Semi-trucks are a common sight on Washington roads and highways. While most semi-truck drivers are trained professionals, they can and often do make mistakes. Unfortunately, the force generated by a collision can be catastrophic. When an 18-wheeler and private automobile collide, the driver of the smaller vehicle is likely to sustain serious wounds—in some cases, even life-altering injuries. If the victim is fortunate enough to survive, they may still face an uphill battle against financial loss, crippling disability, and emotional suffering.
An experienced Seattle-area semi-truck attorney could help you overcome the odds, negotiating a fair and equitable settlement that provides for your immediate needs and covers your long-term expenses. However, finding the right lawyer can be challenging, especially when every legal firm seems to make similar guarantees.
How to Find the Right Semi-Truck Accident Attorney
When you are considering hiring a Washington semi-truck accident attorney, you should carefully consider their:
- Experience. Every practicing attorney has graduated from law school and passed the Washington Bar Examination. However, lawyers usually choose a specialty once they begin working. Personal injury attorneys typically represent people who have been hurt in accidents. But not every personal injury attorney has the experience needed to negotiate the state and federal transportation laws that can drastically impact the outcome of a semi-truck accident case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Washington semi-truck collision that was not your fault, you likely stand your best chance of recovery when you consult a lawyer who has substantial prior experience resolving similar claims.
- Communication. Lawyers are supposed to advocate for their clients’ best interests. But attorneys are only people: some are good at explaining complex ideas, while others struggle to convey legal principles in a way lay people can understand. Similarly, some large law firms limit clients’ opportunities to interact with actual attorneys, steering them toward paralegals and keeping a distance until the case is close to resolution. Before you hire a lawyer, you should ensure their communication style is compatible with yours.
- Caseload. People often want to hire big-name law firms, believing that a large office with a sizeable staff is more likely to deliver the best possible result. However, if an attorney already has a significant caseload, they may not be able to give your claim the time and attention it needs to succeed.
- Contingency fees. Most personal injury firms operate on a contingency-fee basis. A contingency-fee arrangement allows an accident victim to pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit without having to spend their own money. Instead of paying their lawyer’s fees up-front, their attorney takes a percentage-based portion of their eventual settlement. Generally, if the lawyer cannot secure any compensation, the client is not obliged to pay. However, contingency fees can vary between firms. You should always ask an attorney how much they charge as a contingency fee and if they plan to recover certain legal costs—such as paperwork filing fees and the costs of consulting an expert witness—from the settlement.
- Trial experience. The vast majority of semi-truck-related claims and lawsuits never reach trial. Instead, they are settled through alternative dispute resolution methods, including arbitration and mediation. However, some high-stakes cases may eventually go to court. If the insurance company, the truck driver, or the carrier is unwilling to negotiate in good faith, you deserve an attorney who has the experience needed to persuade a judge or a jury of your right to compensation.