How to Find the Right Alabama Truck Accident Lawyer

Birmingham Semi Truck Accident Attorney

Video Transcript:

Sara Williams:

Trucking companies know when they are facing a lawyer who is not experienced in handling trucking cases, and like sharks, they smell blood in the water, and they are going to take advantage of that.

Rob Rosenthal:

If you're injured after a crash with a commercial truck, how do you make sure you pick the right attorney? We're gonna find out right now, because that's what we're going to Ask the Lawyer. Hi again, everybody, I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers.com. My guest is Alabama attorney Sara Williams. Want remind you right off the top, if you wanna ask Sara questions of your own, it's easy to do. Go to AskTheLawyers.com, click the button in the upper corner that says Ask a Lawyer and doesn't cost you anything to ask your questions or you can just call the phone number that's on the screen when we're talking to Sara. Sara, good to see again, thank you so much for making some time to help us out.

Sara Williams:

Good to see you as well. And thank you for having me.

Rob Rosenthal:

Let's just start at the beginning. If someone's injured, they have a crash with a big rig 18-wheeler... Why do they need to hire an attorney?

Sara Williams:

Well, I will tell you from experience, the trucking companies are going to have their lawyers on their cases immediately. When I was a defense lawyer, the firms I worked with were members of what we call 24-hour response teams, so as soon as a wreck occurred and that driver reported it to their company, most companies then report to their insurance companies who then in turn contacted their counsel in that area. And so what happens when you don't immediately hire a lawyer to assist you as well is you end up behind the eight ball when it comes to evidence preservation.

Rob Rosenthal:

So you're already at a disadvantage then.

Sara Williams:

That's exactly right. And so naturally, the dynamics are different, so the truck drivers typically aren't injured, or even if they are, the insurance company is at an advantage in terms of getting started sooner, so most times, we are already starting off a little bit behind, but if you delay even further, sometimes people will wait until they've gotten discharged from the hospital, well, that could be weeks after a wreck and that truck could be repaired and back on the road and valuable evidence could be lost.

Rob Rosenthal:

So the insurance company response team, they're not at all trying to do anything that's gonna help your case as the injured person?

Sara Williams:

Absolutely, their job is to, typically, to preserve evidence, but in such a way that ensures that it is favorable for them. They are typically not looking out for the interest of the person who may be making a claim against them, so they are gathering evidence so they can make decisions, but those decisions are not going to be made in such a way that is favorable to the person who was hurt, so you need to have somebody as soon as possible out there looking out for you. And I tell all of my clients, that gives you peace of mind. Turn that burden over to someone else who is trained and specializes in dealing with those issues while you focus on healing and getting back to whatever your normal is going to be.

Rob Rosenthal:

Alright, so we've determined you need to hire an attorney, you need to hire one as soon as possible. Why is it important, Sara, to have somebody who's an experienced trucking attorney? Can't just any personal injury attorney handle these kind of cases?

Sara Williams:

They will tell you they can. Obviously commercial cases are cases that lawyers want to handle, and so most personal injury firms are attempting to sign up those cases. Unfortunately, though, a lot of those firms will then handle a truck race like they would handle a car wreck case. You cannot handle a truck wreck case as if it was Sally and Joe who are in their Honda Civics, got in a wreck on the interstate, it's completely different. And unfortunately, people don't explain that because they want you to sign up with them, and so it's important to know what to ask so that you can be able to make the determination as to whether the firm you are hiring has the experience and the... Even within that firm, they've assigned it to a lawyer who has the experience that you need.

Rob Rosenthal:

What's the drawback for someone that may hire somebody who doesn't have that experience Sara?

