A moment of negligence at the hands of a commercial trucker can cause permanent damage. The National Security Council reports that the other vehicle's occupants suffer 68% of all injuries in commercial vehicle accidents. These injuries can cost victims hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for treatment. In some cases, these injuries will affect the victim’s ability to retain employment for the rest of their life. Many families have lost loved ones after a commercial vehicle accident.
According to state and federal laws, commercial vehicle accident victims and their families have a right to seek fair compensation. However, before they can do so, they will need to consider the question of representation. The following guide will help truck accident victims determine whether they should hire an attorney, what they should look for in a commercial truck accident attorney, and how to find the right attorney for their case.
Do I Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?
If you are eligible to file a truck accident lawsuit, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced attorney to represent your best interests throughout settlement negotiations or litigation. However, if you are still unsure about hiring an attorney, the following reasons will demonstrate why proper representation is necessary for the success of your commercial truck accident claim.
Evaluating the Worth of Your Losses
Personal injury law differentiates between two types of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages include any costs associated with your commercial truck accident, while non-economic damages include the pain and suffering caused by the accident. While economic losses can be easier to quantify, non-economic damages should be carefully evaluated to ensure you receive fair compensation. A qualified commercial truck injury attorney can assess both your economic and non-economic damages to come up with a clear estimate of the worth of your claim.
Building a Strong Case
If you cannot prove that the commercial driver’s negligence was the direct cause of your injuries, your case will have no legal weight. Building a compelling case requires both knowledge of your state’s personal injury law and the resources to gather sufficient evidence of the driver’s liability. When you hire your attorney, they will begin building the strongest possible case against the commercial driver responsible for your injuries.
Protecting Your Best Interests
Hiring representation ensures that your rights as an accident victim are protected throughout the settlement or litigation process. Your attorney is there to ensure that you aren’t taken advantage of by the commercial driver’s legal representation or their insurance company. Unfortunately, these parties have every incentive to decrease your final settlement and save their client money. Without an attorney to protect them, many accident victims take the first offer for compensation that they get, potentially losing out on thousands of dollars.
Larger Settlement Agreement
Statistically, commercial truck injury victims represented by an attorney win more compensation than those who choose to represent themselves. Most accident victims do not have sufficient knowledge of their state’s personal injury laws or experience in legal negotiation to make sure they receive the justice they deserve. As demonstrated in the reasons above, there are multiple ways that hiring a quality commercial truck injury lawyer contributes to ensuring that you receive the most compensation possible for your economic and non-economic losses.
Qualities of a Good Trucking Accident Attorney
Once you have decided to hire representation, you may be unsure how to choose the right attorney for your case. Every commercial truck accident lawsuit is different, so it is important to ensure an attorney has the necessary qualities to represent your best interests. Hiring an attorney with a combination of the following traits is the most important factor in determining the success of your commercial truck accident lawsuit.
Offers Free Consultations and Contingent-Fee Contracts
Many commercial truck accident victims are reluctant to seek representation because they fear contacting an attorney will mean they are obligated to hire that attorney. Additionally, they may be wary of exorbitant legal fees. Luckily, most quality attorneys offer no-cost, no-obligation initial consultations for new clients. Further, quality attorneys will rarely ask for money upfront. Instead, they operate under contingent-fee contracts, meaning their compensation will be a certain percentage of the final settlement amount.
Relevant Specialty Practice Areas
Personal injury law covers a wide range of specialty practice areas. “Specialty practice area” is a term that refers to an attorney’s particular expertise. For example, attorneys may have specialty practice areas in worker’s compensation, medical malpractice, or premises liability. For commercial truck accident victims, your attorney must have relevant specialty practice areas to your case.
Experience Representing Trucking Accident Victims
A lawyer’s experience is one of the most important factors in establishing them as experts in the field. When you begin your search for representation, look closely at the types of cases an attorney has represented. While you could hire any practicing personal injury attorney, an attorney who has previously helped commercial trucking accident victims win fair compensation for their injuries is more likely to represent your claim successfully.
Expertise in Settlement Negotiation
While your commercial truck injury claim may eventually go to court, most of these cases are settled in outside negotiations between your attorney and the commercial driver’s insurer. Therefore, it is essential to hire an attorney who has proven their skill in negotiating fair compensation for their clients. Many law firms will share their attorneys’ recent wins in settlement negotiations
How to Hire a Trucking Accident Lawyer
Now that you know what you are looking for in a good commercial truck accident attorney, how do you find one? Hiring representation for your case isn’t nearly as complicated as it may seem. By following the steps below, you will easily find a quality local attorney to represent your commercial truck accident lawsuit.
Research Local Attorneys
We have already covered the qualities of a good commercial truck accident attorney above. Now it is time to search for attorneys in your area that embody these qualities and are available to take your case. Spend time looking through different firms’ websites and reading client reviews online. Once you have narrowed down your list to a few options, you can decide which attorney to contact first.
Schedule Initial Consultation
After you’ve found an attorney that you are interested in meeting with, call their office to set up your initial consultation. An initial consultation is sometimes referred to as a case review since the focus of this first meeting will primarily be to assess whether or not you have a case and if the attorney in question is the right one to represent it. Your initial consultation at a reputable law firm will be completely free, and you will not be obligated to hire the attorney if they are not a good fit for your case.
Prepare Questions for Attorney
There will be limited time available during this initial meeting, so be sure to address all of your most critical questions. Before your appointment, prepare a list of any questions regarding your commercial truck accident or the settlement/litigation process. Making sure that your attorney answers all your questions will enable you to make a more informed decision after your initial consultation.
Legal Resources for Trucking Accident Victims
With thousands of commercial vehicle accident victims across the country, it is important that victims realize that they are not alone. Many resources have been founded specifically to help accident victims explore their legal options. The following resources can help you begin your search for cost-effective, quality legal advice.
Legal Services Corporation
Income should not be a barrier to receiving quality legal representation. The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit that exists to provide legal aid for low-income individuals seeking legal restitution for their injuries. When you visit the LSC website, you will be prompted to enter your address to find legal aid organizations near you. To benefit from these services, you will be expected to provide proof of income.
National Disability Rights Network
If you or a loved one are disabled and were injured in a commercial truck accident, the National Disability Rights Network may be able to help you find legal advocacy services. NDRN is affiliated with the federal Protection and Advocacy Systems and Client Assistance Programs. These programs have agencies in all 50 states to ensure any disabled American has access to legal resources.
Armed Forces Legal Services Locator
Many legal resources are specifically geared to those serving in the armed forces, including those provided by the Department of Veteran Affairs. Veterans or active duty military injured in a commercial vehicle accident have the option to use the Armed Forces Legal Services Locator to find military legal assistance offices near them.
Ryan Zehl is one of the country’s most accomplished trial lawyers, with a winning track record that has gained him national media acclaim and the esteem of the legal field. He is an advocate for the catastrophically injured and those who have met tragic deaths due to the negligence of others. As founder of the firm Zehl & Associates, he leads an undefeated personal injury law firm that has recovered billions of dollars in due compensation for accident victims across Texas and the United States. Ryan Zehl holds the record for securing the largest truck accident settlement in Texas at $23.5 million—a recent achievement in a long case history of record-setting settlements and verdicts.