What Questions Should You Ask Before Hiring a Truck Accident Lawyer
If you were hurt in a truck accident, you might be thinking about hiring an attorney to help with your claim. When looking for a lawyer, many truck accident victims only think about whether they have a case or not. However, there are many more questions you should ask during your initial consultation. The answers the attorney provides will help you determine whether the lawyer is the right one for your particular case.
Have You Handled Truck Accident Cases Like Mine Before?
Accidents involving commercial trucks are some of the worst seen on the roads. They are very different from accidents involving two passenger cars, and they involve many more complex issues that the attorney must know how to deal with. After a truck accident, you will likely have to go up against a big trucking company and possibly multiple insurance companies with many resources at their disposal. This is why it’s so important to only work with an attorney who has extensive experience handling truck accident cases like yours. An attorney with experience will understand the challenges associated with your case and be able to tackle them head-on.
What Percentage of Truck Accident Injury Lawsuits Do You Settle Each Year? What Percentage Do You Take to Trial Each Year?
There are two options for a truck accident case. It can settle out of court, with the accident victim receiving a negotiated settlement, or it can go to trial for a jury to decide. Most truck accident cases settle out of court. However, the insurance companies and at-fault party don’t always want to pay. When this is the case, it must go to trial.
This is why it is crucial that you choose an attorney who has successfully handled a number of cases that have both settled and gone to trial. This shows you are working with an attorney who will go to trial when necessary and won’t back down from aggressive insurance companies.
What Is My Case Worth?
A question that accident victims have all the time is how much their case is worth. Truthfully, without fully reviewing a case and taking the time to document damages, no attorney can make an accurate estimate upfront. However, according to the Texas law, injured accident victims are entitled to claim certain damages. Learning what these damages are can help accident victims understand how much their claim is worth.
Damages in a Texas personal injury claim are divided into economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that have an actual dollar value. They include:
- Lost wages: Many accident victims, particularly truck accident victims, are unable to work after a crash. When this is the case and a victim cannot return to work either permanently or temporarily, they are entitled to compensation for those losses.
- Medical expenses: Medical bills make up the bulk of truck accident claims. Medical costs in Texas are exorbitant, and Texas law recognizes that victims of negligent truck accidents should not have to pay for these costs.
- Rehabilitative costs: Truck accident victims often have to undergo extensive rehabilitation to recover from their injuries. This is not only time-consuming, but costly.
- Other economic losses: It’s not only lost wages and medical expenses that make up an accident claim. Other economic losses include items such as gas bills to and from doctor’s appointments, and any other expenses incurred as a result of the injury.
Non-economic damages are losses that do not have a concrete quantifiable value. These damages are meant to compensate accident victims for their intangible losses. These damages include:
- Pain and suffering: These losses are meant to compensate for the physical pain and emotional pain the accident victim incurred as a result of the crash.
- Loss of consortium: When an accident leaves the victim unable to enjoy an intimate relationship with their spouse, they are entitled to compensation for those losses.
- Disfigurement or permanent disability: When injuries cause disfigurement or permanent disability, Texas law recognizes these are losses that are more difficult to overcome. As such, accident victims can claim compensation for the loss.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: When a commercial motor vehicle accident renders a victim unable to enjoy the things they once did, those hurt can file a claim for compensation.
In addition to these damages, in rare cases, a court may award exemplary damages, also known as punitive damages. These damages are awarded when the at-fault party showed gross negligence or wrongdoing. Texas does have a cap on these damages in the amount of $250,000 per plaintiff.
What Kind of Evidence Should I Collect?
Truck accident claims rest on evidence. Without evidence, there is no way to prove liability and, as such, there is no claim. The most important evidence after a truck accident includes:
- Your vehicle: Damage to your vehicle can provide important information about how the accident occurred. It is for this reason that you should keep your vehicle in the same condition it was in after the accident until your attorney can document it as evidence. Repairing it may erase any critical evidence that could help your claim.
- Photos from the scene: Take photos of your car, the truck, its license plate, the positioning of the vehicles, your injuries, and anything else that you think could be used as evidence.
- Witness statements: Be sure to ask for the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident. Take notes about what they saw.
- Police accident report: Request a copy of the crash report from the law enforcement officers who respond to the scene.
In addition to the initial evidence that you collect, your attorney will also work to obtain:
- Inspection reports: Trucks are required to undergo extensive inspections before they can head out on the road. The reason for this is to ensure they are safe to be on the road, and that everyone around them will be kept safe. Failing to have an inspection done is considered negligence and can prove a truck driver or trucking company is liable.
- Driving logs: Texas law only allows truck drivers to operate a truck for 12 hours after an eight-hour break. Driving logs provide insight into the time a driver has spent on the road. When these logs are not maintained, or they are falsified, it is also considered negligence.
- Cargo logs: Trucks are only allowed to carry so much weight in cargo. When a truck is too full, it can cause brake failure, which is disastrous for other vehicles on the road. Improperly loaded or unsecured cargo can also lead to an accident.
- Electronic monitoring data: Most trucks today have a black box, which monitors electronic data. This data includes how fast the truck was going and how long it was in operation before the crash.
Collecting evidence as quickly as possible after a crash is important because evidence has a way of disappearing or getting lost. The attorney you choose should be prepared to begin gathering evidence on your case immediately.
What If the Other Person’s Insurance Company Contacts Me?
Soon after a truck accident, the other side’s insurance company will likely contact you. They will appear friendly and act like they want to help. They do not. They want to get a statement from you so they can take your words out of context and make it seem like you contributed to the accident. They may even ask to take a recorded statement. Do not provide them with this. In fact, refer them directly to your attorney without commenting on the crash.
An attorney will also advise against signing a medical release, which would give the insurance company access to your medical records. They want access to these records so they can search for a pre-existing condition and deny you compensation. If any insurance company asks you for one, you should refuse.
Is a Truck Accident Lawsuit Worth the Effort?
A truck accident is a very traumatic event. Many times, accident victims want to simply move forward with their life. They want to focus on their recovery and try to put the whole incident out of their mind. The idea of filing a lawsuit can be daunting. However, if you are coping with serious injuries and missing time from worth, it is worth pursuing a claim.
Without proper compensation, you are responsible for paying all of your medical bills, including expenses that may come up in the future related to your injury. You also must cope with burning through sick time and vacation time and missing paychecks.
Accident victims who don’t claim compensation for injuries after a crash are often eventually crippled by that decision. By the time they realize they should have filed a lawsuit, it’s too late. Although today you may just want to forget about the accident, months or even years from now, you may find yourself wishing you had filed a claim.
Were You in a Crash? Call Our San Antonio Truck Accident Lawyers Today
If you were hurt in a truck accident, don’t wait to call our truck accident lawyers in San Antonio today. At Ketterman Rowland & Westlund, we know how catastrophic truck accidents are, and we are passionate about demanding full compensation for accident victims. Contact us today for your free consultation so we can start reviewing your case.