Tractor-trailer accidents happen every day. Over 4,000 people are killed annually in accidents involving big trucks – roughly one out of every 10 traffic deaths in the U.S. Due to the danger posed by large trucks on our roads and highways, there are strict regulations governing the industry – but that doesn’t prevent tragedy from happening.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a collision with a large truck, you may be wondering what to do next. There may be medical bills that need to be paid, lost wages that need to be recovered, or pain and suffering and emotional trauma that has to be dealt with on a daily basis. Your main concern after a truck collision is to take care of your family’s health, but a close second is taking care of yourself financially so that this accident doesn’t further affect your life.
That is why people hire tractor-trailer accident lawyers: to protect their rights while pursuing compensation for pain, suffering, injuries, and an inability to work. But finding the right attorney can be problematic, given how many of us there are out there (and there are many).
Here are tips for hiring tractor-trailer accident lawyers in your area who can help you with your case.
Be Wary of Quick Settlements
The urge right after an accident is to take whatever settlement the insurance company behind the truck driver gives you. After all, you will probably have medical bills that will need to be paid, and you may even be out of work for an extended period of time – or, worse, you could be disabled and not able to work at all.
The temptation is certainly there, but taking the first settlement you get – or settling at all – may not be in your best interest.
Thus, be wary of attorneys who tend to encourage their clients to take quick settlements. You have probably seen advertisements on TV and while driving on the roads emphasizing “getting money fast” or something to that effect. True, by taking a quick settlement with an insurance company or with the trucking company, you are ensuring that you will get something for your case relatively quickly, but that can seriously limit the compensation you may deserve for your case.
Settling without a fight, in many cases, lets the other side off the hook. There has to be a really good reason to settle and settle rapidly. It should not be a default course of action.
Choose an Attorney with a Proven Record in Court
Each tractor-trailer accident case is different, and each case has its own value. Sometimes, it is in the plaintiff’s best interest to settle. But often, a plaintiff – like you – can receive more compensation for the ordeal by taking the other side to court and winning a decisive verdict.
I strongly recommend finding a truck accident lawyer who is not afraid to go to court, and who has a track record of taking defendants to court and winning. After all, you may deserve maximum compensation, and the other side will do everything it can to not give it to you. Challenging and overcoming them in a trial may be the only way to justly compensate you for your injuries.
One of my colleagues, Matt Minner in our Kentucky office, recently helped win a $1.55 million result for his client who was injured in a collision with an 18-wheeler on the interstate. That result was won only after vigorous litigation that was contested by the other side. Taking this particular defendant to court was determined to be the best course of action – and as a result, the victim received the compensation he deserved.
Taking your case to court instead of settling is, at times, the best thing to do. You should find an attorney who is not afraid to go to court – and fight to win your case.
Don’t Pay for a Consultation – Or Pay At All Unless You Win
Finally, you should only work with attorneys who offer free consultations and operate on contingency – meaning they only get paid if they win your case.
First, you should not have to pay just to get advice from an attorney. A lawyer should be willing to talk with you about your case and help you determine if your case has merit – i.e. how much your case is worth and how likely are you to achieve a favorable result.
During this consultation, the attorney will go over the details of your case, from start to finish, and listen to you as you share about your injuries, your financial situation, your work situation, and any other factor that may play a role in your case. Then, depending on the circumstances and the attorney’s abilities, he or she will recommend a course of action that could include taking your case or referring you to an attorney who may be a better fit.
Second, you should not pay any fees up front. A truck accident lawyer should only be paid if he or she wins for you – otherwise, what are you paying for? You are probably already paying out of pocket as a result of your accident; paying up front for an attorney without any results to show for it is not something you should do.
Free consultations and contingency fees: these are two factors that should determine who you choose to represent you.
Hiring tractor-trailer accident lawyers can be stressful, because it is hard to know who to trust and who has your best interests at heart. Follow the above advice to help you narrow down your options and go with a lawyer who truly cares – and will do whatever it takes to help you receive the compensation you deserve.