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Getting Legal Representation After a Truck Accident in Texas

In Texas, individuals involved in a truck accident – whether as the injured or defending party may need a truck accident lawyer, especially one with extensive knowledge of personal injury laws and experience in truck accident cases. Truck accident cases may involve an interplay of multiple complex factors that are best navigated or unpacked with the help of a truck accident lawyer. Matters such as determining economic and non-economic damages, establishing the cause of the accident and liable parties, negotiating compensation, filing a case, or defending claims, are all crucial matters that require adequate planning, strategy, and customized legal representation.

Do I Really Need a Lawyer if I Was Hit by an 18-wheeler or Commercial Vehicle?

Road accidents involving an 18-wheeler or commercial vehicle can lead to property damages, injuries, and death and involved persons may need an experienced personal injury lawyer to settle the case out of, or in court. In some cases where damages and injuries are minimal, victims of truck accidents may not need an 18-wheeler accident lawyer if the damages are covered by the insurance settlement.

However, this is not often the case as there are usually significant property damages, injuries, and fatalities involved in truck accidents. Moreover, insurance companies typically offer lowball settlements that do not cover all economic and non-economic damages. Hence, victims of commercial vehicle accidents will most likely need a lawyer to get full and fair compensation, as well as level the playing field against the trucking company’s legal team and aggressive damage control strategies.

Additionally, an 18-wheeler accident attorney may be necessary if the crash involves multiple liable parties and multiple vehicles. A fatal accident lawyer is also most competent to handle cases of truck accidents or collisions that resulted in fatalities.

What does a Truck Accident Lawyer do?

A truck accident lawyer is a legal representative who has extensive knowledge of personal injury and laws with experience in settling truck accident cases. This lawyer actively seeks to get full and fair compensation for the affected clients and does this by investigating the crash, determining the liable parties, calculating damages, negotiating a settlement, and filing a court case if an out-of-court settlement proves unsuccessful.

However, a truck accident lawyer may face some issues when filing or defending a truck accident case, and this is usually due to the actions taken by the client immediately after the accident. A truck accident lawyer needs time to investigate the event and gather information and vital evidence like witness statements and trip recorders from the truck involved in the accident. Therefore, the more time elapses, the harder it will be for the lawyer to prove claims or defend clients since the trucking company can destroy evidence and data from the crash scene, or witnesses may be harder to find.

Additionally, the claimant in a truck accident case can also be accused (by the truck driver or trucking company) of causing the accident in an attempt to reduce or avoid liability. The role of the personal injury lawyer is to assist the claimants to establish negligence or determine the liable parties and file an accident lawsuit. In the case of proportionate responsibility, where the claimant and defendant share liability for the accident, the lawyer shall help determine the percentage of responsibility for each party and still get a portion of the damages.

When looking for a truck accident lawyer or law firm, consider the following:

  • Firm size and available resources like in-house investigators, experts, and time when compared to lawyers' workload.
  • The law firm’s focus. Some firms are general practice firms, while some focus on specific laws or cases like fatal accidents or auto accidents
  • Years of experience with personal injury cases, especially the specific lawyer’s experience with truck accident cases
  • Number of similar cases previously settled or won in court
  • Local knowledge of the area and the court system
  • Relationship with other judges and lawyers in the area
  • Recommendations, client reviews, awards, and recognition
  • Effective and proper communication which can be determined from reviews, consultations, or interviews
  • Payment structure i.e. contingency fees, upfront payment, etc.

How to Build a Compelling Case in a Truck Accident Suit

Regardless of the case size, the strength of a truck accident suit is determined by the lawyer’s or legal team’s skills, strategy, and how compelling the evidence is. The role of a personal injury lawyer in a truck accident suit is more than calculating all damages suffered and just supporting claims with evidence. It also involves conducting a thorough investigation, gathering compelling evidence, solid negotiation, and eloquent arguments.

