After you're involved in a truck accident, choosing the right lawyer to handle your case is important. So what questions should you ask a truck accident attorney to make sure he or she is the right one for you?
Truck accident injuries and fatalities are on the rise, according to the latest government data. But unlike "regular" car crashes, pursuing a truck accident lawsuit often requires particular knowledge in areas such as vehicle codes, individual and employer liability issues, and how to deal with the trucking company's lawyers and insurance agents.
There are many factors to consider in a truck accident case, so here are five questions you may want to ask your prospective lawyer:
- Where are you licensed to practice law? In order to legally practice law in the state where your truck accident occurred, attorneys must be licensed by that state's bar association. So be sure to find an attorney who's licensed in the state where you live in or the state where the accident occurred. Keep in mind that national law firms will often have local attorneys who can help.
- What are your legal fees? Depending on the complexity of your case, attorneys will either charge a contingency fee, a flat fee, or an hourly rate. Contingency fees are based on a percentage of the amount awarded in the case, so if you don't win, the lawyer doesn't collect the fee -- but you'll still have to pay some expenses. Flat fees are usually offered in more simple cases, while hourly fees will accrue as the case goes on. You should find an attorney whose fees work with your budget and expectations.
- Have you handled truck accident cases before? Finding an attorney who's experienced in dealing with truck accident claims is essential because these claims often involve multiple parties including the truck driver and the trucking company. Truck accident cases can also require a lot of technical evidence such as truck maintenance reports, training records, and employment handbooks. So make sure your attorney knows the ins and outs of successfully litigating a truck accident case.
- Is a truck accident lawsuit worth the effort? One question to ask a truck accident attorney is you even have a case that's worth pursuing. For example, in states that have pure contributory negligence laws, injured parties may not be able to collect any damages even if they're found to be just 1 percent at fault. So if you live in one of those states and may have contributed to the accident (for example, by following the truck too closely), you may have a hard time winning your case. Your lawyer will be able to help you analyze your situation from both a legal and a practical standpoint.
- What documents should I bring to my initial consultation? You should bring all documents relevant to your accident to your initial consultation. This may include medical records, pictures of the damage, and any details you may have collected from other drivers and witnesses at the scene.
If you're ready to meet with an attorney to discuss your potential truck accident case, you can find an experienced personal injury attorney near you today.
Editor's Note, March 8, 2016: This post was first published in March 2014. It has since been updated.