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Lawyers should start a truck accident lawsuit by first thinking about the end of it

June 16, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

Why a good truck accident lawyer should not make the common mistake of assuming a case will settle

This fall, I’ll be speaking at two legal seminars for truck accident lawyers. I’m starting to compile my materials on the basics of teaching new lawyers who are not yet familiar with trucking litigation, as well as helping more experienced lawyers with some common defense traps and tips on how to represent injured clients better.

I will be posting a series of blogs on this. The first one here may sound like it comes out of a Chinese fortune cookie, but it is true nonetheless. It may sound funny or odd, but to successfully litigate a truck accident, the first place to start is at the end.

What I mean is that it can be tempting to assume that a large truck accident case will settle. While most serious commercial truck accident lawsuits do settle at some point, as do most civil cases in general, this assumption lends itself to laziness, lack of preparation and lower case values. And in trucking cases involving serious crashes, lack of discovery preparation into all the safety violations leading up to the crash means you are failing to represent your client by leaving potentially millions of dollars on the table.

From the first phone call from a prospective client, you must evaluate and prepare the case as if you’re taking it to trial. That means every safety violation must be uncovered.

If you don’t believe the truck accident lawsuit will succeed at trial, you should turn it down. I also represent a lot of truckers who get injured because sometimes people in cars do very foolish things around big trucks. It isn’t always the trucker who causes a wreck, and a no-liability case is still a no-liability case. Just because there is a big truck and a big insurance policy limit on that truck doesn’t mean you will get past negligence on the verdict form if the trucker did nothing wrong.

It’s my experience that trucking companies, especially large ones, know whether the case will be ready for trial. Starting with the end in mind really means having quality experts, detailed discovery and exhibits, deep knowledge of the trucking industry and past proven trial results. If the defense trucking company believes the truck accident attorney is fat and lazy, or hasn’t tried a case in 20 years, or hasn’t had a lot of experience with big commercial vehicle crashes, then watch out.

You – and especially your client – will not like the result.

– Steven Gursten is head of Michigan Auto Law and is regarded as one of the top truck accident lawyers in the country. He is past president of the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Lawyer Litigation Group, and was named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law for his work to promote national truck safety.

Related information to protect yourself:

Starting your Michigan truck accident investigation

Help for attorneys handling truck accident cases

Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Detroit. Call (248) 353-7575 to speak with one of our truck accident lawyers today.

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