Truck accident cases can be pretty complex. Read the information below and you'll understand exactly how they work:
We usually start our "how the law works" articles with some semblance of a thought-provoking intro designed to challenge the way you think about the law by providing a new perspective. For this article, there is a lot to cover and a lot that you need to be forewarned about, so we're instead going to err on the side of being frank.
In that vein, here's what you need to know:
- Truck accident cases don't work the way you probably think they do
- Most lawyers that advertise for these kinds of cases have no clue how to handle them correctly
- The difference between a valuable case and a worthless case are the decisions you make in the early stages of your case.
As such, in this article, we're going to explain truck accident law in less of an academic fashion and more like the warning sticker on the side of your lawnmower. Just the same way that the company who made your lawn mower doesn't want you to lose a finger, we don't want you to do irreparable damage to your case.
Despite the fact that this article is very much so a cautionary tale, we will still explain everything you need to know about truck accident law in plain English, from start to finish, including information about:
- When you can and can't sue trucking companies
- What type of compensation you can receive
- Legal strategy (what makes your case a winner or loser)
- The laws that govern truck accident cases
- A walk-through of the lawsuit process
- Hypothetical accident scenarios and what the law has to say about each
- Fatal accidents - how they are different from injury cases
- What happens when the truck driver is injured
Additionally, it should be noted that we'll use the phrase "truck accident" numerous times herein, so, first things first, understand that the info on this page applies to:
- flatbed trucks
- dump trucks
- any other heavyweight commercial vehicles
If it's big enough (or heavy enough) that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration takes notice, it's included in this article, and it's important to note that the law treats it (and the accidents it causes) differently than regular cars.
But before we delve into the pulp of this article, we must offer a disclaimer and/or warning:
Truck accident cases are probably the least understood area of personal injury law. Unfortunately, the main source of the confusion is lesser-experienced injury lawyers. They often put out false information on the web, and far too many of these lawyers get involved in truck accident cases and never realize how little they know, or they realize it only after the damage to their client's case is done.
Why do we tell you this? Well, with nearly any other area of personal injury law, your case is usually salvageable, even if you or an inexperienced attorney make some missteps early on. But with truck accident cases, once the damage is done, you will likely never be able to recover. And since hiring the right lawyer to help you with your truck accident case is the first big hurdle that you'll encounter, we would be remiss to not talk about the conduct of some unscrupulous attorneys and how you can save yourself a bunch of trouble by knowing what to look for.
Have you ever noticed that nearly every law firm out there advertises the fact that they take truck accident cases? If you think about it, that's a bit peculiar because:
- There aren't very many truck accident cases to begin with. Car accident cases are far more common.
- Statistically speaking, most truck accident cases are not the fault of the truck driver, so by definition most truck accidents don't precipitate a case that a lawyer can can even do anything with.
- Truck accident cases require approximately 5 times the manpower and financial resources as car accident cases. Most law firms who exclusively handle fender-bender car accidents (and lots of them) are just not cut out to handle the detail-oriented, painstaking work that truck accident cases demand.
So why, then, are all of these law firms advertising for your truck accident case? The simple answer is that truck accident cases can be lucrative for a law firm - the key word being "can."
But beyond the money aspect, lawyers like being able to save the day for their clients. It's a great feeling. The sad reality in non-trucking cases is that most defendants who cause major injuries will never have enough financial resources to fully pay for the mistakes they make, which is as disheartening to a lawyer as it is to his client. But trucking companies are a class of defendants who typically do have the resources to pay for the harm they cause.
For all the right and noble reasons, that is an enticing concept to lawyers, yet it can also be perverted, and far too many lawyers think to themselves, "Even though I don't exactly know what I'm doing, I can still settle the case for 20 cents on the dollar and make a good fee." This practice is as ugly as it is unfair to you, the injured plaintiff. They're essentially giving up your potential compensation just because it's easier to settle for less.
In order to avoid this, you need to find the right lawyer; one who wants your truck accident cases not just because he can make legal fees but because he is driven by the idea that your case is a chance to do what he does best against a tough opponent. And you may be thinking, "This is the part where you tell me about why I should hire Grossman Law Offices," but you'd be mistaken. Yes, our firm is very passionate about helping truck accident victims, and we'd welcome an opportunity to help you - nobody is arguing that.
But the primary focus of this diatribe is to encourage you to find experienced legal counsel, whoever that may be. If we didn't have to be concerned about defamation lawsuits, we'd make a list of lawyers who we know for sure that you should avoid. But since that's not really an option, the next best thing a checklist that you can use to make sure that you've found a lawyer who is amply qualified. A good truck accident lawyer should:
- Have handled at least major 15 truck accident cases and be able to prove that he has
- Be able to explain to your satisfaction exactly how your case will work, what the known and unknown elements of the case are, what the best and worst case scenario may be, and you should notice him frequently using phrases such as, "Good question. I had a case where that happened before, and here's what we did..."
- Make himself available to you from the beginning. If he doesn't give you his cell phone number, that's a bad sign. Truck accident cases are long, hard-fought battles, and your lawyer will need to communicate with you throughout the process.
Truck accident cases are far from a walk in the park, so do not let a lawyer with anything less than a few dozen similar cases under their belt (we have won more than 100, for example) represent you in a truck accident case, or you'll pay the price.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way...