The Role of the Truck Accident Lawyer in Truck Accident Cases
Why You Need a Truck Accident Attorney
Critical evidence thats favorable to you can disappear quickly, so time is most certainly of the essence for a thorough investigation of your accident. Your truck accident attorney will be the key point man or woman in making sure that the necessary evidence is collected in a timely fashion to support your case.
By the time you hire a lawyer in a truck accident case, you are already at somewhat of a disadvantage. The motor carrier and its insurer will have an adjuster, and possibly a collision reconstruction expert, on the scene within hours of the crash, especially if there has been a fatality or serious injury. The truck companys defense attorneys also get a steady stream of truck litigation and have lots of experience with this type of work. Its important that you have experienced counsel as well; someone who understands the special issues relevant to truck cases.
Evaluating Your Case
Before an attorney takes your case, she or he will need to decide if its a good case. You may have a claim if the truck driver or the owner of the truck was at least partially responsible for the accident. Your lawyer will have to decide if the amount of damages in your case are large enough to justify the time it will take to prepare your case and the expenses the attorney will need to lay out in the process.
Preparing Your Case: Preserving Evidence
Upon agreeing to take your truck accident case, your lawyers job is to immediately send a certified letter to the motor carriers owner or president and possibly the driver, instructing them to preserve any information regarding the operation of the truck or the drivers driving record for the 3-month period prior to the crash.
Hiring One or More Experts
Your counsel will hire an expert, possibly more than one, to go with him or her to investigate the scene of the accident and then to inspect the vehicles involved. The experts your lawyer engages will be able to identify the essential evidence and help your attorney evaluate its relevance to and impact on the case. Your lawyer may even need to get a temporary restraining order to protect the vehicles, their contents, and all important documents, including the drivers log books, which are typically disposed of after 6 months.
The experts investigation will include photographing and/or videotaping the scene, noting the presence of tire marks, debris, marks on trees, signs, buildings, etc., documenting interior and exterior damage to the tractor, the trailer(s), the car(s), guardrails, the roadway, and any other property. The expert will also document physical features of the road and any obstructions.
Your attorney will speak to witnesses, interview the investigating police officer, and obtain a copy of the police report. Much of what your lawyer will do has to do with collecting documentation from the trucking company regarding: the driver, (logs, personnel file, driver qualification information, drug test results), the truck and the trailer, (safety, maintenance and repair records, load information, satellite and communication data), the companys safety records, etc.
Later on in the litigation your lawyer will conduct depositions of the driver, possibly the truck company owner, any witnesses, and any others who may have knowledge or information favorable to your case.
Be certain your attorney has handled many truck accident cases. If a lawyer is inexperienced in this area of the law, find another one who has this experience. The success of your case depends a lot on the skill of your attorney.