Accidents often happen suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving everyone involved stunned, frightened, and concerned for the future. That kind of anxiety, coupled with the suffering that results from accident-related injuries, can leave one feeling confused about the next steps. The legal process is especially muddled when the accident involves a semi-truck, because some laws apply differently to commercial drivers.
When You’re Hit by a Semi-Truck
You’ve already survived one devastating impact and now you’re faced with a possible civil suit to recover compensation for damages, but where do you start? In cases where the truck driver is employed by a large trucking company, the choice seems obvious. Going after the company is preferable in many cases, but, sometimes, that’s not an option. Where the driver is an independent owner-operator, the victim of an accident is only left with one option.
First, the driver will be named in the suit, but a deeper look at his situation may reveal the possibility of naming a parent company in the suit. In some cases, even independent drivers aren’t really on their own. Sometimes, the driver will be operating a vehicle owned by a trucking company with vehicle only contracted out to the driver. In that case, you may also sue the trucking company in question, depending on the exact language of the contract signed between company and driver.
Even in cases where the contract states that the company is not liable for damages incurred by the driver, there may be further stipulations that work in favor of the plaintiff in a personal injury case. An experienced attorney should be able to determine the best course of action for such a civil suit.
How to Know If It’s Time to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Even in a serious accident, it’s difficult to know when one should hire a lawyer or at which point that does become necessary. While it’s often a good idea to have an attorney involved before dealing with insurance company representatives, other factors may prompt a consultation sooner rather than later.
- The insurance company is very experienced dealing with claims because that’s their business, so they know what your damages are worth and how to lowball their settlement offer. A personal injury attorney can ensure you’re not being cheated and, in many cases, may get you a deal better than you could have negotiated on your own.
- Another factor that may necessitate the hiring of a personal injury lawyer has to do with the extent of your injuries. When an accident was serious enough to cause severe injuries, long term treatment may be required, as well as time off from work. In addition, there is likely pain and suffering caused by the injuries. A personal injury lawyer can determine a fair sum to cover all of these damages.
Documenting Your Damages
You can help your attorney by collecting as much documentation as possible. In addition to police accident reports, you can supply your lawyer with medical records and bills related to the injuries you sustained as a result of the accident. Also, be sure to document all missed time from work and collect estimates for property damage repairs in relation to the incident.
Personal injury lawyers don’t collect fees the way other attorneys do, so accident victims usually need not worry about coming up with a retainer fee up front. Instead, they most often work on a contingency fee and will offer a free initial consultation to determine the merits of your case. If they agree to represent you, they will likely work for a percentage of the claim awarded in the case. Contact an experienced attorney today such as the Virginia Truck Accident Lawyer.
Thanks to authors at Martin Wren P.C. for their insight into Personal Injury Law.