How to Pick a Lawyer for a Truck Accident Case
Ken Shigley is an interstate trucking trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. He has tried over 120 jury trials to verdict, including multi-million dollar recoveries in tractor trailer crash cases. Too many lawyers don't realize how much they don't know about truck accident litigation. They think of a tractor trailer crash as just a bigger car wreck. Knowing not that they know not, they do not recognize issues or take the steps required to preserve and develop evidence or reach all the sources of insurance coverage. The risk of legal malpractice is all too real, and the duty to refer to a trucking litigation specialist should be considered.
So how can one identify an attorney qualified to handle a catastrophic trucking accident case?
How much trial experience does the lawyer have? While many cases do settle before trial, the insurance company's valuation depends in part upon whether the lawyer handling the case has a reputation for trying cases to verdict. Many lawyers who heavily advertise for personal injury cases, including commercial trucking cases, have no real track record trying cases before juries. They either settle cases cheap or refer them out to other lawyers. In the old Texas phrase, some of them are "all hat and no cattle." Any lawyer entrusted with representation of an individual or family in a commercial trucking case involving catastrophic injury should have tried scores of cases before juries as well as substantial experience in litigating complex motor carrier liability cases.
Is the lawyer specialized in motor carrier liability litigation practice? Some lawyers advertise for trucking cases, along with criminal law, entertainment law, divorce law, estate planning, medical malpractice, etc., with credentials stated in glittering generalities with few specifics. It is unlikely that any one lawyer truly specialize in so many diverse areas of law.
Is the lawyer recognized by colleagues as a leader in the field? An attorney for a catastrophic truck or bus accident case should be active in leadership and seminar speaking in specialty organizations. There should be substantial indications of competence, experience, and heavy concentration in motor carrier liability trial practice, and that the lawyer has earned the respect of his or her professional colleagues. It is good to know if a lawyer has chaired and spoken at continuing legal education seminars in the area of trucking litigation, is are Certified Civil Trial Advocates of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and has held leadership positions in local or state bar associations.
Does the lawyer have the resources to handle the case? Because serious litigation is seriously expensive, an attorney representing the plaintiff in a catastrophic trucking accident case must have access to adequate funding, often through a litigation line of credit, to be able to properly prepare a case for trial. The expenses of such litigation are likely to include video depositions of defense witnesses and treating physicians, accident reconstruction experts, vocational experts, economists, custom medical illustrations, and a air travel around the country for depositions.. The attorney's office need not be large or lavish but there should be some indications of competence and success.
Is the lawyer frequently invited to speak on trucking litigation at continuing legal education seminars? One objective measure of a lawyer's specialization is whether he or she has repeatedly taught other lawyers in the area of trucking litigation, both in the home state and in national continuing legal education programs. Almost any lawyer may wrangle a single invitation to speak at a CLE program. However, the speakers are graded by the lawyers in the audience. If a speaker gets low ratings, he won't be a "regular" on seminar faculties or move up to national programs.
Does the lawyer have the right connections to put together the case? Networking is important too. Does the lawyer have the connections to identify appropriate expert witnesses and exchange ideas with top colleagues across the country?
Ken Shigley is an interstate trucking trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. He has tried over 120 jury trials to verdict, including multi-million dollar recoveries in tractor trailer crash cases. Mr. Shigley is a past president of the 45,000 member State Bar of Georgia (2011-12) and is chair-elect of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section, and has served on the national board of the AAJ Trucking Litigation Group. For years he has been a frequent speaker at trucking litigation seminars across the United States. A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy and a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, he has been designated as a "Super Lawyer" (Atlanta Magazine) and one of "Georgia's Legal Elite" (Georgia Trend Magazine). He was a faculty member for ten years at the Emory University Law School Trial Techniques Program, and is a Master of the Lamar Inn of Court at Emory.