How the Lawyer Determines Who is Liable and Who to File a Suit Against

A truck accident lawyer determines who is liable by gathering as much information as possible to get the complete picture of the event. This is possible with a detailed investigation of all parties directly or indirectly involved in the accident, such as the:

  • Truck driver: May have been negligent by violating traffic or trucking laws which lead to the accident.
  • Other drivers: May cause the accident if traffic violations or reckless actions partly or completely lead to the truck accident and all its damages.
  • Truck manufacturer: May be held liable if the accident is due to a defective part from the company.
  • Mechanic, repair, or maintenance shop: Can be held liable if faulty repairs led to the truck accident.
  • Trucking company: Can be liable if they failed to give the driver training, failed to maintain the truck, encouraged reckless actions, or kept the allowed the driver to work despite not meeting health standards.
  • Shipping company: If the truck accident was caused by the shipping company overloading the truck.
  • Government: Can be held liable as per state law if the truck accident was caused by a government employee or as a result of government negligence like bad roads. However, filing a claim against the government is more complex.
  • Other third parties like construction companies if the crash was a result of negligent acts by construction workers like poorly marked construction zones.

Examples of important data that can help paint the full picture include:

  • Trip recorders from the truck
  • Trucker’s activity log
  • Traffic cameras
  • Black box data
  • Trucking company records
  • Police report
  • Witness statement
  • Medical reports
  • Accident scene photos
  • Commercial driver records like medical certificates
  • Shipping documents or manifest
  • Weigh station records

It is possible to file a suit against multiple liable parties, and as long as there is evidence to establish liability and prove claims, claimants can receive compensation from all parties according to how liable each party was for the damages.

How do I Discuss Hidden Injuries With a Lawyer After a Truck Accident?

If you discover a hidden injury after a truck accident, you should contact a personal injury lawyer and discuss details surrounding the accident and how or when the hidden injury was discovered. Additionally, you should also mention if you have already agreed not to file a claim with the truck driver or mentioned any lack of injury with the insurance company, as well as details of any type of statements or settlements that have been made since the accident.

Unlike a broken bone, hidden injuries do not show symptoms immediately after a truck accident. No matter how minor the injury seems, persons involved in an accident are encouraged to carry out health checks to make sure there are no hidden or internal injuries and discuss results with a lawyer before settling with the insurance company. The following are examples of hidden injuries that one can get from a truck accident:

  • Internal bleeding or organ damage
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
  • Soft-tissue injuries like whiplash
  • Herniated discs
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Some of these injuries can be detected by tests like MRIs, X-rays, and CT scans. Providing the diagnosis and other information concerning these injuries to the lawyer will help calculate damages and prepare a better strategy against the aggressive damage control strategies of the trucking company.

How Much does it Cost to Hire an Attorney?

Most truck accident attorneys get paid on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee is a percentage of the compensation that will be the lawyer’s share as previously agreed upon by both parties. The rate varies across cases, but it is usually between 33% and 40% of the settlement.

However, some lawyers demand additional upfront payment from the claimant, especially when the case goes to court. All these factors should be discussed before hiring a truck accident lawyer to avoid disputes later.

Can I Hire a Truck Accident Attorney if I'm at Fault?

Persons who cause or share fault in truck accidents can hire a truck accident lawyer to defend them against charges. It is also possible for persons who are partly at fault in a truck accident case to receive compensation, although this may be reduced according to the proportionate responsibility or shared fault law.

Sometimes, parties liable for a truck accident may shift the blame to the driver. For instance, a trucking company may hold the driver responsible even if the company is responsible for making the driver work multiple shifts without a break (against FMCSA hours-of-service regulations) or encouraging risky practices to make more profit. So, if you are the truck driver at fault, there are ways to show that you're not entirely at fault, and there are also other factors that may have contributed to the truck accident like poor road design or natural elements like snow or rainstorms.

Road Design Factors in a Truck Accident

Like with other road accidents, poor road conditions can lead to a truck accident. Examples of poor road designs that can lead to an accident include inadequate lighting, impassable roads, lack of highway barriers between lanes, and lack of traffic control devices like traffic lights, signs, speed bumps, or markers. Poor road conditions are usually the government’s responsibility but filing a claim against a government entity is more complex, and recovering damages may prove difficult and exhausting.

