You were in an accident and are ready to hire a truck accident attorney. But where do you start? If you are considering hiring an attorney, it’s important to find the one that’s right for you. How do you do this? There are many factors to consider; how qualified is the attorney, what do they think about your case, and how comfortable do you feel with the attorney handling your case?
To get the best answers to these questions, you need to give the attorneys you are interviewing the right information to properly evaluate your case. This means bringing the right information to your consultation so they can review all the facts.
How to Find the Right Truck Accident Attorney for You
When it comes to choosing a personal injury attorney, there is no shortage of options. But it’s not usually a good idea to call the first number you see when you pass a billboard. Personal injury cases are complicated and can have a big impact on your recovery and your future. That’s why you should make a list of your top candidates and sit down and talk to each one before making a final decision. Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation, making the process easier.
Once you have a list of candidates, it’s a good idea to check each one out with the Florida State Bar to see how long they have been a lawyer and if they have any disciplinary history. You can also find personal reviews on sites like AVVO and Super Lawyers.
It’s also a good idea to make a list of qualities that are important to you. This information can help you narrow down your search. Details may include:
- Firm specialty
- Size of firm
- Geographic locale
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What to Bring to Your Initial Consultation
An initial consultation is your opportunity to get to know your potential attorney and get a better understanding of your case. While you may not end up hiring the first person you meet, it’s a good idea to be prepared. This can save you time down the road. But knowing that this first meeting is only a consultation, it’s a good idea to bring copies, or at minimum get back the copies you bring. Individual attorneys may request certain documents, but some of the things you should bring include:
When you file a personal injury suit you are filing a claim for damages against a corporation (the insurance company or trucking company) or an individual (the driver). Florida law requires drivers to exchange insurance information at the scene of the accident. While you will be filing a claim against the other party you will be using your own PIP benefits to pay for some of your medical bills.
Because of this, the attorney you hire will need your personal insurance information. This includes:
- The name of your carrier
- The name of the policyholder
- The policy number
- A contact number for your provider
The attorney will also need the other driver’s information. In addition to the information above, the attorney will need:
- The name of the other driver
- The other driver’s contact information
- The name of the trucking company
On top of your auto insurance, be prepared to provide any medical insurance you currently hold. You may be asked to present your personal medical insurance at some of your appointments. If your medical insurance pays out on a claim, your attorney can help coordinate repayment after the case.
How many vehicles were involved? How big was the truck? What kind of truck were you in an accident with? This is all important information. When you talk to an attorney, it’s important to have as much information as you can as you never know what can affect a case. For example, tanker drivers require a different certification than other drivers, while someone driving a box truck may not even require a commercial driver’s license. This can make a big difference in proving fault and establishing liability.
Information that will be helpful to your case includes:
- The type of truck
- The condition of the truck
- The number of occupants
- The license plate number
- Any other identifying information
If you have taken your vehicle in for repairs, bring in any receipts. This can help show the extent of the damage. Don’t forget to bring in receipts for any rental cars you used while your vehicle was being repaired.
Pictures and Other Evidence
Pictures are a good way to show what happened at the scene. If you took pictures, make sure to bring them to your initial consultation. This is one of the best ways for the attorney to understand the severity of the case. Alternatively, check with the lawyer’s office to see if you can email the pictures to the office so the attorney can review them before your meeting.
You should also bring a copy of the police report to your meeting. The report will have a lot of information important to your case, including the location of the accident and all parties involved. You can request a copy of the police report at your local police station, by mail, or online.
If there were any witnesses, bring their names and contact information. If you have talked to these witnesses, let the attorney know. It is also important to tell the attorney whether these witnesses were passersby or friends or relatives of you or the other driver. Some witnesses may not have actually witnessed the accident. If you have received any contact from the trucking company or any other party that may have information about the accident, be sure to share this information with the attorney at your consultation.
