If you were injured in a truck accident, you likely face protracted treatment and hefty medical bills. You shouldn’t have to pay for these out of pocket — you’ve suffered enough as it is.
That’s where truck accident lawyers come in. These legal professionals help truck accident survivors seek fair compensation for their injuries.
However, not just any lawyer would do: Read on to learn how to choose the right truck accident attorney for your case and maximize your potential payout.
Experience in Trucking Cases
While truck accident claims are a branch of personal injury law, you don’t want to hire just any personal injury lawyer.
Some personal injury attorneys are generalists and do a bit of everything — from dog bites and bicycle accidents to medical malpractice and premises liability.
There’s nothing wrong with being a generalist, but truck accidents require in-depth knowledge and extensive hands-on experience. Here are a couple of reasons why:
Insurance Companies Put Up More of a Fight in Trucking Cases
Familiarity with auto accident law is definitely required but not sufficient, as truck accidents are very different from crashes involving passenger cars.
Due to the size and weight of many commercial vehicles, truck accidents are more likely to cause catastrophic and fatal injuries. As a general rule, the more severe the injury, the higher the settlement amount.
As you might imagine, insurers and trucking companies don’t like making substantial payouts. That’s why they employ teams of insurance adjusters, investigators, and defense attorneys whose job is to find weaknesses in your claim and minimize your settlement award. Some trucking companies would go as far as deleting the truck’s black box data or destroying other crucial evidence.
You likely don’t have the resources to face these large corporations alone. Having an experienced truck accident lawyer on your team levels the playing field and increases your chances of success.
Truck Accidents Present Unique Legal Challenges
Truck crashes are more challenging from a purely technical and legal perspective than “regular” car accidents.
For one, the causes of the crash can be numerous and more complicated. The trucking industry is also subject to a complex web of regulations — such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) — that don’t apply to other auto accident cases.
Additionally, many truck accident cases involve multiple overlapping insurance policies and more than one potentially liable party, including:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The owners of the cargo
- The freight loading company
- The mechanic who serviced the vehicle
- The vehicle or parts manufacturer
All of that can make it hard for a generalist lawyer to confidently handle your case.
Proven Record of Success
Our second tip on how to choose the right truck accident attorney is to check the lawyer’s track record. Past experience doesn’t necessarily equate success, so you want to ensure that your prospective attorney has a good success rate.
Start by visiting the law firm’s website, which may feature the number of successful truck accident cases, notable settlement amounts, or client reviews. But don’t stop there. Be sure to also check out independent third-party directories such as Avvo or Martindale-Hubbell for a more objective perspective.
During your initial consultation with the attorney, you should also ask about their success rate in similar cases.
Jury Trial Experience
The vast majority of truck accident claims settle out of court, usually in the form of insurance payouts. Negotiating a settlement is quicker, easier, and less costly than pursuing a full-fledged lawsuit. That means you can have your check and put the whole experience behind you sooner.
However, settling isn’t the optimal resolution for all accident survivors — whether because the insurer is trying to peddle a low-ball offer or the circumstances of the crash are such that a jury is likely to award a substantial compensation.
The reality of the legal industry is that many attorneys will seek to settle out of court because that means less work for them, even if you might benefit from initiating a lawsuit. To protect your interests, be sure to inquire about the attorney’s trial record and success rate. You want to work with someone who won’t hesitate to take your case to court if necessary.
In addition to knowing the law, a good truck accident lawyer needs extensive knowledge about Orange County. If your attorney is familiar with the area where the crash occurred, they will be in a much better position to assess the circumstances and build a robust case.
Moreover, if you end up taking your case to trial, you will want an attorney who knows their way around the local courts and knows local judges and insurance defense attorneys.
Good communication is paramount to a productive attorney-client relationship. Your lawyer should be able to explain your options and walk you through the insurance claims and court process using clear everyday language.
You should also be able to reach your lawyer easily if you have any questions or concerns. Many law firms delegate routine legal work to paralegals or junior attorneys. That’s perfectly normal, but it shouldn’t interfere with your ability to contact your attorney.
With that in mind, during your initial consultation, ask who the attorney in charge of your case will be and how they will keep you informed about the progress of your case.
Personal injury law firms typically work on a contingency fee basis. That means they won’t charge you upfront but will take a percentage of your compensation if you win the case — usually, around 33%.
Still, you might have to pay some costs out of pocket, including court filing, copying, and expert witness fees. In some cases, you may have to cover certain costs even if you lose. Be sure to request a detailed fee breakdown before hiring anyone.
Still Not Sure How To Choose the Right Truck Accident Attorney?
Our experienced legal team at Khalil Law Group can review your case and recommend next steps. Call (714) 617-7870 to book your free consultation with a skilled truck accident attorney in Orange County, CA.