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Teaching Car Accident Lawyers to be Trucking Lawyers

July 22, 2016 by Steven M. Gursten

Attorney Tom James of Michigan Auto Law will share his tips for lawyers on what makes truck accident cases so different at American Association for Justice 2016 Annual Convention this week

Video thumbnail for Thomas W. James - Auto Accident Attorney - Michigan Auto Law

Tom James will share tips for “car accident lawyers” looking to take on large trucking cases during the American Association for Justice 2016 Annual Convention in Los Angeles, CA this week. Tom will be speaking at the Motor Vehicle Accident Litigation track, and hopes to help lawyers avoid many of the common mistakes that are made when so-called car accident lawyers try to handle their first big truck accident case.

Tom’s presentation is called, “Truck accident litigation for the car crash lawyer.”

The critical point is that when taking on serious truck wreck or bus accident injury case, many injury attorneys make the grave mistake of handling them like car accident lawsuits, but with bigger insurance policy limits. These lawyers make the glaring error of not doing aggressive legal discovery to uncover the violations that leads to a crash. These lawyers are not reviewing driver logs and trip and fuel receipts to show fatigue and hours of service violations, and they’re not taking depositions of management and safety directors to show what the company both knew and permitted.

In turn, many of the glaring abuses and safety violations of motor carriers remain hidden and a lot of money for seriously injured clients is left on the table. This can often be the difference between a legal settlement that can protect a client for life, and a settlement that will prove far inadequate for the challenges your clients will now face.

The conference runs July 22 to the 26, and Tom will be addressing the Motor Vehicle Collision Litigation track. Steve Gursten will also be speaking on Saturday during the Truck Accident Litigation track on ways for lawyers to settle truck accident cases for more money.

Recipe for increasing the chances of success in trucking accident cases

Tom says winning truck wreck cases is not easy, requires specific industry knowledge and hard work. Since we’re not all born with this knowledge, we have to be honest with ourselves and know when we need to ask for help. Tom will be sharing information that he’s acquired over the years from other presentations, attorneys and personal experience on what concepts, tactics and techniques have worked — and what has not.

Here are a few truck litigation tips he plans to share:

  1. Get admitted to federal court now.
  2. Truck collisions are not just bigger auto collision cases.
  3. Truckers require special training and testing to obtain their CDL.
  4. Don’t focus on the driver when the truck company was negligent.
  5. Know your limitations and get help when you need it.
  6. Truck companies rapidly deploy defense attorneys, insurance adjusters and investigators to the scene of the wreck to minimize liability. Evidence can get lost of you don’t act quickly.
  7. Focus groups work.
  8. “You might be smarter than me, but you will never outwork me.”

And a few final tidbits from Tom:

  • Don’t overlook those simple fixes that could’ve made a difference. For instance, a $29.99 front fender mirror could have save the truck accident victim’s life.
  • Photographs reveal more than the obvious. So use them at trial.
  • A messy drive equals a negligent driver.
  • The scene of the collision can reveal “Reptile” dangers.
  • FOIA or request traffic camera videos.
  • FOIA the local Department of Transportation.
  • FOIA 9-1-1 calls.
  • Even in admitted liability situations, obtain the 9-1-1 calls.
  • Check the defendant on social media.
  • Use the press to find additional witnesses.

For more information and to register for the American Association for Justice Annual Convention, visit www.justiceannualconvention.org. During the convention, accomplished trial lawyers and experts will discuss the latest developments in trial advocacy and specialized topics at nearly 40 cutting-edge Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs designed to help attorneys better represent their injury clients.

The American Association for Justice is the nation’s largest association of advocates serving the needs of personal injury victims, with more than 50,000 lawyer members. Michigan Auto Law has been a long-standing member, contributor and lecturer to the organization.


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