Truck Trouble: 8 Questions to Ask Your Truck Accident Lawyer in CT
Would it surprise you to learn that 15 Connecticut pedestrians have been killed in motor vehicle accidents since Jan. 1, 2020? Unfortunately, it’s true.
Pedestrian deaths have been rising over the past few years. Of course, those are not the only type of deadly accident. Collisions with 18 wheelers are another prevalent cause of fatalities in our state, and around the nation.
If you’ve been involved in an accident involving a semi-truck, it is a smart idea to retain the services of a truck accident lawyer. While this area of law falls under the general umbrella of personal injury law, it’s important to find an attorney who specializes in truck accidents. They can be more complicated than other types of crashes. Here are a few questions you should ask when shopping around for legal assistance.
1. How Many Truck Accident Cases Have You Worked On?
If the answer here is “none,” or “a few,” or if the attorney dodges the question, that’s your signal to keep looking. Sure, everyone has to start somewhere, but in large law firms, it is typical for junior attorneys to work on cases alongside their more experienced counterparts. By the time they have worked their way up the ladder to being the lead attorney on a case, they should have substantial experience with truck accident lawsuits.
2. Who Will I Be Working With?
It’s not likely that only one truck accident attorney will be working your case. Rather, there will probably be an entire legal team working together, each member handling a different aspect. Although you may meet with the firm’s partners, you might not have a lot of contact with them going forward.
Some of the people who will be working closely with you until your case is resolved might be paralegals, legal secretaries, legal researchers, and junior lawyers. You have every right to meet those folks before signing on with that law firm. Having a rapport with these professionals will make the entire experience much smoother.
3. Are You Prepared to Go to Trial?
The vast majority of personal injury cases will never be presented before a judge, let alone a jury. That’s because it’s beneficial for everyone involved to settle out of court. Trials are expensive and take a long time, so lawyers do their level best to avoid them.
That said, if your case does become one of the estimated 5% that eventually go to trial, you will want your attorney to fight for you. Feel free to ask about the attorney’s trial experience.
4. What Do You Think of My Case?
Come to the first consultation prepared with all of the documentation associated with your accident: police reports, medical records, pictures and video of the accident scene, and contact information for any witnesses. The attorney will ask you to describe the crash. Don’t leave anything out.
Naturally, a lawyer won’t take a case that he or she doesn’t think is winnable. That’s not only because they don’t want to tarnish their record. They have a financial stake in the success of your lawsuit, as you will see.
5. Do You Work on Contingency?
Almost invariably, the answer here will be yes. Unlike attorneys who are paid by the hour or kept on a retainer, personal injury lawyers take cases on a contingency basis. That means they don’t get paid until — and unless — your case is settled satisfactorily or won in court.
There are two distinct advantages here. One is that you don’t have to worry about paying anything upfront. The second is that your attorney is guaranteed to fight hard to make you whole. After all, the larger the settlement, the higher their fee.
6. What Percentage Fee Do You Take?
Industry standard for accident attorney fees ranges from 33% to 40% of the final settlement amount or judgment. However, there is some wiggle room in the form of a sliding scale fee agreement. Lawyers may charge you a lower percentage if your case is resolved in relatively early stages. If a settlement is achieved after you have filed a lawsuit, their fee will be higher.
At each step of the negotiation process, you will have to weigh the pros and cons of continuing to seek greater damages. Keep an eye on the attorney’s fees and how they might be multiplying as the case progresses.
As with any job, the more work is involved, the more costly the service becomes.
7. What Costs and Expenses Should I Expect?
There are no two ways about it: legal aid can get expensive, and not just because of the lawyer’s fee. There are many expenses that will crop up during this time, such as postage, filing fees, transcripts, expert witnesses, investigators, depositions, trial exhibits, etc.
You won’t be asked to pay the costs for those upfront, though. The law firm will assume them as they occur. Please note, however, that they will be deducted from your share of the settlement.
8. How Long Will It All Take?
This is a question that accident victims understandably want the answer to, but it is very difficult to estimate a time frame. It depends on how complicated or straightforward your accident was, who the plaintiff(s) will be, whether you are amenable to their settlement offers or stick it out through a trial, and the existing backlog in your jurisdiction’s courts.
A good idea to help you manage your expectations is to overestimate the amount of time it will take to settle your case or try it in court. It might be several years before all is said and done. So go ahead and ask your attorney, but don’t be surprised if they give you a broad range of figures.
Get Help from a Truck Accident Lawyer
If you are bringing legal action against a trucking company, you will need the services of a truck accident lawyer. These cases are simply too complicated for you to go it alone. Asking your attorney plenty of questions is a good way to kick off your professional relationship — and to get you one step closer to being made whole again.