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Utah Semi-Truck Accident Attorney Kevin Swenson

Former Insurance Defense Lawyer Offers Tips on What to Do After a Crash

Video Transcript:

Kevin Swenson:

You need to do it as soon as possible so that you can inspect the trucks, look at what's going on, and get as much information as possible as soon as possible.

Rob Rosenthal:

So what if you could get some insider tips from a former defense attorney who worked for the trucking companies for what you should do after you've been injured in a trucking accident. Well, that we're going to do right now, because that's what we're going to ask the lawyer.

Hi again, everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com, and my guest is Utah attorney Kevin Swenson. Kevin, good to see you. Thank you for making some time to help us out.

Kevin Swenson:

Good morning. Thank you.

Rob Rosenthal:

I want to remind everybody that if you have questions about your specific situation, you should go to askthelawyers.com, click on the button at the top of the screen that says “Ask a Lawyer”, and you can ask your question right there. But right now, we're going to ask Kevin some questions. So you're a plaintiff's attorney now, Kevin, but that hasn't always been the case, right?

Kevin Swenson:

Yeah, that's correct. I started out my practice working for insurance companies and doing a lot of commercial motor vehicle cases in that realm.

Rob Rosenthal:

So you have a unique perspective as we talk about, specifically today, the injuries from collisions with trucks and big rigs and that sort of thing. Have you had a lot of experience representing people that have been injured in those ways?

Kevin Swenson:

I have. That's something that we spend a significant amount of our time doing, and spend a lot of time learning about it, practicing it, and handling those types of cases.

Rob Rosenthal:

And coming from the background that you do, how does that help you? How does that give you an advantage in the courtroom?

Kevin Swenson:

I think it gives us an advantage because we know what insurance companies are doing to evaluate a case, what they're looking at, what their resources are, and who they're getting involved and when. I think just knowing their game plan helps us present our game plan and work it a little better, and counter the issues that they're going to raise.

Rob Rosenthal:

Let's talk about that a little bit, that game plan. So someone, let's say, is injured in a collision with an 18-wheeler; what is that driver and that trucking company doing to help their case, and how quickly does that all go into action?

Kevin Swenson:

It goes into action very quickly. I've had a number of cases where the driver of the 18-wheeler will call his dispatcher before he'll call 911, and they want to make sure that they get their dispatcher online to tell them what to do and what to tell the police when they arrive. But a lot of these insurance companies that do a lot of trucking cases or commercial motor vehicle cases, they have a quick strike group; so they can call an attorney in that area, they've already got them set up, they have accident reconstructionists, they have somebody to go out and document everything while everything's still at the scene, so they can get on the case extremely quickly and move very quickly.

Rob Rosenthal:

Which I'm guessing could be a disadvantage to the injured party if they don't also have somebody on their side getting to the scene as quickly as possible.

Kevin Swenson:

Exactly. So yeah, you need to get out there quickly, start doing an investigation, and get as much information as you can. These commercial motor vehicles have so much electronic data on them, if you don't get to that early there's a chance you don't ever get it.

Rob Rosenthal:

That information, that evidence, does it sometimes disappear?

Kevin Swenson:

It's funny that you ask that, but we've seen that a number of times; where you'll go out and inspect a truck, and actually get out and dig through it rather than just take some pictures of it, and on the windshield you'll see a spot where there was something attached to it, and now it's gone; you may start tracking it and see that there's a cord in there where they had a dash cam, but now it's gone, or they had some sort of device attached there, and they've taken it down. I've seen that on more than one occasion. So yeah, some of that stuff can disappear if you're not careful.

Rob Rosenthal:

Unfortunately, Kevin, when it's, say, a collision between a passenger vehicle and an 18-wheeler, more than likely that person in the passenger vehicle is going to be injured. They may be taken to the hospital; there may be serious, catastrophic injuries. What can be done then? They may not be able to get on the phone to call someone like you. Can their family members and others call on their behalf?

Kevin Swenson:

Sure, yeah. Anybody can call and get somebody out there to investigate the scene, kind of get what we can get. Also, the electronic data is going to be stored for a period of time. So if you can't get it done immediately because you're trying to take care of your medical problems and stuff like that, that's understandable, but you need to do it as soon as possible so that you can inspect the trucks, look at what's going on, and get as much information as possible as soon as possible.

Rob Rosenthal:

Sometimes it seems like it's daunting. I'm just a guy driving my car down the highway, they've got the trucking company, and it's a big company, and it's a big insurance company, and they've got their attorneys and their support. Can the little guys take on the big guys and how does that work?

Kevin Swenson:

You know they can, and if you try to do that yourself, it is daunting, because how can I go after this company that’s so big, that has so many insurance resources; they've got a number of trucks, they're big, they're all over the road, but you just go after them one at a time. And you get somebody who knows what they're doing, knows where to go, where to get the information. There's a lot of information available about trucking companies and drivers out there, if you know what you're doing. So you can use your skill and your expertise from seeing different stuff come up and you can get that same kind of information and you can fight them.

Rob Rosenthal:

So that kind of leads me to my next question: If I'm picking an attorney like yourself who has experience, who does know where to go and how to fight on my behalf, how do I pick? Is everybody the same? Help me out there.

Kevin Swenson:

Yeah, that's a great question, because a lot of people advertise that we do truck crashes, and for so many people they just treat a truck crash like a big car crash, and they're so different because the number of rules and regulations that govern what a truck driver and what a trucking company is supposed to do, how they're supposed to do it, those rules are quite detailed, and if you don't know those and understand those, you're not going to be able to get the results that you need to for your clients. So yeah, just saying that we do trucking cases is not enough; you need somebody who's actually done it, who's done it successfully, and who can do it again.

Rob Rosenthal:

Is it important, Kevin, to find an attorney who is willing to take a case all the way to court, all the way to trial if necessary, and is not just looking for a quick settlement?

Kevin Swenson:

Absolutely. If an insurance knows that you're an attorney that's not going to take a case to trial, then your option is to settle it. Generally, you're not going to put in the time and the resources to prepare that case the same as if you're going to trial, and the insurance companies know that. So you don’t do as good of a job working up the case, they know that, and so their best offer is what you're stuck with, because they say, “Well, we know you're not going to trial, so here's our offer and you really don't have a choice.” So you have to be willing to take a case and take it all the way through; and an insurance company needs to know that you're willing to do that and make that fight.

Rob Rosenthal:

I would imagine an insurance company, not only do they know who's going to go to trial, they know someone like yourself who has experience from the other side, and they’re probably not too happy to see your name on the suit.

Kevin Swenson:

Yeah. That's one thing about insurance companies. They are very good at tracking information. They know what kind of crashes they pay out on, whether you'll go to trial, they always know when your last trial was, what the result of it was, so yeah. They do track information very well.

Rob Rosenthal:

So who you choose is important. Lots of great information. Kevin, thank you so much for taking some time to answer our questions.

Kevin Swenson:

Thank you.

Rob Rosenthal:

And that's going to do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been Utah attorney Kevin Swenson. Remember, if you want to ask questions about your specific situation, just go to askthelawyers.com, click the button at the top that says “Ask a Lawyer”, and it will walk you right through the process of asking right there. Thanks for watching, everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers™.

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