With tractor-trailer accidents and fatalities on the rise, the amount of litigation stemming from these accidents is also sure to increase. It is vitally important that people who have been injured in truck accidents seek out high-quality legal representation, so that they are able to recover the damages to which they are entitled. A good attorney for a case like this will have specialized knowledge of the issues surrounding truck accidents, including experience trying similar cases.
What to Look for in a Tractor Trailer Accident Attorney
Here are some factors to consider when looking for and choosing a lawyer to represent you in a truck accident case:
1. State or jurisdiction in which the attorney is licensed: Make sure the attorney you hire is licensed to practice law by the bar association in the state where the attorney is located and the attorney does not have legitimate bar complaints against her or him.
2. Attorney’s legal fees: Find out how the attorney will bill your case. An attorney can charge a contingency fee, a flat fee, or an hourly rate. In personal injury cases, the attorney will usually charge a contingency fee and anywhere from 20% to 45% of the gross recovery, depending on the nature and complexity of the case and any potential liability issues. This means that the attorney will collect a percentage of the total verdict or settlement from the other party or their insurer. The law firm generally pays all expenses related to the case (such as expert witness fees, deposition transcripts, medical records, and demonstrative exhibits) and also receives a reimbursement of the case expenses. Depending on the jurisdiction and state bar regulations, if you lose the case, the attorney may collect nothing.
3. Attorney’s experience handling tractor trailer accident cases: Truck accident lawsuits often involve multiple parties, have insurance coverage issues and have experienced defense attorneys and insurance adjusters immediately notified after the collision and on the accident scene. Sometimes before the innocent injured party has even made it to the emergency room. Lawyers who know how to handle truck accident cases, recognize the need to investigate the case as soon as possible and preserve as much evidence as soon as possible. Make no mistake, the trucking company and it’s insurance carrier are preparing to defend the case right away. Truck wreck cases include voluminous documents, comprehensive regulations and these cases often include a lot of technical evidence. The attorney needs experience handling truck wrecks. You should always ask how many truck accident cases the lawyer has handled in the past, how many actually went to trial and the attorney’s success record at trial.
4. Attorney’s old clients and trial experience: Ask the lawyer for a list of references from previous clients, in particular clients who actually had a personal injury claim that went to trial. Many lawyers never see the inside of a courtroom, yet post on the law firm’s website or advertise how they are experienced trial attorneys. A majority of personal injury cases do indeed settle without a jury trial. Insurance companies and defense lawyers know which plaintiff’s law firms will go to court and which firms do not go to court. Make no mistake, lawyers who only settle their cases and who do not go to trial receive less money for their clients. Make sure the attorney you are interested in hiring has the requisite trial experience and talk to the former clients about their trial. Sometimes the best way to learn about a lawyer and the law firm is not from the law firm’s website or by the lawyer’s list of accomplishments, but by spending a few minutes talking to their former clients.
5. Whether you have a strong case: You will want to ask any potential plaintiff’s attorney his opinion on the strength of your case. You do not want to spend valuable time and money pursuing a case that you are going to lose. Find out whether you live in a state with a pure contributory negligence law. If you do, and a jury finds you were even one percent responsible for the accident, you will not be able to collect a single penny in damages. Make sure to find an attorney who is honest about both the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
6. The client’s interests come first: Many law firms are not accustomed to dealing with large monetary offers of settlement or catastrophic personal injury claims that may be worth millions of dollars. Always make sure that the law firm has the experience with truck accident cases and puts your interests first. Your personal injury claim is important to you and often involves life changing circumstances and injuries. Do not pick a law firm that does not have your best interests at heart.
What to Do if You Have Been Injured in a Truck Accident
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a traffic accident involving a tractor-trailer, you should contact a personal injury attorney at the Atlanta law firm of Goldstein Hayes & Lina, P.C. immediately. Our lawyers know how to handle a truck accident case and have significant trial experience with truck accident cases. Let us help guide you during this difficult time.