You probably don’t need to bring your whole medical file to your initial consultation, but it will be helpful to bring pertinent information. Florida law requires you to see a qualified doctor within 14 days of the accident to be eligible to use your PIP benefits. To use the full amount of your PIP benefits, you must be diagnosed with an emergency medical condition. An attorney can see based on who you saw and your diagnosis whether you have met the minimum requirements.
Write down the names and contact information of any doctor you have seen and any conditions you have been diagnosed with. If you have been prescribed medication, right down the name and dosage of each. Don’t forget to write down the names of any chiropractors, physical therapists, or massage therapists you have seen.
It’s also a good idea to bring receipts for any purchases relevant to your case. Did you buy a TENS unit? Have you been using over the counter pain relievers? These are all costs that can be reimbursed at the end of your case.
If you cannot return to work, your attorney will likely request time-loss benefits. The law allows you to seek reimbursement for any time you missed from work as a direct result of the accident. To calculate the amount of damages, the attorney will need to know how much you make. It’s also helpful to know where you work, how long you have been there, and your role at the company. Your attorney will likely ask for all of this information later. To get started, it will probably be sufficient to bring a copy of a recent paystub.
If you have returned to work, write down the dates that you missed from work. Your lawyer may request a letter from your employer to verify these dates at a later time. If you have received any workers’ compensation benefits or any other benefits as the result of the accident, bring this information as well.
Contact With the Other Parties
It’s not unusual for insurance companies to make immediate contact with the other party. This is especially true for large trucking companies looking to get the accident behind them.
Some documents you may receive include:
- Requests for information
- Settlement offers
- Information about how to get repairs
- General information about filing a claim
Never sign anything without talking to an attorney. Truck accidents can cause a considerable amount of damage. While an offer from the insurance company may seem large, it is likely much lower than what you deserve. You should only accept an offer after you have talked to an attorney. Once you hire an attorney, the insurance company is not allowed to contact you directly. If you plan on hiring an attorney, let the insurance company know the next time they contact you. This should slow down or stop any communication.
A List of Questions for the Attorney
The attorney needs a good idea of the case, but you also want to learn more about the attorney. This is your consultation and your opportunity to decide whether this attorney is right for you. Because of this, you need to come prepared. Don’t wing it. Write down a list of questions that are important to you. (Don’t forget to bring a pen and paper to write down the answers.)
The questions you will ask will depend on what is important to you, but a few questions to ask include:
- How much experience do you have with truck accidents? Truck accidents are a different beast than other accidents and require a different level of expertise.
- Do you think I have a case? Obviously, you want someone who will fight for you. If the attorney you are meeting with isn’t sure you have a case, you may want to get a second opinion.
- How much time do you have to devote to my case?
- How big is your team?
- How much access will I have to you and your team? (Is it important for you to have unlimited access or your lawyer’s cell phone number?)
- Do you have any trial experience? This is important.
- How long do you expect the case to take?
- What are your fees? How will I be charged?
What to Expect at Your Initial Consultation
Don’t expect your initial consultation to be too long. It will probably run anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. During this time, you will be learning about your potential lawyer and they will be learning about you and your case. The lawyer will likely ask you to tell them what happened, including where and when the accident occurred. They will probably ask about your injuries and who you have seen for your injuries.
Don’t expect an attorney to tell you how much your case is worth. There is no way to get a good feel for the value of the case until there is a thorough investigation. The first appointment will essentially be a meet and greet and an opportunity for the attorney to decide whether you have a case. You should expect the attorney to be honest with their opinions about the case and the fees that they charge. Trust your gut and only move forward with the attorney if you are comfortable.
When to Hire a Truck Accident Attorney
You don’t want to wait too long to hire an attorney. Florida law allows accident victims four years to make a personal injury claim. This does not mean that you should wait until the very end. The sooner you start the process, the sooner you might recover damages and begin your recovery.
Recovering from a truck accident can be an emotional experience. You want someone by your side who you can trust and will fight to obtain what you deserve. The initial consultation is all about you. Don’t wait to get the help that you deserve. If you have questions or need help, contact an experienced Florida truck accident attorney.