Interviewing lawyers for a truck crash case? It’s complicated.
First, you should know that truck is just a faster way of saying commercial motor vehicle.
Truck crash cases are the result of crashes with semi-trucks, garbage trucks, flatbeds, heavy equipment—vehicles a driver needs a special license to operate. To find the best lawyer for your case, it helps to understand that distinction.
Can I talk to you about my (brother/mother/cousin/friend)’s truck crash case?
When you or someone was just in a bad car accident with a semi-truck*, it can help to have a clear-eyed friend or practical family member get some information.
We often talk to close relatives who are helping out, or just gathering information—but some lawyers won’t talk to anyone except the injured person. If you are calling on someone else’s behalf, ask this question first.
Of course, this only applies to the free consultation. When someone becomes our client, they are protected by attorney-client privilege.
Do you have experience with this type of case?
The broad category of the kind of lawyer you need is personal injury lawyer.
Within that category, look for a lawyer who has experience with truck crashes—specifically, in commercial motor vehicle law. There are many personal injury lawyers who can competently handle a straightforward crash case. For a truck crash case, you will need a lawyer who knows federal trucking law.
When you talk with a lawyer, ask if they have handled commercial truck crash cases before.
What are the first steps in a case like this?
The lawyer should be able to give you a step-by-step plan. It should include signing paperwork, and getting police reports and medical records.
Most importantly, they should talk about investigating the crash. The lawyers for the trucking company start their investigations right away—you will need to catch up to build a good case.
If the lawyer you are interviewing can’t explain the first steps, or can’t explain how to they plan to investigate the crash, that is a big red flag.
What is the statute of limitations in this case?
A statute of limitations is a law (statute) limiting the time an injured person has to file a lawsuit. When you are interviewing lawyers, ask about this time limit.
In Washington State, most personal injury claims must be filed within 3 years after the date of the incident. However, there are exceptions depending on the type of claim, or the age of the victim, or other factors.
And in some cases involving commercial motor vehicles, an injured person has a very limited amount of time to give notice of their intent to file a lawsuit.
How does your fee get paid, or do you work on a contingency fee?
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee. The law firm does not get paid until your case is over.
This means that lawyers have financial incentive to help you get the case done as successfully as possible. It also means that they incur the risks of litigation: if you aren’t successful in your claim, then they don’t get paid.
What can we expect in costs and expenses, and how do those get paid?
Expenses can vary a lot from case to case. Some lawyers will cover costs up front (like we do), and others want expenses paid throughout the case.
You should know that, while we can pay the court and litigation costs, an injured person will need to continue to pay their medical bills not covered by their insurance—even when the injuries were not their fault.
Ask how the law firm can help if it becomes difficult to pay medical bills during the case. For example, our law firm can work with the medical providers to assist our clients with paying bills.
For more information: What happens when there’s not car insurance to pay medical bills?
Are you the lawyer who would be directly handling the case?
In big corporate law firms, cases get moved around. Ask if you are talking to the actual lawyer who would work on the case.
Who would be the primary contact in your office?
Attorneys may be unavailable because of a trial or court proceeding. It is very useful to have a paralegal or legal assistant to talk with, in addition to the lawyer.
What other information do you need from us?
Don’t trust a lawyer who doesn’t ask you any questions.
A lawyer should ask you:
- Exactly when and where the crash happened;
- If you have a police report;
- What is your relationship to the injured or deceased person (if you’re calling on someone else’s behalf), and/or to the driver or owner of the car (if you were a passenger); and,
- If you have access to the other person’s insurance company information and policy numbers.
What happens next?
Even if you are calling on someone else’s behalf, you and the lawyer should agree on the next steps: who will be in contact next, and when?
Questions for a lawyer? Schedule a free consultation to discuss your truck crash case with attorney Kevin Coluccio.
* We believe drivers should take responsibility for their own actions. Nearly all of the truck crash cases we see are the very predictable result of bad driving choices—not inevitable, unforeseeable accidents. That is why we use crash or collision instead of accident whenever possible.