A truck accident can send injured crash victims reeling. Injuries land them in the hospital; they miss work and school while recuperating, and often face the prospect of living with disabilities that place severe limitations on their lives and livelihoods; they suffer from physical, emotional, and financial pain; their lives get worse, and their relationships buckle.
During this turmoil and uncertainty, many truck accident victims do not give much thought to hiring an attorney. They have enough on their plates already. They sometimes fear (incorrectly, but understandably) that they cannot afford a lawyer. Even those who know they should get a lawyer to help them do not necessarily know when to reach out to one.
In this blog post, we review the considerations involved in deciding when is the best moment to hire a truck accident attorney after getting injured in a truck accident.
Lawyers Will Tell You: “Now!”
Ask any lawyer when is the best time to hire counsel, and 999 times out of 1,000 you will hear the same, reflexive answer: “Right now is the best time to hire a lawyer. Better yet, now is the best time to hire me.”
A cynic would argue: Of course that is what a lawyer is going to say. Representing clients is what lawyers do for a living. They want the business, and what better time is there to lock-in a new customer than right now?
However, lawyers have a good reason—beyond their own business interests—to tell you to hire a lawyer right now. Years of experience has taught them that the earlier they can get started working on a client’s behalf, the better the odds of obtaining a favorable outcome in the client’s case. More than any other commodity, having time to spend gives lawyers and their clients an advantage.
Our More-Detailed Answer: “Now, and Here’s Why…”
Time is especially precious for lawyers who represent truck accident victims. For these attorneys and their clients, losing time can literally mean losing money. To understand why, it helps to appreciate what makes truck accident cases different from run-of-the-mill motor vehicle accident claims, and why time can be the lawyer’s most precious resource in a truck accident case.
The Time-Consuming Complications of a Truck Crash Case
Picture the truck accidents you have seen reported on the news, and what comes to mind? An overturned truck trailer lying across the road at an obscene angle. Debris scattered over hundreds of yards of highway. Multiple damaged vehicles. Medevac helicopters. Tow trucks sporting heavy cranes. First responders prying open vehicles with the jaws-of-life. In short, a chaotic, horrific mess.
For lawyers, that chaos and complications do not go away after clean-up crews reopen the road. The widespread, often tragic, damage done by a truck accident on the highway frequently translates into a highly complex, and sometimes highly contentious, legal fight over who has legal liability for the crash, and how much money the victims should receive. Lawyers for those victims benefit from, and often downright need, as much time as possible to obtain the best available outcome for their clients.
Sorting out Legal Liability
Far more so than other types of motor vehicle accidents, truck crashes pose a challenge for lawyers when it comes to figuring out who owes compensation to injured crash victims. The basic reason for this is that truck crashes virtually always involve multiple parties with a legal and financial stake in the truck that crashes, and in any damage the crash causes to others.
By and large, most trucks are commercial vehicles used by businesses to transport goods for themselves or as a service for others. A typical big rig truck you encounter on a Florida highway can involve several individuals and corporations with legal and financial interests in it or its cargo. Each of these parties could, in theory, have a legal liability to victims for causing the crash.
- A trucker may have legal liability for making a mistake behind the wheel that causes an accident;
- A trucker’s employer may have legal responsibility for the trucker’s actions;
- A truck’s owner or trucking company can have legal liability for actions that contributed to causing a crash, such as failing to maintain a truck in safe working condition. Note, too, that tractor trucks and the trailers they pull often have different owners;
- The owner of cargo can have legal liability for loading that cargo into the truck incorrectly;
- A trucking industry contractor, like a garage or a trans-shipment warehouse operator, can have liability for a crash if the services they provided contributed to a crash; and
- A truck or truck part manufacturer can have liability if a crash happens because a defective part in the truck caused a dangerous mechanical breakdown.
And that’s just legal and financial interests in the truck. Other individuals and entities can have similar interests in other vehicles involved in a truck crash, or in the area where the crash occurred. All of those parties—from other motorists to government road agencies—could also face legal liability for a crash.
Plus, many, if not most, of these potentially-liable parties will carry insurance that may (or may not) cover the specific actions and damages featured in the crash. Those insurance companies inevitably get involved in the argument over who has a legal and financial liability to the crash victims.
All of which is to say, a lawyer for a truck accident victim has no time to spare if the lawyer wants to get to the bottom of exactly who has a legal liability to a client.
