Too many attorneys  think that a tractor trailer collision is just a bigger car wreck.  They know not that they know not , and therefore do not spot the issues or take the steps required  to preserve and develop evidence or reach all the sources of insurance coverage. In my Georgia personal injury practice, I am sometimes called upon to clean up  what others mess up.

So how can one identify an attorney qualified to handle  a catastrophic trucking accident case? My good buddy Morgan Adams, Lt. Col., USMC (Ret.) in Chattanooga recently wrote on this topic in his trucking blog.

1.    A trucking trial lawyer should have peer review ratings and specialty organization memberships that indicate experience, competence, and a  strong focus on trucking trial practice. Generally, the attorney should be member of his or her state trial lawyers organization, the American Association for Justice (AAJ), AAJ’s Interstate Trucking Litigation Group, and the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America. It is good to know if a lawyer has chaired and spoken at several 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 participated significantly in local or state bar associations.

2.    A trucking accident lawyer should be able to fund complex, expensive litigation. The cost of accident reconstruction experts,  vocational experts, economists, video depositions of  defense witnesses and treating physicians, high quality  medical illustrations, and a lot of air travel around the country for depositions can be  pretty  expensive.  While the lawyer’s office need not be a veritable Taj Mahalr, there should be some indications of f success and competence. The key is whether the lawyer has access to funds, often through a large line of credit litigation specifically for  funding client litigation expenses , to be able to properly prepare a case for trial.

3.    Any lawyer you entrust with handling a catastrophic injury case should have the experience of litigating and trying truck accident cases.

4.    You should pick a lawyer who has repeatedly lectured other lawyers in the area of trucking litigation, preferably  both in the home state and at the national level.  As one who has chaired probably dozens of Continuing Legal Education seminars over the past 20 years, I know that almost any lawyer can get crack at speaking on a CLE seminar program. But  the presentations are graded by the audience.  If the audience of lawyers gives low ratings,  the speaker won’t be invited back. So ask whether the  lawyer been invited repeatedly to speak to other lawyers about trucking litigation around the country?

5.    Can the lawyer hire the best experts and get them involved in your case? It takes a lot of networking over a long period of time to find out who are the best experts in a field, and to have the contacts to get them involved in a case at the right time.

6.     INSPECT THE LAWYER’S WEB SITE – It should  tell you what type of cases the lawyer’s firm handles. Some law firms advertise that they handle trucking cases, but they doe not show any depth in that area.  In the old Texas phrase, some of them are “all hat and no cattle.” Do they have an extensive trucking site or is it more focused on car wrecks or general personal injury matters? Does the lawyer have a blog, and if so in what area of the law?

Ken Shigley has served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, co-sponsored by the Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina Trial Lawyers Associations.  He is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is actively involved in the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. A member of the Million Dollar Advocates, he has successfully tried trucking accident cases to multimillion dollar verdict.  He has lectured on trucking litigation topics at  continuing legal education programs both at home in Georgia and in Nashville, New Orleans and St. Louis, and is scheduled to do so in the future. A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he is also a Master of the Lamar Inn of Court at Emory Law School, a faculty member for ten years at the Emory University Law School Trial Techniques Program, and Past President of the State Bar of Georgia