A semitruck hit you on the highway, slamming your little car into the concrete median barrier and breaking your collarbone. Now, you need to hire a lawyer to take the trucking company to court. But how do you find the right truck accident attorney for the job?
First, know that not all lawyers are equal when it comes to representing victims of truck wrecks. Expecting a general practice lawyer to handle your truck accident case would be like going to your family doctor and expecting them to do a heart transplant. To get you a fair amount of compensation in a trucking accident, you need the right lawyer.
Here are a few tips and guidelines, like seeking board-certification and asking critical questions, that will help you find someone who is qualified, ethical, and knowledgeable enough about trucking accidents to get you the money you deserve.
Find a Board-Certified Truck Accident Attorney
One of the most reliable indicators of a competent, ethical lawyer is board certification because it means an independent organization has evaluated the attorney’s qualifications and found them satisfactory.
The best place to start is with attorneys who are board certified in truck accident law from the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA), an attorney board certifying agency accredited by the American Bar Association. The NBTA established the truck accident law certification for attorneys who devote a substantial percentage of their practice to trucking litigation, show hands-on experience in multiple truck accident cases, and pass a comprehensive written exam.
To become board certified in truck accident law, an attorney must demonstrate:
- That at least 30 percent of his or her time has been spent practicing truck accident law during the three years preceding the application.
- Participation in at least one hundred adversarial events such as trials and hearings.
- Participation in continuing legal education and development of the law with respect to commercial motor vehicle accidents. You can’t fake it. You can’t buy your way in.
There is extensive vetting of candidates to ensure that only attorneys who can objectively demonstrate competency in truck wreck cases become board certified.
Research Potential Attorneys
Once you have selected a board certified lawyer, I recommend researching that attorney on the Martindale-Hubbell website. Established in 1868, Martindale-Hubbell is a respected lawyer directory that provides peer and client review ratings for lawyers across the country.
Look for a lawyer that has earned Martindale-Hubbell’s “AV Preeminent” rating. This AV rating signifies that a large number of the lawyer’s peers—other attorneys and members of the judiciary—have ranked him or her at the highest level of professional excellence for legal knowledge and ethical standards.
Another peer-driven system, Avvo, also ranks attorneys. Look on Avvo or the law firm’s website to see how the lawyer you are considering working with ranks among his or her peers. The highest ranking available—a 10.0 Superb rating—is a good indication that you will be in competent and experienced hands from a substantive legal and ethical standpoint.
Ask Attorneys the Hard Questions
Lastly, you’ll want to narrow your choices down to two or three attorneys and then interview them, preferably in person.
Ask them who in the office will actually be working on your case. Sometimes a lawyer will be the face of the firm, the one you see on the billboards or in the TV ads, but it turns out that another lawyer entirely is going to be handling your matter. Ask to meet the entire team.
Don’t be afraid to ask the lead attorney some hard questions, including why they are the best person for the job. Do they seem like they’d value you as a client? You probably want someone who respects you and wants to help you get the money you deserve, not someone who thinks you’re lucky to have them as your lawyer.
The Right Choice Will Have Qualifications and Compassion
Lastly, don’t forget to listen to your gut and pick an attorney who shows empathy and compassion. You are going to be spending a lot of time with the lawyer that you choose. Trucking accident cases can take months or years. All things being equal, hire a lawyer who is empathetic, someone you feel like you can talk to and who will be available to you.
It takes time and money to heal your broken bones and replace your wrecked car, and finding the right lawyer puts you on the best path to getting the compensation you deserve. If you can find someone who is compassionate as well as qualified, as shown by their board certification, peer-review rating, and their answers to tough questions, you’ll be in good hands as you take your trucking case to trial.
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.