Sara Williams:

I have seen, unfortunately, when you're in the position some of us are in where you're getting cases referred to you after they've been handled, like a car wreck, the evidence is gone, so there are time limitations in terms of how long these trucking companies have to retain certain documents, and if you wait until you've finished treating and you've tried to settle the case and then you can't settle the case, it could be a year, a year and a half after the wreck has occurred, and the information that you need in order to establish your claim and not only establish your claim, but also ensure that the recovery is worth the effort that you're going to put into it is gone. And so it's important that you hire a lawyer who understands that evidence preservation, that is like half the battle in these cases. The other issue is trucking companies are governed by both state and federal laws, and there are certain responsibilities that they have that regular motoring public does not have... And those are things that we utilize to argue in terms of their liability, but if you're a lawyer who is not familiar with those regulations or how to argue that those regulations are what the violation of those regulations is what has caused this trucking company and driver to be responsible for these damages, then you're at a disadvantage as well, and so bottom line, in my opinion, trucking companies know when they are facing a lawyer who is not experienced in handling tracking cases and like sharks, they smell blood in the water, and they are going to take advantage of that.

Rob Rosenthal:

And does that, take advantage of that, does that ultimately come down to fewer dollars in recovery?

Sara Williams:

Possibly, yes.

Rob Rosenthal:

So something you mentioned a little while ago, you've actually worked on both sides of these. Tell me a little bit about that and why that's an advantage.

Sara Williams:

So yes, I spent the first seven years of my practice as an insurance defense attorney in the last half of that handling primarily trucking cases, which has really benefited me and then obviously my clients in terms of understanding what these companies are looking for, understanding kind of where their weaknesses can be, but also being able to know what we need to provide them with for decision-making and also what evidence preservation needs to be done early on, because obviously I understand what documents end up getting tossed as soon as they can get tossed.

Rob Rosenthal:

What if someone is thinking, you mentioned, oftentimes in a crash with a big vehicle like that, these are some serious injuries and can be catastrophic injuries. Their life is turned upside down. What if they're thinking, Sara, I don't think I can afford to hire a firm, hire somebody of your caliber to help my case. What do you say to that?

Sara Williams:

Well, all personal injury attorneys should be working on a contingency fee basis, and that's one of the things that I try to reassure my clients is, Listen, we are going to spend the money on the front end hiring the experts we need to preserve the evidence that you need in order to make a claim while you're off healing, and if eventually you do not recover, then we eat those expenses, right. And if we do recover, then those expenses will be a part of that, that's paid out of that recovery, but you have a peace of mind to know that somebody is working for you and you're not having to pay them on a monthly basis or an annual basis, or pay them for a consultation fee, we start working as soon as we have a signed contract, and that is really all it takes is you're signature on a piece of paper in order for us to start doing the things that we need to do in order to preserve your claim while you are focusing on healing, and I can't express that enough. I think that the thing that has been the biggest difference for me in terms of being on this side of the V as we call, is really seeing how these wrecks affect people and affect their lives, even when they eventually...

Sara Williams:

I tell all my clients, there is another side, right, there will be another side and we're gonna get you to that other side, but when you are in it, it is all consuming, and so you wanna be able to focus on healing and adjusting with your family, and let us focus on getting your compensation from the trucking company, preserving your claim and litigating your case.

Rob Rosenthal:

I like the way you put it earlier, to let them put that burden on to you, so it's one less thing they have to worry about. 

Sara Williams:

Absolutely, absolutely. And even lately, one of the issues we've seen a lot are medical companies taking advantage of the fact that someone has gotten hit by a big truck, and so instead of even billing their insurance, they're sending those bills to the client directly. And so one of the things that is important with me and my team is send us the bills that you're getting in so we can ensure they're getting paid by who they need to get paid, they are being sent where they need to be sent, and if they are in collections, we are talking to those folks and saying, Listen, this is what's going on, this is the process, feel free to call us, but please don't call and harass our clients, they're trying to heal.

Rob Rosenthal:

A lots of great information here. Thank you so much for helping us out and answering our questions.

Sara Williams:

You're very welcome.

Rob Rosenthal:

That's gonna take care of this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been Alabama attorney Sara Williams. U remind you again, if you'd like to ask Sara questions of your own, go AskTheLawyers.com, there's a button in the upper righthand corner that says Ask the Lawyer, and you can ask your questions right there. It doesn't cost you anything to ask a question. Thanks for watching everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with Ask the Lawyers.

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.


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