If you’re injured in an accident with a commercial truck, the idea of filing a lawsuit can be daunting. You’re already hurt and dealing with the emotional and physical fallout of the accident—now you need to start legal proceedings.
Unfortunately, if you want to get the full compensation you deserve, you will likely have to file an injury lawsuit. You can increase your chances of winning in three ways: starting to prepare your case as soon as possible, selecting a favorable jury, and proving liability and damages.
As I’ll explain in this article, if you can successfully do these three things with the help of your attorney, you have a good chance of winning your truck accident lawsuit.
#1: Start Preparing Your Case as Soon as Possible
As the victim, you want to hire an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. Any good attorney will start preparing for trial as soon as they get hired.
First, your attorney will try to figure out why the truck wreck happened. They’ll hire experts who not only can figure that out, but who also will testify well at trial. They will hire trucking industry experts as well as experts familiar with the obligations that commercial motor vehicle drivers must follow. Likewise, they’ll hire experts such as doctors, economists, life care planners, lost future earnings witnesses, grief counselors, and others who can explain to the jury, in a persuasive way, the damages you and your family have suffered.
In addition, your lawyers will look for good “before” and “after” witnesses, people who knew you before the accident and people who knew you after the accident. Your legal team will meet with every potential witness you suggest and then work with everyone, including you, so you all know what to expect when you testify at the actual trial.
By taking this step to prepare your case early, your team will be ready and unrushed when the trial finally happens.
#2: Select a Favorable Jury
At trial, it is important to do a good job picking a jury. This means trying to keep those who would be bad for your case off of the jury.
During the jury selection process, potential jurors will be seated in the courtroom, and the lawyers will usually have the chance to talk to them and ask them questions. The purpose of the questions is to make sure that each potential juror has no independent information regarding the wreck, is independent-minded, and can listen to the case and make a decision based upon just the evidence and the law as presented by the court and the attorneys.
Jury selection is extremely important, and your attorney should be trained and skilled in this phase of the trial. It is important to find out which jurors can’t be fair or are not willing to award an appropriate damage award. The goal is to try to remove the ones that are clearly prejudicial to your case and pick jurors who will treat you fairly.
#3: Prove Liability and Damages
You must prove liability and damages. This means proving who was at fault, and proving the harm and damages were caused by the wreck.
First, in order to prove liability, your legal team must show who is at fault for the wreck and who acted unreasonably. You may call police officers, accident reconstructionists, experienced truck drivers, and witnesses to the accident to show that the truck driver and/or the trucking company did or did not do certain things that caused the accident.
The second part of the trial is damages. These are the losses of you, the client, and the harms that have been done to your family. All of this must be proven through the testimony of the doctors, economists, and experts who will explain the extent of the loss of past and future earnings, as well as the projected costs of any future medical expenses and future life care needs.
In addition, before and after witnesses will also be called—these are people who can attest to how the accident has changed you. Other elements of damages may include pain, suffering, scarring, permanency of an injury, loss of enjoyment of life, and the effects the injury is having on you. Combined, these factors will help the jury decide how much money you deserve.
Preparation Is Everything
By the time your lawsuit goes to trial, if you’ve done everything right, there should be no more surprises. You and your legal team will have started preparing for court as early as possible, will have selected the best jurors for your case, and will have put together a compelling argument proving liability and damages.
None of this preparation can fully suppress the nerves you might feel about going to trial, and nothing can guarantee a win in court. But by exhaustively preparing your case, you can start the trial confident that you possess all the information and allies you need to win your lawsuit and get the compensation you’re owed.
For more advice on trucking accidents, you can find Semitruck Wreck on Amazon.
David W. Craig is the managing partner at the law firm of Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC. He is board certified in Truck Accident Law. David sits on the board of regents for the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys (ATAA) and has over 30 years of experience representing truck accident victims. David is a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and a proud recipient of the Thurgood Marshall “Fighting for Justice” Award. He was also named a top 10 trucking trial lawyer in Indiana by the National Trial Lawyers Association. To connect with David, visit ckflaw.com.