A fair portion of the value in retaining counsel after an accident is having someone on your side who knows the geography of your case. For example, if you are involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler truck, the complexity of future legal proceedings might surprise you.
This is true whether you are driving the truck, driving another vehicle or are even a passenger in one of the involved vehicles. Who is at fault is just the beginning of the legal festivities. From there you get into the real heart of what it is like to be part of a confusing and occasionally astonishing process of literal trial and error. Here are some things to consider.
Let’s suppose you are one of the drivers involved in the accident, but you were not driving the truck. Even if you reduce the involved parties to the absolute minimum, your attorney will need to field potential motions and discovery from the truck driver, their employer, a potential combination of companies that own the tractor, a potential combination of companies that own the trailers, and a potential combination of companies that own the cargo. Each of those future litigants will have counsel and one or more insurance companies, and at least two of them may be agents for even more entities, some of which may be based in other states or in foreign countries.
There is a significant chance your case will trigger federal jurisdiction if any of the parties are located in other states or in other nations. Prosecuting a civil claim in federal court is a non-trivial affair, requiring an Austin truck accident attorney with both trial experience and one that is admitted to argue before a federal court. Keep in mind that long-haul trucks are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation under the federal government’s interstate commerce powers, and that any litigation may be subject to a wide variety of regulations in addition to all the federal rules of evidence and any applicable statutes regarding insurance, liability and any criminal issues.
It is absolutely impossible for a lay person to even attempt to untangle the jurisdictional issues in such a case, to say nothing of the conflicting insurance policies, any possibility of regulatory involvement and so forth. Just gathering the evidence for pre-trial motions in such a case is likely to be a prolonged siege requiring support staff and months of filings and responses to filings. Making a mistake during this process can not only be costly, but could subject one or more plaintiffs or defendants to years of appeals, financial disasters and even loss of driving privileges. In the long run, it is always better to have an expert on your side.
By and large, insurance companies offer at least some compensation for legal counsel, and in the most complex cases, will likely take on the responsibilities of representation for themselves in order to avoid missteps. That said, it is always up to the driver to find a way to protect themselves first. It is for that reason counsel should be retained at the earliest possible opportunity.