What to Ask a Truck Accident Lawyer
Just as any motor vehicle accident, collisions involving commercial trucks occur for a variety of reasons.
If you suffer from injuries after an accident involving a commercial truck, you should always contact an experienced truck accident lawyer. In selecting an attorney, choose someone who will advocate for your best interests. You should schedule a free consultation and ask the attorney several questions when determining whether to obtain their representation.
Some important questions to ask include:
What area of law do you practice and how many cases similar to mine have you settled or taken to court?
The attorney should have experience handling personal injury cases—both settling them out of court and taking them to trial. In particular, an attorney should have experience handling personal injury claims involving commercial trucks. When a commercial truck has caused an accident, the legal process is often much more complicated than accidents involving passenger vehicles.
Commercial truck accidents may implicate parties that may share liability for your injuries. Injured parties may recover damages from not only the driver, but also the owner of the truck, the company leasing the truck, the truck or parts manufacturer, or the dispatcher.
Due to the number of responsible parties, hire an attorney with experience identifying potential liability. A personal injury attorney who only handles slip and fall or dog bite accidents will not be familiar with the intricacies associated with commercial truck accidents.
What were the outcomes of the truck accident cases you have worked on?
The outcomes of prior cases handled by the attorney often provide a good picture of their success rate. An experienced attorney should have a good mix of cases that he or she settled and cases he or she took to court. The amounts the attorney was able to recover for different clients should be varied. For example, not every case will settle for over $100,000, but a trustworthy attorney should have a few cases with exceptionally high payouts.
Who is the primary attorney handling my case?
Make sure the attorney you want will be in control of handling your case. Oftentimes, law firms employ attorneys, many of which may be less experienced than those who handle the cases that receive large settlements.
How long do you expect my case to take?
It is impossible to know exactly how long the legal process will take; however, your attorney should estimate the length of time required to resolve your case. Injured victims are often financially burdened by medical expenses. Tending to your recovery and pursuing a legal action may cause you to miss time from work, increasing your financial stress.
It is natural to wonder when you might receive compensation to pay your medical bills. Oftentimes, doctors will work with patients who retain an attorney to defer payment deadlines. This is especially true if you have a strong case that will likely result in a large settlement.
You may benefit from retaining an attorney to start working on your case right away. The sooner settlement negotiations start, the sooner you can get paid from the insurance company. On the other hand, the sooner you realize settlement negotiations will be unsuccessful, the sooner your attorney can begin the process to proceed to trial.
How much do you charge?
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. A contingency fee agreement typically allows clients to pay the fees and costs of representation after their case is resolved. However, if your case is not successful, you may be faced with an additional financial burden. It is important to know how much of your settlement or jury award will be used to cover attorneys’ fees and costs. You should also ask whether costs, such as expert witness fees, are charged upfront or taken out of your recovery.
Have you or anyone in your firm ever been disciplined or censured by legal/ethics committees or the bar association?
If an attorney has been disciplined or censured, you should always ask why. The reason the discipline was imposed might affect how the attorney represents you. In addition, it may question the safety of your compensation, which is typically deposited into the attorney’s escrow account before it is distributed to you.
If I do not believe the settlement is fair, are you willing to go to trial?
Some attorneys just want to take the easy way out and will settle for the best amount offered by the insurance company. However, in many cases, especially truck accidents that could cause permanent injuries, you need an attorney that is very willing to go to trial. If the insurance companies refuse to budge on their offer, which is an amount that will not cover your expenses, an attorney must be prepared to proceed to trial.
A trustworthy attorney should aim to settle, but also expect the case may have to go to trial. This is the attorney who is going to have as much evidence as possible when he or she enters settlement negotiations. They will be prepared to proceed to trial before negotiations ever begin.
How much is my case worth?
The value of your case depends on the costs of your medical bills and the extent of your injuries. If you will be fully recovered in a few months, you can expect less compensation than an individual who is suffering from injuries requiring long-term treatment or permanent disability. In addition, the value of your case may depend on whether the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent. If a defendant’s actions were particularly egregious, you may be entitled to additional compensation in the form of punitive damages.
How much involvement in my case will I have?
You will always have some involvement, such as gathering medical records. However, some clients prefer to be very involved in their case, including attending depositions and meetings. Always verify how much your attorney will you to be involved before deciding to retain their representation.
Do you have references?
Always ask the attorney for references that you may contact. You should also do your own research into the references provided by the attorney.
A free consultation with a truck accident lawyer can help you learn whether a particular firm is the right fit for you.