After a catastrophic truck collision, you’ll likely face devastating injuries, financial strains from mounting bills, and an uphill battle to recover maximum compensation from insurers. Having the right truck accident attorney in your corner makes all the difference in getting the settlement you deserve. But not all lawyers possess the right skills. Choosing knowledgeable, experienced counsel is crucial for your claim.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to select the best attorney for your specific needs after a semi, 18-wheeler, or commercial trucking accident:
Step 1: Research Truck Accident Lawyers in Your Area
Don’t just go with the first lawyer you see on a TV commercial or billboard. Finding an attorney with specialized expertise in commercial trucking accident claims takes some research. Start by searching these resources:
State Bar Association Directory – Most state bar associations provide searchable listings of licensed attorneys by location and practice area. Look for lawyers who emphasize truck, semi, or 18-wheeler accident experience.
American Association for Justice Directory – AAJ is a national legal organization that compiles attorney profiles by specialty. Their truck accident lawyer directory lets you search by state.
Law Firm Websites – Look for firms emphasizing trucking litigation and highlights of case results obtained. Bigger firms with extensive resources are ideal for major injury cases.
Legal Directories – Sites like Avvo, Lawyers.com, and SuperLawyers rate and compile background info on attorneys. But always verify details yourself.
Referrals – Ask friends, family, your own doctor or health providers for lawyer recommendations. Other attorneys may also suggest someone given your needs.
Step 2: Verify Extensive Truck Accident Experience
Never assume a personal injury lawyer has the right skills for truck accidents just because they handle car crashes. The laws, regulations, and insurance issues differ greatly. It’s absolutely essential the attorney has extensive experience specifically litigating truck wrecks similar to yours.
- How many years have you been handling truck accident cases? How many have you taken to trial?
- What percentage of your current caseload involves truck crashes?
- Are you up-to-date on changing federal trucking regulations?
- Do you have experience investigating trucking companies’ safety records and policies?
- Can you handle complex liability scenarios involving multiple defendants?
Ideally, you want an attorney handling trucking cases on a daily basis. Truck crash litigation should be their top specialty.
Step 3: Make Sure They Have Sufficient Resources
Litigating against major truck insurers requires substantial resources – investigatory teams, large support staff, legal technology, and funds to pay case expenses.
A single lawyer can’t handle these complex cases effectively. Look for well-staffed firms with 10-20 attorneys and offices in multiple locations. Their depth of experience and funding are immense assets.
- How large is your law firm? How many attorneys work there?
- Do you utilize professionals like investigators, accident reconstructionists, and medical experts?
- Will you have the resources to take my case to trial if necessary?
Bigger isn’t always better, but you want a substantial firm with a proven record of success litigating truck wrecks.
Step 4: Evaluate Case Results and Verdicts/Settlements
The most important measure of any lawyer is their case results. Have they regularly obtained major financial recoveries for clients? High verdicts and settlements demonstrate skill at maximizing compensation.
- What are some of your biggest past verdicts or settlements for truck accident clients?
- What is the range of compensation your clients typically recover?
- Can you provide proof of past results like news stories or verifiable legal databases?
Search established jury verdict reporting services like VerdictSearch.com or JuryVerdictAlert.com to fact check an attorney’s biggest case wins. Their track record offers valuable insight into potential value of your claim.
Step 5: Ensure Strong Communication and Compatibility
You’ll be discussing intimate details of your life and health with your attorney for months or longer. Make sure your communication styles mesh well. Trust and transparency are crucial.
Before hiring, have an initial face-to-face consultation to evaluate:
- Did they listen attentively and let you explain your situation?
- Were they personable while still maintaining professionalism?
- Do you feel comfortable talking to and confiding in them?
- Will their staff give your case proper attention and respect?
This relationship dynamic is pivotal. Never retain a lawyer you don’t implicitly trust.
Step 6: Understand How Fees Work
The right truck accident attorney for you depends somewhat on your financial situation and how fees are structured:
Contingency Fees – Most trucking lawyers work on contingency, meaning they only get paid if you receive a settlement. Their fee is typically 33-40% of the total. Initial consults are free.
Hourly Rates – Less common, but some may charge hourly rates plus expenses, ranging $200-$500+ per hour based on experience. Get fee estimates in writing up front.
Hybrid Approach – Some use contingency but bill hourly for parts of the case like trial, adding their hourly amount to the contingency percentage you already owe.
If paying by contingency, verify exactly what case expenses you may owe even without a settlement. Things like court filing fees, expert witness fees, investigation costs can add up. Discuss who pays what and get it in writing.
Step 7: Interview Multiple Top Candidates Before Deciding
Schedule initial case evaluations with several of your top choices before making a final hiring decision. Most consultations are free and no pressure.
Come prepared with key case facts, a list of questions, and documents like medical records. Gauge how each attorney assesses your situation, communicates, and presents their approach. You want someone who exudes competence and makes you feel confident entrusting them with your case.
After meeting candidates, reflect on who seemed most capable, engaged, and eager to take on your claim. Then move forward with retaining that firm.
Step 8: Act Quickly to Hire Your Chosen Lawyer
The sooner you secure legal representation after a truck crash, the better. Evidence gets lost, witnesses’ memories fade, and legal time limits apply. Too many delays can jeopardize your claim.
Once you’ve identified the best attorney, finalize retaining them quickly by signing their rep agreement. Then provide details like:
- Date, time, and location of the accident
- What happened and who was involved
- Your injuries and current treatment status
- Health and auto insurers involved
This gets the ball rolling on investigating your crash, demanding evidence, and notifying insurers that experienced legal representation is now involved.
With the right truck accident attorney guiding you through the claims process, you can feel confident knowing you’ll recover maximum compensation for your losses. Do your research, ask the right questions, and trust your gut in choosing reliable counsel that fits your needs. Your lawyer makes all the difference.