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Truck Accidents – Five Issues for You and Your WV Lawyer to Consider: Part I

West Virginia’s Truck Accident Attorney, in Charleston, WV, discusses the difficulties of lawsuits involving truck accidents.  Successfully litigating a truck accident claim can be difficult, and there are seven important issues that can influence whether or not a truck accident victim recovers all that he or she deserves – recovering something is not the same as he or she recovering all that they deserve. Maximizing a truck accident claim and how these seven issues are resolved usually hinges on one important question – what lawyer the truck accident victim hires?

Accidents involving tractor trailers are generally more complex and difficult than truck car accidents involving only passenger vehicles. This series of posts addresses seven issues that often distinguish commercial truck accident claims from passenger vehicle accident claims, which if properly handled, may help you maximize your claim.

1. Who is Liable For Your Injuries?

As in all vehicle accidents, the driver may be liable for an accident victim’s injuries. However, there are a number of other parties who may also be liable such as the driver’s employer, the company whose load was being hauled by the truck driver, and the company whose truck license placard is placed on the tractor and trailer. Also, under a product liability theory, the designer, manufacturer, seller, and/or distributor of any faulty parts that may have led to the accident may also be liable, as well as any entity responsible for the maintenance and repair of the truck.

This is often a critical issue when the truck driver and trucking company is underinsured.  A truck driver is underinsured when he doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to fairly compensate you for your injuries. The lawyer you hire should evaluate each potential source of recovery and be aware of the different theories of recovery available in truck accident claims.

2. Evidence from the Scene of the Crash

Trucking companies often have a major advantage over truck accident victims. If you’re significantly injured in a truck accident, you likely won’t be able to hire a lawyer before the crash scene has been cleared and evidence destroyed. Most trucking companies, however, have law firms on retainer to investigate the scene of the accident and talk with witnesses and police immediately following an accident.  An effective truck accident lawyer can minimize this advantage during litigation, which is another reason why hiring the right attorney is so important.

3. Trucking Companies’ Resources
Another advantage that a trucking company often has over the truck accident victim is virtually unlimited resources. A truck accident victim often does not have sufficient resources to cover their medical bills and almost always not enough to cover the costs of litigating their complex personal injury case. On the other hand, trucking companies are often multi-million dollar corporations and generally use such resources to employ the best truck accident defense attorneys and investigators available.Fortunately, personal injury lawyers who handle truck accident claims typically represent truck accident victims on a contingency basis. That means that the victim will not be charged an attorney’s fee unless and until a recovery is made. The truck accident litigation expenses are generally also covered by the victim’s attorney until a recovery is made. Litigating a truck accident claim is expensive and often takes a year or more to recover any compensation for the victim. Thus, it’s important to hire a truck accident lawyer who has the resources to effectively litigate your claim and who won’t cut corners because they lack the resources to maximize your claim.

Another important consideration when hiring a truck accident lawyer is whether they expect you to pay them back your litigation expenses if they lose your case.  In West Virginia, a personal injury lawyer must disclose to a client who is responsible for the cost of litigation if you lose your case. So, read any agreement you enter into with a personal injury attorney carefully.

Part II will follow shortly.  I welcome your comments, suggestions, and questions.

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