Therefore, while poor road designs can be a useful defense in truck accident cases, persons who want to recover damages should consult with a personal injury lawyer experienced in filing claims against government agencies.

Do I Still Need a Lawyer if the Accident Was a Minor One?

You may need to contact a truck accident lawyer in the case of a minor accident. However, it is crucial to ascertain that the accident you have been involved in is indeed minor. According to Texas law, every accident that had someone sustain an injury, or/and caused damage of $1000 and above should be promptly reported to the authorities. Accidents without injuries or less than $1000 are usually considered minor accidents. However, a lawyer will be helpful in case repair expenses run-up to more than $1000 or end up with some sort of side effect from the accident and need to file a claim.

Note that you should not conclude that an accident is minor without conducting health checks for hidden injuries.

What if the Other Driver and I Agreed Not to File a Claim?

You may not need the services of a personal injury attorney if both parties have agreed not to file a claim. However, it is important to play safe by consulting an attorney who may need to draw up an agreement that explicitly states that both parties agreed not to file a claim. This protects you in case the driver decides to file a claim against you sometime in the future.

Additionally, if you agreed not to file a claim because of a lack of injury and later discover a hidden injury, you should consult with a truck accident lawyer and provide details of the verbal or written agreement, if any.

What if I Admitted Some Fault at the Scene of the Truck Accident?

A seemingly reasonable decision like admitting fault at the scene of the truck accident may have lasting disruptive effects on your insurance claim or your life in general. Thus, it is important to never admit fault at the scene of a truck accident. Some ways to prevent admitting fault at the scene include:

  1. Be truthful and objective in giving your report to the police
  2. Avoid giving out polite apologies
  3. Contact an experienced accident lawyer right away
  4. Do not meet with insurance companies’ representatives of both parties without the presence of your lawyer.

However, if you have admitted some fault, you should meet with an accident attorney as soon as possible for legal steps to take.

When is the Right Time to Meet an Attorney After a Trucking Accident?

It is ideal to meet with an attorney as soon as possible, after a trucking accident, especially when there are damages or/and injuries involved. An accident attorney will help in covering all the legal grounds concerning the trucking accident, answer all your legal questions, and begin the groundwork in filing claims where damages occurred.

It is paramount to engage a truck accident attorney as soon as possible after a truck accident. The attorney will help walk you through the legal processes needed and identify mistakes you might have made at or out of the accident scene. Also, contacting an attorney immediately after an accident might prevent you from making some mistakes. Here are the top common mistakes that people often make after an accident, and how a truck accident lawyer can help mitigate some of them.

  1. Leaving the scene without filing a police report: It is highly advisable to file a police report when involved in a truck accident because it gives more credibility and strengthens your claim in court. However, the lack of a police report does not take away your right to legal proceedings and claims. An accident attorney can still file claims without a police report. However, you can help the case by providing a detailed description of the event.
  2. Neglecting medical care: Seeking medical care after a truck accident is very important even when you “feel fine” after an accident. Medical care could serve as evidence as to the effect of the accident on your health.
  3. Making a statement with the insurance company concerning injuries without a medical check. This can be mitigated by a rebuttal backed up by strong evidence, such as witness statements, photos, and videos.
  4. Agreeing not to file a claim without accessing all damages. This may not be legally binding.
  5. Accepting the initial settlement from the insurance company and losing any chance to make any claims in the future.

If you or your loved one are involved in a truck accident, you can find a lawyer by simply conducting a google search for terms such as "truck accident lawyer near me", or "injury attorney near me". You can also find the contact information and case history of Texas' best truck accident attorneys through the state bar association website, or the lawyer referral services of professional bar associations in Texas. Examples of common professional associations and lawyer referral services in Texas include Houston Lawyer Referral Service, San Antonio Bar Association, Tarrant County Bar Association, among others.