When a commercial truck causes an an accident that results in personal injury to you or the wrongful death of a loved one, there are certain steps which you need to take to protect your legal rights and ensure that you have the opportunity to hold accountable the truck driver and trucking company and, just as importantly, to fairly compensate you for your injuries and losses.
After hiring me or another trucking lawyer at our law firm, your lawyer will send a “spoliation letter” to make sure the truck driver and trucking company preserve all of the evidence you will need to prove the accident was caused by the fault of the truck driver and trucking company. “Spoliation” of evidence is the destruction, loss, alteration or concealment of evidence. The spoliation letter puts the trucking company on notice that an accident victim (or the victim’s family in a wrongful death case) has a claim against the company and that it is responsible for preserving evidence that may be used to prove that claim.
The second step is gathering evidence to prove fault and to find out the trucking company’s fault is so great that it would support a punitive damages claim. The process of evidence-gathering includes taking “depositions” (interviews recorded by a court reporter) of the truck driver, trucking company management and others. It also includes getting corporate documents (sometimes boxes and boxes of them), which need to be reviewed with a fine-tooth comb.
The third step, after we have all of the evidence necessary to support your claim, is for our lawyers to send a settlement demand to the insurer for the trucking company. This letter will contain the following: 1) information about the evidence proving the truck driver was at fault; 2) information about the accident victim, including the evidence establishing the significance of the injuries and losses suffered; and 3) a monetary “demand” for a specific amount of money to settle the claim.
The fourth step is negotiations. The art of negotiating accident claims involves knowing your opponent, the law involved, and how the evidence gathered proves fault and supports the dollar amount sought as compensation. In preparation for negotiations, we often hire expert witnesses, including accident reconstruction specialists, animators, medical experts and others who will help us demonstrate that if the trucking company is unwilling or unable to meet our settlement demand, we have the ability to prove the case in court in front of a jury.
Step 5 is going to trial, which occurs when the case cannot be settled for an amount which would fairly compensate you for your injuries and losses. Most cases do eventually settle, although sometimes not until you are on the courthouse steps. However, we always prepare a case as it was going to trial. In fact, everything we do is done to win the case at trial. Every argument has to be anticipated, and we need to have a bullet-proof response. We also need to anticipate challenges to evidence and how the other side will question our expert witnesses, since trucking cases are often won or lost based on expert witness testimony.
I am an attorney who represents clients in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against negligent drivers, commercial truck and bus companies, manufacturers of defective parts and others. You can call 1-888-377-8900 or click here now to contact me for help.
About Attorney Eric Hageman
Eric Hageman has successfully tried numerous cases to juries in his career and has successfully argued appeals at both the state and federal level. In recognition of his accomplishments, Mr. Hageman has been named a “Super Lawyer” for eleven consecutive years, 2004 through 2014.