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Truck accident lawyer selection

Many lawyers think that a tractor trailer crash is just a big car wreck. Not knowing how much they don’t know, they fail to take necessary steps to preserve and develop evidence. So how can you as a consumer identify an appropriate lawyer for a trucking accident case? My friend Morgan Adams in Chattanooga recently wrote on this topic in his blog.

1. A trucking accident trial attorney should have peer review ratings and specialty organization memberships that indicate experience, competence, and a very strong focus on trucking trial practice. Generally, the attorney should be member of his or her state trial lawyers organization (e.g., Georgia Trial Lawyers Association), the American Association for Justice (AAJ), AAJ’s Interstate Trucking Litigation Group, and the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America. It is a plus if an attorney has chaired continuing legal education seminars in the area of trucking litigation, who are Certified Civil Trial Advocates of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and who have participated in a meaningful way in local or state bar associations.

2. A trucking accident attorney should have the capacity to fund substantial litigation. The cost of accident reconstruction experts, economists, vocational experts, video depositions of multiple defense witnesses and treating physicians, custom medical illustrations, and extensive travel around the country for depositions can be quite expensive. While the lawyer’s office need not be palatial or in a state of the art office tower, it should have some of the earmarks of success and competence. The key is whether the lawyer has access to funds, often through a large litigation funding line of credit, to fund properly preparing 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 choose someone who has repeatedly lectured other lawyers in the area of trucking litigation, both in their home state and at the national level. Any lawyer might be given one chance to speak at a seminar, but since the presentations are graded by the audience. If the audience of lawyers feels the seminar is not worthwhile the speaker won’t be invited back a second time. Has 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. CHECK OUT THE LAWYER’S WEB SITE – The web site will tell you what type of cases the lawyer’s firm handles. 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? Do they list papers written by the lawyers, and if so what are the topics?

This firm fits the qualifications outlined above. Ken Shigley is a trucking safety trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. He served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute in 2005, is a national board member of the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice, and is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America.

He has extensive experience representing parties in interstate trucking collision cases, and in the past two years has spoken at national interstate trucking litigation seminars in Chicago (trucking insurance), New Orleans (trial tactics and side underride issues), St. Louis (punitive damages), San Francisco (dealing with insolvent trucking companies), Atlanta (trucking insurance, closing argument), Nashville (use of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations), and Amelia Island (overview of trucking litigation).

A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale). In addition to trucking litigation, he has broad experience in products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. Currently he is Treasurer and a 2010 candidate for President-Elect of the 41,000 member State Bar of Georgia.This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.

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