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How to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer

April 3, 2019 |

The odds are that most Wisconsin residents will, unfortunately, be involved in a car accident at some point in their driving careers. In many cases, motor vehicle collisions do not result in serious injuries. However, when a large truck is involved, the resulting property damage and injuries are usually much more serious. One of the best decisions you can make in the aftermath of a truck accident is to hire an experienced Milwaukee truck accident attorney to represent your interests.

Do You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?

Many victims of Wisconsin truck accidents may choose to forgo hiring an attorney and attempt to handle their claims on their own. However, trying to obtain fair compensation without an attorney on your side can be challenging and is unlikely to yield successful results. Retaining an experienced truck accident lawyer can yield numerous benefits for your claim, increasing your chances of receiving a successful settlement.

  • Following a truck accident, valuable evidence may be lost if the proper steps are not taken quickly to preserve that evidence. For example, trucks are equipped with event data recorders (EDRs) that record critical information, such as vehicle speed, engine RPMs, engine load, cruise control activation, clutch application, brake application, and other important information prior to and after a significant deceleration.  It is critically important that steps are taken immediately following a crash to attempt to download this information before the data is lost.
  • One of the biggest considerations in a truck accident case is determining who is liable for your injuries. In these cases, multiple parties can be liable – the driver, the employer, and/or the manufacturer of the commercial vehicle. Your attorney can investigate who is liable and help craft a compelling case in your favor. In some cases, an accident reconstruction will need to be done in order to attempt to determine the cause of a crash where a dispute arises.
  • Commercial motor vehicles are heavily regulated under both Wisconsin and federal law. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), for example, limit the hours a truck driver may drive before taking a break, and also require periodic inspections of the truck by a qualified truck inspection company, as well as pre-trip inspections by the truck driver.  When a truck collision occurs, you will need to identify if the truck accident involved any violation of trucking regulations or laws. You may not be familiar with these regulations and requirements – but your experienced truck accident attorney will be. An experienced Wisconsin truck accident attorney will have the legal background and knowledge necessary to prove liability and help you receive your damages.
  • Negotiating with insurance companies without an attorney may result in a lower settlement offer for you. Insurance companies are concerned about paying out the least amount possible on a claim, not making you a fair settlement offer. An experienced law firm with a track record of successfully handling truck accident cases will greatly increase your chances of receiving a fair offer.

When Should You Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?

You should not wait to hire a Wisconsin truck accident attorney hoping that the trucking company’s insurer will be fair in dealing with you.  Many trucking companies have self-insured retention (SIR) amounts under their insurance policies, meaning that they have to pay the first amounts toward any settlement before their insurers will begin to pay.  In these cases, the chances of obtaining a fair settlement offer on your own decreases.  Waiting several months to find out that the trucking company or its insurer are not being fair before hiring an attorney may result in the loss of crucial evidence in the meantime.

What Qualities Should Your Truck Accident Lawyer Have?

Many lawyers claim that they handle truck accident cases.  But not all lawyers have the necessary experience, knowledge, and established track record of successfully handling these cases.  When selecting the right truck accident attorney to represent you following a trucking accident, make sure that he or she has the following qualities:

  • Your attorney should have experience litigating truck accident cases. Truck accidents are very different from regular car accidents, and you need someone who knows the laws, regulations, and liability questions that may come into play. Research what success the attorney or law firm has in handling truck accident cases.  If a law firm does not have any successful trucking accident results published on its website, that is usually a red flag that the law firm does not have the necessary experience to successfully handle your claim.  You should not trust your trucking accident claim to just any attorney or law firm.
  • Your attorney should have the resources necessary to investigate your truck accident claim. Among other things, he or she will need to conduct a thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances of the crash, take steps to preserve and obtain crucial evidence before it is destroyed or lost, obtain documentation from the truck company (including its driver’s qualifications file, hours of service logs, and inspection and maintenance records), interview eyewitnesses, and retain qualified experts. Your attorney and his or her firm should have the financial and personnel resources to conduct these investigations without impacting your claim.
  • You should hire an attorney or law firm where an attorney will be involved in your case from day one. You should avoid hiring an attorney or law firm where an attorney is not involved, and, instead, you are dealing either with a legal assistant or paralegal with no lawyer involvement.  Do not assume that if you are hiring an attorney or law firm, your case will be handled from the very beginning by an attorney.  Some law firms are set up in such a way that an attorney does not become involved until it is time to attempt to settle your claim.

If you’ve been in a semi-truck accident, contact the expert injury lawyers at Cannon & Dunphy, S.C. for more information.


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