Large truck accidents have increased in the U.S. over the last few years. There were 117,300 accidents involving large trucks in 2021 alone. This represents an almost 50% increase over the last decade.
These accidents can have devastating consequences. Some result in severe injuries, property damage, and even death. If you or a loved one was involved in an accident with a truck, seeking legal advice is the most critical step you can take to protect your rights.
What does a truck accident lawyer do?
Truck accident lawyers are legal professionals who specialize in representing people who have been involved in accidents with large commercial trucks, such as semi trucks or box trucks. Their primary goal is to help you navigate the complex legal situation that often surrounds truck accidents. Here’s what you can expect your truck accident lawyer to do:
- Truck accident case investigation: One of the biggest responsibilities of a truck accident lawyer is to thoroughly investigate the accident. This involves gathering evidence, examining police reports, interviewing witnesses, and analyzing available footage.
- Evidence gathering: Commercial vehicle accident cases often require extensive evidence to establish fault and determine the extent of damages. A skilled truck accident lawyer will collect and analyze evidence, such as medical records, accident reports, and maintenance logs. This will help them determine negligence on the part of the truck driver, the company, or anyone else involved.
- Case preparation: Once the necessary evidence is collected, the attorney will review all the details and applicable laws and regulations and lay out their legal strategy
- Demand letters to insurance companies: Truck accident lawyers handle all communication with insurance companies on your behalf. They draft and send demand letters that outline any damages suffered, including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. These letters serve as a formal request for fair compensation and begin the negotiation process.
- Negotiations with insurance companies: Truck accident lawyers have extensive experience dealing with insurance adjusters and are skilled negotiators. They use their knowledge of personal injury laws to advocate for your best interests. The lawyer will review the insurance policy, assess your damages, and present a strong case to support the demand for fair compensation. They will counter offers if necessary, and negotiate for the best outcome.
- Preparing complaints: In some cases, insurance negotiations don’t go as planned. In these situations, your attorney will likely file a lawsuit, starting the formal legal process.
- Initiating discovery: During the litigation process, lawyers engage in a procedure called discovery. This involves gathering additional evidence, such as depositions, expert opinions, and documents. Discovery is a critical phase in building a solid case and preparing for trial.
- Representation in court: If the truck accident case goes to trial, the lawyer will provide your representation in court. You absolutely need an attorney for this process. Their courtroom experience and skills are invaluable in presenting a winning case.
Skills a truck accident lawyer must have
Being a successful truck accident lawyer requires a unique set of skills. They need a combination of legal expertise, investigative experience, negotiation skills, and courtroom representation abilities:
- In-depth knowledge of trucking laws and regulations: Your attorney needs a deep understanding of federal and state laws that govern the trucking industry. They need to be well-versed in regulations related to truck maintenance, driver qualifications, hours of service, and cargo loading. This knowledge allows them to identify violations and establish liability.
- Strong analytical and investigative skills: Truck accident cases often involve complex scenarios and multiple parties. A skilled lawyer must possess excellent analytical skills to evaluate the evidence, reconstruct the accident, and determine the contributing factors. They must also be able to conduct thorough investigations, collect relevant documents, and gather critical evidence.
- Exceptional negotiation skills: Negotiating with insurance companies is a crucial aspect of any case. A good lawyer should have strong negotiation skills to effectively advocate for their client’s rights. They must be persuasive, assertive, and capable of presenting a compelling argument.
- Effective communication skills: Clear and effective communication is essential for a lawyer to argue their clients’ cases. They must have exceptional oral and written communication skills to take complex legal concepts and present them in a way that’s easy to understand. They also need to be persuasive speakers who can passionately present their client’s case in court.
- Attention to detail: These cases require meticulous attention to detail. From examining medical records and accident reports to reviewing insurance policies and contracts, a truck accident lawyer must leave no stone unturned. They must be able to spot important details, find inconsistencies, and discover evidence that can impact the outcome of the case.
- Case management and organizational skills: Truck accident cases usually involve large amounts of documentation, deadlines, and procedures. Your lawyer should have excellent case management and organizational skills.
- Empathy and compassion: While not necessarily mandatory, your lawyer should be able to empathize with your situation. Truck accidents often result in devastating injuries and emotional trauma, and you want your attorney to understand the toll it’s taking on you. They should be empathetic listeners, providing support and guidance throughout the legal process.
Can I sue if a family member was killed or seriously injured in a truck accident?
If you’ve lost a family member or watched them suffer serious injuries in a truck accident, you might be wondering if you have a right to sue. The answer to this question depends on a few different factors, with determining liability being the most important.
More than one party can potentially be held liable in truck accident cases:
- The truck driver: If the accident occurred due to the negligence of the truck driver, such as driving while fatigued, distracted driving, or violating traffic laws, they may be held liable
- Trucking company: The trucking company can be held responsible if they failed to properly maintain the vehicle, hire qualified drivers, enforce safety protocols, or comply with regulations. If the driver was employed by the company at the time of the accident, they could also be liable under vicarious liability.
- Vehicle manufacturer: A truck defect such as faulty brakes, defective tires, or mechanical issues may cause an accident. In these cases, the manufacturer or distributor of the defective vehicle or parts may be held liable.
- Other third parties: Other parties — such as maintenance contractors, cargo loaders, or companies responsible for road maintenance — could share responsibility if they are proven to be negligent
To determine liability, your lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident, gathering evidence such as police reports, eyewitness testimony, accident analysis, and data from the truck’s black box. This helps create a clear picture of what happened and who is responsible.
If they’re able to establish liability, you may have the grounds to pursue a legal claim. Damages may include medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, lost income, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering.
How to choose a truck accident attorney in Colorado
When it comes to choosing a truck accident attorney in Colorado, it is crucial to find a legal professional with the knowledge, experience, and dedication to handle your case.
Truck accident cases involve unique factors, including federal and state regulations specific to the trucking industry. Look for an attorney who specializes in truck accident cases and has a deep understanding of everything involved. They should have a track record of successfully handling cases like this.
Take note of their communication skills and availability. Effective communication is essential throughout this process, but you also need an attorney who is responsive, attentive, and proactive. They should be reasonably accessible and able to address your questions and concerns promptly.
It’s important to find an attorney who has extensive courtroom experience. It’s rare that a truck accident case goes to trial, but if it does, you’ll want an attorney who can present a good case and advocate on your behalf.
Ask about your attorney’s fee structure and make sure it aligns with your expectations and financial ability. Some attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only receive payment if they successfully secure compensation for your accident. Clarify any potential fees or costs upfront to avoid any surprises later on.
Contact Colorado’s top truck accident attorney
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, contact Colorado’s top truck accident attorneys. At Bachus & Schanker Personal Injury Lawyers, we have extensive experience in these types of cases and a thorough understanding of trucking laws. Our skilled team will investigate your case, gather evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies so you don’t have to.
Bieber, C. (2022). What Is Vicarious Liability? Definition & Examples.
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Road Users: Large Trucks. (2023).