18-wheelers are big vehicles. When they are involved in an accident, the impacts can be devastating. A truck accident attorney can help you claim any compensation you are entitled to and walk you through the legal system. Here’s what you need to keep in mind when finding an attorney for your case.
Their Reputation And Experience
Before you hire any attorney’s services, you first need to be sure that they are up to the task. That means considering their previous experience and their reputation. It is usually a good idea to draw up a shortlist of potential attorneys and then whittle them down to a final choice. This approach is more effective than jumping on the first viable option you come across.
Ideally, you want to hire an attorney who has handled cases similar to yours in the past. You also want to be sure that they are a reputable attorney. In most cases, if you ask a potential attorney for some client references, they will be happy to provide them.
According to Attorney Brian White & Associates, there are roughly 146 motor vehicle accidents involving 18-wheeler and semi-trucks every day on average in Texas. That works out as six truck accidents every hour. With one in every four of these collisions causing an injury, there are plenty of attorneys out there willing to take these cases.
You will no doubt be able to find plenty of attorneys who have experience relevant to your case. But just having the experience is not enough in and of itself. You want to be confident that your attorney is prepared to go the extra mile for you and your case.
If you know someone else who has had cause to hire a truck accident attorney themselves, it is worth asking them about their experiences and recommendations. First-hand experiences are always more useful than the praise of an anonymous internet user. The main advantage of asking other people for their recommendations is that you can then ask them any follow-up questions you might have and immediately get a straight answer.
Similarly, if you know anyone working as a lawyer in any field, they may well have some useful contacts and be able to point you in the direction of a lawyer who can handle a truck accident case.
Do Your Research
Before you hire a lawyer to take on your case, you first need to familiarize yourself with the relevant laws and regulations surrounding truck accidents. A good lawyer will be familiar with regulations of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Different states also have different legislation.
Obviously, your lawyer is there to provide their legal experience and advice. However, it is still worth informing yourself as much as possible. Doing this will make things easier for you and your attorney in the long-run.
For example, it is helpful to know what the most common causes of 18-wheeler accidents are:
- Tired or impaired drivers: There are federal regulations in place dictating how long a truck driver can operate their rig for without taking a rest. No driver should be spending more than 11 hours behind the wheel in any 14 hours. Unfortunately, some drivers ignore these rules, and not all employers are good at enforcing them. The result of this is tired drivers on the road who present a hazard to everyone around them. Being an impaired driver can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk.
Despite the widespread awareness of the dangers of driving while drunk or impaired, some truck drivers still take to the road while under the influence of drink or drugs – there were 10,511 alcohol-impaired fatalities in 2018. These can be medications designed to keep them awake and enable them to power through the long hours. Or it can be alcohol used to self-medicate on the road. In either case, a driver’s abilities can become impaired. If a tired or impaired driver hits you, you will have a solid case for compensation.
- Distracted driving: The modern world is full of potential distractions. Generally, most people try to keep these distractions to a minimum while they are on the road. But some people are seemingly incapable of putting their smartphones down, even when they are in charge of a heavy vehicle. Distracted drivers are significantly more likely to end up in an accident than a focussed and attentive driver. If a distracted driver hits you, you will have a slam-dunk case. The CDC reports there were 2,443,000 injuries caused by distracted driving in 2015.
- Inexperienced drivers: Everyone has to start somewhere. But employers have a responsibility to ensure that any truck drivers on the road under their corporate banner are competent and safe drivers. Inexperienced drivers may need to be accompanied by a supervisor until they have gained some experience on the roads.
As well as researching truck accidents in general, you should also thoroughly investigate any attorneys you are considering hiring. Once you have a shortlist of potential options, you can immediately begin digging deeper into the background of each and assessing their suitability.
Do They Offer A Free Consultation?
Before you hire an attorney, you want to be sure that they are right for you and your case. The best way of making this assessment is to sit down with them and discuss exactly what you need. Most attorneys will be happy to offer you a free consultation. This consultation session is a chance for you and the attorney to discuss your case and make sure you are suitable for one another. If your case is without merit or will be difficult to argue, this session is an opportunity for you to find out before you sink time and money into a losing case.
This free consultation session is also a chance for you to ask any other questions you might have about how things will work going forward. If an attorney doesn’t offer a free consultation, you should proceed with caution.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or death at the hand of an 18-wheeler truck driver, you might be able to pursue the driver for compensation. A truck accident attorney will help you assess your case’s merits and guide you through filing your case with the court and arguing it in front of a judge if necessary. Choosing the right lawyer is essential. Stick to the advice above, and you should be able to easily hone in on the right option.