Jockeying for Compensation
Not only do truck accidents feature multiple parties with potential legal liability, they also frequently involve multiple victims. In the aftermath of a crash, every victim usually wants compensation. Every individual, corporation, and/or government entity with potential liability usually wants to avoid being the one to pay that compensation.
It is not difficult to guess what happens. Parties with potential liability start pointing fingers at each other (and sometimes at the victims), and the victims start lining up to demand compensation from the liable parties most able to foot the bill for damages.
In many truck crash cases, it pays, literally, for victims to be first in line demanding compensation. Victims at the back of the line may find themselves fighting over a shrinking pile of money. Victims who wait too long to get in line might lose their rights to compensation altogether. This can happen, for example, if the statute of limitations runs out before they seek a lawyer’s help, or if they do not file a claim against a liable party that seeks protection in bankruptcy court.
In other words, truck crash victims who obtain experienced legal representation right away give themselves, and their attorney, the broadest range of legal and financial options. Their lawyers have the time they need to investigate and target the parties with legal liability who have the ability to pay damages, and to negotiate the most favorable outcome possible (preferably before lawyers for other parties start demanding their piece of the pie).
What a Lawyer Can Do for a Truck Accident Victim Now
If there is one message we hope you have received thus far in reading this blog, it is that every day that passes after a truck accident without a lawyer on your side is one less day you have to protect and enforce your legal rights. However, no matter how many days have passed since the truck crash that injured you or a love done, it is never too late to have a free case consultation with an experienced Florida truck accident injury lawyer. Talking to a lawyer (for free) is always worth your time, and having that conversation today is always better than waiting until tomorrow.
What a lawyer can do for you, specifically, obviously depends entirely on the facts and circumstances of your particular situation. No two truck accident injury matters are exactly alike. Experienced truck accident injury lawyers tailor the advice and services they provide to meet a client’s specific needs, priorities, and legal options.
As a general matter, however, once a victim hires an experienced truck accident injury lawyer to seek compensation on the victim’s behalf, that lawyer can often get to work in any of the following ways.
- The lawyer can investigate as thoroughly as the time available allows to identify parties with legal liability, to narrow down which of those parties has the ability to pay damages (either through insurance or out-of-pocket), and to determine the full amount of damages the client has the legal right to receive as compensation for injuries and losses.
- The lawyer can develop a legal strategy designed to obtain maximum compensation for the victim as quickly and efficiently as possible from the liable parties most able to pay at that moment.
- The lawyer can pursue legal action to obtain that compensation, which often involves lodging a formal and/or informal demand for compensation with the party or in court;
- The lawyer can negotiate with legal representatives of the liable party and/or its insurance carrier to achieve a fair and reasonable settlement of the truck accident victim’s legal claim for damages, if possible; and
- The lawyer can litigate the victim’s case in court, and if necessary take the case all the way to a trial, if that is what is needed to obtain a full and fair amount of compensation for the client’s injuries and losses.
The more time a victim gives an experienced truck accident injury lawyer to perform these services, the more of them the lawyer may have time to do, the better the job the lawyer can do, and the higher the chances of the lawyer securing a favorable outcome for the victim.
Truck Accident Victims Do Not Pay Their Lawyers by the Hour
Truck accident victims often have the misconception that hiring a lawyer now will cost them money now. When they hear a lawyer say “Hire me now,” they interpret it as the lawyer saying “I want to start billing you by the hour now!”
We understand where that impression comes from. Many types of lawyers do charge their clients an hourly fee for their services. Not truck accident lawyers, however.
Virtually all lawyers who represent Florida truck accident victims do so on a contingency fee basis. The clients pay no attorney fees upfront, and the lawyers do not bill the clients by the hour. Instead, at the beginning of representation, the lawyer and client agree on a percentage of any money the lawyer obtains for the client that the lawyer will keep as a fee. The lawyer’s fee, in other words, is contingent on whether the lawyer delivers results.
The lawyer and client in a contingent fee arrangement have the same interests. If the client gets nothing, the lawyer gets nothing; but if the lawyer secures compensation for the client, the lawyer gets rewarded. By agreeing to these arrangements, lawyers align their goals with their clients’, and clients get access to top-notch legal representation without having to pay out-of-pocket as they go.
In other words, if you worry that giving your lawyer more time will just mean giving your lawyer the chance to charge you more money, don’t. Truck accident victims cost themselves money by not having a lawyer on their side. Giving a personal injury lawyer as much time as possible to represent you in a truck accident injury case tends to get you more money, not less. Contact Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney’s today to get the compensation you deserve.
Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Orlando, FL 32814