offer you a settlement amount that is unlikely to cover your injuries and other losses. The first offer is typically not the best offer available.
The Initial Offer
Accident victims often make the mistake of accepting a settlement offer without anticipating the cost of future medical care or lost wages. You should contact an attorney before speaking to the insurance company or accepting a settlement offer.
The insurance company will investigate the accident. Their investigation will focus on finding the cause of the accident and calculating the financial value of the alleged losses. During its investigation, the insurance company may ask you to sign a medical release so it can receive and review your medical records. You should never sign anything, including a medical release, for an insurance company without speaking to a lawyer.
Locking You Into Your Story
The insurance company will work hard to avoid paying out your claim. Insurance adjusters will try to downplay your injuries and lock you into your story. Adjusters might ask you to give a written or recorded statement during the settlement negotiation process. Insurance companies may use your words against you. Many accident victims naturally tend to downplay their injuries, but that is a mistake.
Unrepresented accident plaintiffs usually have difficulty getting the money they need to pay for their losses. Despite federal insurance requirements set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, if the trucking company or driver does not carry enough insurance to cover injuries, you need an attorney.
Represent You in Court
If negotiations with the insurance companies are not fruitful, your attorney will represent your interests in court. Trial advocacy requires a skilled attorney. People with legal representation regularly find their outcomes are better. There are several ways in which your attorney can assist you.
Trial preparation starts at the beginning of the attorney-client relationship. There are many steps between the accident and a verdict at trial. An experienced accident attorney can help you take each step.
One of the first steps in any accident case is discovery. The discovery phase of litigation is the fact-finding stage of the case.
During discovery, you will receive and send out interrogatories. Interrogatories are questions that each side of the case can ask to elicit the facts according to the other side’s perspective.
Depositions might also happen during the discovery phase. A deposition is an informal interview of witnesses given while under oath.
An unrepresented client may not understand how to navigate the discovery process. An experienced truck accident attorney will help an accident victim ask the right questions and depose the best witnesses to help build their case.
Follow All Procedural Rules
You may be vaguely aware of the procedural rules that affect civil lawsuits. Breaking a procedural rule can increase the chances of a case dismissal on a technicality. Hiring an experienced attorney can help protect your claim against a trucking company.
The statute of limitations is an example of an important procedural rule. The statute of limitations is a deadline created by state law that sets a specific period for an accident victim to sue a defendant for damages. The victim cannot bring a lawsuit against the defendant if they miss the statute of limitations, even by one day.
Your case will go to trial if you cannot reach a satisfactory settlement. If you have the right attorney working on your side, you do not need to feel intimidated by a courtroom or the defense team.
Your truck accident lawyer will present your evidence and argument to the jury. Never try to represent yourself at trial. You can lose a strong case because you did not present the evidence well, with cohesive arguments.
How Do I Choose the Best Truck Accident Attorney?
Choosing an attorney is an important decision. The attorney you pick to represent your interests at trial can be the difference between recovering your losses after an accident and losing your claim. When hiring a truck accident attorney, you should look for certain qualities that all good civil litigators share.
It is important to look for an attorney with experience handling truck accident cases when interviewing them. You may want to ask them what percentage of their practice they dedicate to representing clients injured in truck accidents during your consultation. Experience is the best teacher. Attorneys need not dedicate their entire practice to truck accident cases, but they should regularly work in that area.
Successful Track Record
Experience is important, but successful experience is vital. The attorney you choose should have a successful track record of winning truck accident cases. In civil litigation, winning can mean different things. The attorney is successful if they get their client the best possible outcome for their case. You can ask the attorney about their track record and look online for reviews from past clients.
Truck accident attorneys are only human and can only take on so many cases and represent them well. You should feel comfortable that the attorney you hire will have the capacity to dedicate enough time to your case that will get you the outcome you desire or close to it. You can read online reviews to learn more about past clients’ satisfaction with the attention their cases received.
Your attorney should be an effective communicator. Attorneys have a duty to provide clear and regular communication with each of their clients. Before you hire an attorney, inquire about how they typically communicate with their clients and how often you can expect to hear from them. Some attorneys will delegate communication with clients to other members of their team, like legal assistants or paralegals.
Civil litigation involves a significant time commitment, so you should hire an attorney you are comfortable working with, and you should share the same goals. You do not want to be in a situation where you are bumping heads with your attorney and their team. Keep the time restraints set by law in mind, but do not rush into an attorney-client relationship that is ultimately not beneficial to you.
Chances are that your attorney will not handle every aspect of your case themselves, especially if you hire an attorney who works for a large law firm. In addition to having several attorneys work together on your case, you may speak with the firm’s staff, including paralegals, legal assistants, and other staff members. Before picking an attorney, you should get a feel for how well the team works together. A good team can mean a good outcome.
What Damages are Available in a Truck Accident Case?
There are generally three categories of damages available in truck accident cases. The categories of damages include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages are also known as special damages. Economic damages compensate for tangible injuries and losses. Examples of these kinds of damages can include medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and the cost of hiring help for domestic tasks like cooking, cleaning, and bathing.
Non-economic damages are less obvious. Also known as general damages, these losses can include mental trauma, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, disability, loss of consortium, and loss of companionship.
Non-economic damages are sometimes hard to prove. Sometimes an expert witness’s testimony is necessary to prove that the victim is suffering from non-economic damages. An experienced truck accident attorney can assist you in proving these kinds of damages and recovering full compensation.
Punitive damages punish defendants and deter them from acting similarly in the future. Punitive damages are awards in addition to money for economic and non-economic damages. State laws often limit the amount of punitive damages in certain matters. Consult your attorney about punitive damages and the likelihood of receiving them in your case and your state.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Today
Getting an experienced attorney is your best next step if you were in a crash with a commercial truck. Accident victims fare better with legal representation, and they can better focus on their physical recovery.
Contact an experienced Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible if you or a family member have been in a traffic accident with a truck driver. Start protecting your rights by setting up your free case evaluation.