Semi-truck crashes are a nightmare for most drivers. Because of their enormous size and weight, trucks can cause catastrophic damage and leave you seriously injured.
When you’re involved in a semi-truck accident, the experience may be nerve-wracking at first. However, try your best to remain calm and collect evidence. You’ll also need to consult a lawyer to defend you during the arbitration process.
In this regard, note that trucking accident cases are not the same as other auto collisions. They often involve intricate legal problems, liability issues, and multiple parties. You want to work with an experienced semi-truck accident attorney to cover all your bases effectively. The right lawyer will improve your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve.
But not all advocates are cut from the same cloth. The only way to determine if a semi-truck accident lawyer is a good fit for your case is to investigate their background and methods. Here are six questions you should ask a potential attorney before trusting them with your case.
6 Questions to Ask Your Attorney Before Hiring
- Do You Have Experience with Similar Cases?
As mentioned, semi-truck accidents are in a league of their own, partly due to the devastation they cause. Broken bones aside, drivers/passengers hit by semi-trucks can suffer life-altering injuries to their neck, back, head, spinal cord, and torso. They are also at risk for:
- Seatbelt wounds
- Internal damage
Moreover, trucking laws differ from average automobile regulations. For example, according to the Hours of Service Regulations, property-carrying drivers can work up to 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off-duty. If the at-fault driver has violated this guideline, they may be held accountable for their actions. But for this, the potential attorney must be well aware of how the trucking industry works.
When consulting a semi-truck accident lawyer, ask about their track record with commercial truck accidents. How many cases have they settled? Do they generally win? Are they aware of specific trucking laws? Do they have the resources to review new trucking regulations? Answers to these questions will tell you a lot about the attorney’s expertise.
- What Damages Can You Help Me Recover?
Truck accident cases aren’t always straightforward. Hence, a lawyer cannot tell you exactly how much you will receive in settlement. But they should be able to tally up the damages and offer a ballpark figure.
Some of the most common damages you can pursue in a truck accident case are as follows:
- Medical bills: Your settlement will include past, present, and future healthcare costs associated with your accident.
- Emotional distress: Semi-truck crashes often have a massive mental impact on survivors. In this regard, you can push for mental anguish damages.
- Disability: If the semi-truck accident leaves you disfigured or disabled, you may be eligible for additional compensation.
- Lost wages: You may be temporarily (or permanently) out of work following a trucking accident. A semi-truck accident lawyer will help you recover lost wages.
- Who Is at Fault for the Crash?
It is hard to prove fault in a semi-truck accident case. While some situations are obvious, others may need further probing.
For example, a truck driver who plowed through a red light and rear-ended your vehicle will be held responsible for the crash immediately. But in case the truck was fitted with defective vehicle parts (malfunctioning brakes, among other things), the manufacturing company may also be to blame.
As you can see, there are plenty of working parts to these cases. Your attorney should dig deep to discover the truth, so you can file a claim against the right party.
- Will You Represent Me in Court?
Most trucking accident cases settle out of court. Your attorney will compile all the evidence, build a solid case, and contact the trucker’s insurance company to kickstart the negotiations.
It’s worth mentioning that insurance companies are notorious for cheating victims out of a reasonable payout. Despite your lawyer’s best efforts, they may dig in their heels and refuse to offer fair compensation. If this happens, your attorney should be prepared to go to trial.
Ask your lawyer if they have any previous litigation experience. Court trials are complicated, and you want someone who can hold their own before a jury.
- How Do You Charge Your Fees?
Generally, semi-truck accident lawyers work on a contingency fees structure. This means that they don’t get paid unless you receive a settlement or court verdict. Your lawyer will then receive a percentage of your total payout.
However, if your case goes to trial, you may need expert witnesses, accident reconstruction, or extensive research to support your claim. Does the attorney expect you to pay for these services? Or will they add these charges to their final quote?
You must understand the terms of your lawyer’s fee agreement before signing the papers. A reputable semi-truck accident attorney will have no problem answering questions about their fees.
- Are You Open to Communication?
You may have several questions about your trucking accident case. Consequently, you need a lawyer who is open, honest, and responsive. They should keep you in the loop every step of the way.
During the initial consultation, ask your potential semi-truck accident lawyer the following:
- How long does it take for them to respond to questions?
- What mode of communication do they prefer?
- What role will you play in the decision-making process?
- Who will you be speaking to the most – the attorney or a paralegal?
- Will you receive progress reports?
Remember, you have every right to know what’s going on with your semi-truck accident settlement. More importantly, it is your attorney’s job to keep you informed of the proceedings. If they cannot communicate proactively, you should consider it a red flag.
The Bottom Line
Trucking accidents come with several physical, emotional, and financial problems. A reputed lawyer can fight for your rights and help you get back on your feet. But remember that you don’t have to hire the first semi-truck accident lawyer you find online. Use the above questions to vet your options and decide on the right candidate.
Or, you can skip the search and give Henriksen & Henriksen a call. As veteran semi-truck accident lawyers in Utah, we know how to do things right the first time around. Plus, we’re always willing to go the distance for our clients. If you need a consultation, reach out to us today!