What Should I Do After an 18-Wheeler Truck Accident?
The first and most important thing is to hire an experienced 18-wheeler accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. Fighting large trucking companies is something you will need experience to do. These companies have vast resources, including teams of lawyers and experts more than prepared to fight against any lawsuit that comes their way. Having a truck injury lawyer by your side gives you the peace of mind needed to help you recover.
An experienced truck accident lawyer will get the evidence needed to prove your truck accident claim, negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, represent your interests in the courtroom, and make sure you get the compensation you deserve
But there are steps you can follow after an accident with an 18-wheeler to help protect your future truck accident claim:
- At the accident scene, remain calm and stay in your vehicle unless you need to get out for safety reasons. Call 911 and do not leave the scene.
- Record all the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any parties involved, particularly witnesses. You will also want to write down the names and badge numbers of any police officers investigating the accident.
- Photograph and take a video of the scene, including vehicles and injuries. Make sure you get the truck driver’s employer information.
- Seek medical attention, even if you don’t think you were injured at the time of the accident. Many times, injuries don’t present themselves until hours or days after the accident.
- Immediately notify your insurance company after the accident so the claim process can start. When speaking with your insurance company, stick to the facts of the case and do not admit fault.
- Do not discuss the accident with anyone except the police or your own insurance agent; you are not required to give a statement to anyone but the police and your insurance company.
Finding the Best Truck Accident Lawyers
You may hear the term “personal injury attorney” thrown around when looking for help. A personal injury attorney handles injury cases, but even they have certain types of cases they regularly handle. Finding one who has the right background in trucking is imperative.
Experience With Trucking Accidents
Look for a lawyer who has experience with trucking accidents. This is more than someone with experience with auto accidents; the injuries and damage from trucking accidents are a lot worse than the damage from most auto accidents. The trucking industry is subject to different regulations than passenger cars. Trucks pose a unique set of hazards, and there may be multiple parties involved—including drivers, trucking companies, maintenance facilities, and owners. Specifically, ask the attorney what their background is on trucking incidents.
Negotiations might turn out to be the most important part of your lawsuit. Think of it like a balancing act. Your lawyer will present the facts, use strategy and tactics, and formulate a strong argument for why you should recover damages and how much.
Each state has its own laws for damages. In some states, if you’re found to have any portion of liability, you might not be able to recover damages.
Lawyers usually handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that instead of charging you an hourly rate, the lawyer gets a percentage of the amount you receive in a settlement or at trial. The lawyer’s percentage typically starts at around 33% but will be higher if the case progresses to a lawsuit or trial, to reflect the additional work the lawyer does on your behalf. If your lawyer isn’t able to recover any money, you don’t owe any legal fees.
You’ll also probably be responsible for out-of-pocket costs such as court filing fees, expert witness fees, and copying costs. In many cases, the costs will be deducted at the end from any recovery you receive. Depending on the lawyer and the case, you may have to pay costs even if you lose.
Most personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation to discuss your case and explain their fee structure. Once you choose a lawyer, you should receive a written contingency fee agreement to sign. Read it carefully and ask as many questions as you need to so you understand what you’ll be paying.
Reputation is possibly the best gauge for how successful your lawyer is and how they’ll work with opposing counsel. If you can get word-of-mouth referrals from friends, coworkers, or other people you know personally, that’s the best way to find a good lawyer.
If a lawyer has been successful and responsive to other clients, it means that in addition to being good at their job, they also probably have the respect of other lawyers in the community. If your case is in a small city or town, lawyers and judges know one another’s reputations. You want to work with an attorney who already has the respect of the community.
If you don’t have referrals, you can ask a prospective lawyer for a list of client references. You can also search online for reviews, news articles, and other information that would indicate whether people have had generally positive experiences with the firm.
Find an attorney who has trial experience. Some attorneys will focus on getting settlements from the insurance company quickly. This requires the least amount of work for them to do. You want someone willing to put the resources into getting you what you deserve, and has the experience to fight for that and win in a courtroom, if necessary.
It’s important that you feel that you can talk to the attorney. Your lawyer is going to be part of your recovery team and will have access to a lot of personal information. You want someone who you trust and feel that you can disclose all information to and they’ll understand and be on your side. If you feel as if the attorney is talking down to you in the consultation, this is probably a good indication that they aren’t the attorney for you.
A truck accident might require several experts to establish liability. Depending on the nature of the accident, your lawyer might require accident reconstruction experts, traffic engineers, medical experts, actuaries, and others who will help build your case based on the available evidence.
An experienced truck accident lawyer will have a roster of experts they rely on for these kinds of cases. Ask your lawyer about those experts. How many times have they worked together? How much experience do the experts have? Does your lawyer have the financial resources to hire the best experts?
When talking to a lawyer, you should have a good understanding of what is going on. Lawyers who stick to attorney jargon and don’t simplify the language may not be a good fit for you.
Also, ask the attorney what the process is to keep you updated on the progress of the case. Many attorneys use paralegals and assistants to handle routine parts of the case like collecting documents, so it’s likely you’ll be interacting with the office staff as well as the lawyer. While it might not be pertinent to notify you of every little thing, you want an attorney who makes it a practice of keeping clients informed on the case.
Why You Should Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer
Truck accidents are complicated, and there are often many potential causes and responsible parties. If a truck swerved into your lane, was it because the driver fell asleep, or the steering failed? Was the driver sleepy from drugs, alcohol, or being required to pull too many shifts? Did the steering fail because of a manufacturing defect, failure to do maintenance, or shoddy work at the maintenance facility? How do you calculate your future medical expenses and lost income from the accident?
Getting to the bottom of these issues is where truck accident attorneys shine. Without a lawyer, it’s very difficult to navigate the system, understand the full extent of your losses and negotiate the best settlement.