Don't Hire an Attorney Before
Asking These Questions

By Jeff Burns —

It’s critically important to hire the right lawyer. The trucking industry and regulations applicable to it are so complicated that a regular personal injury attorney won’t be equipped to stand up to the teams of attorneys working for the trucking company and its insurance carriers. A reputable truck crash specialist should be able to answer all your questions about your case; here is a list of issues to discuss before you officially hire anyone.

How many truck-crash cases have you litigated? Have you handled any cases similar to mine? What were the results of those cases? Have you ever recovered more than the trucking company’s insurance limits?

What will your first steps be after you are hired? Will you have the crash investigated immediately? Have you prepared spoliation letters to demand the preservation of evidence?

Are there multiple jurisdictions or venues in which my case could be brought?  What are the strategic decisions to be made regarding where the case can be filed? Do you have experience litigating in other jurisdictions or multiple jurisdictions simultaneously?

Have you considered or investigated additional potential causes of the crash? What independent claims should be made against the truck driver’s employer? Is there a potential case against the company that brokered the truck’s load? Is there a claim to be made against the entity that set up and maintained a construction zone?

Do you know anything about the trucking company in my case?  Have you looked into the company’s safety ratings and history? What do you know about the company’s insurance coverage?

Do you have access to expert witnesses on various truck crash issues, such as fatigue, impairment, distraction, crash reconstruction, toxicology, human factors, cellphone usage, motor carrier safety culture and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations?

Can you provide examples of when your firm has proven a police investigation to be misleading, inaccurate or incomplete?

Are you familiar with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations? Do you know what regulations are likely to be most important in my case?

Have you written articles or given speeches or presentations concerning truck crash litigation and truck safety?

Have you ever negotiated a settlement that required the trucking company to adopt enhanced safety features? (Such settlements might include real-time telematics and driver monitoring systems, crash avoidance technology, additional driver training, electronic driver logs, cellphone usage policies and independent safety audits.)

Have you addressed problems in the trucking industry outside litigation?  Have you worked for better safety regulations? Have you worked with any truck crash safety, advocacy or victims’ groups to address the hazards of the industry?

Are you considered an authority on truck crash cases by other lawyers and the trucking safety community?

Can you provide client references?


Jeff Burns, a truck crash attorney with Dollar Burns & Becker and victim advocate.