Norfolk Truck Accident Lawyer

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Norfolk, VA Truck Accident Attorney

Truck accidents can often leave significant damage in their wake. The size and weight difference between trucks and every other vehicle on the road creates real danger for anyone involved. It’s critical that whoever is at fault for these kinds of accidents is held to account for all the costs that the accident creates.

A Norfolk truck accident lawyer can help victims seek restitution for their medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and psychological impacts.

At Whitlock Law, LLC, our primary caseload over the years has been various motor vehicle accidents, including truck accidents. This experience has given us a wide range of knowledge and understanding, which we are able to bring to our clients’ claims.

If a fair settlement with the insurance companies, which usually pay these claims, can be found, our firm knows how to obtain it. If it can’t be, then we are prepared to use our experience litigating these kinds of claims to your advantage.

What Does a Truck Accident Claim Compensate in Norfolk, VA?

Truck accident claims are types of personal injury claims in Norfolk, and a successful claim can secure compensation for all costs that are specified under personal injury law. This means that they will cover the costs that are a direct result of any injuries that were suffered in the accident.

One of the facts that we would need to prove in the course of a trial is that these costs are a direct result of the accident. This is typically done through the use of bills, receipts, and other documentation. Those costs are then compensated through different forms of damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are meant to cover those costs that are clearly addressed through monetary means. This includes the medical bills that are a result of the injuries, including:

  • Hospital stays
  • Doctors’ visits
  • Testing
  • Surgeries
  • Medication
  • Physical therapy

If the injured parties missed any work because of their injuries, that’s also compensated through these damages. Any property damage, primarily to the vehicle involved, is also addressed through economic damages.

In some cases, the injuries are severe enough that the costs may well extend into the future. If that is so, any future medical bills will be addressed through these damages. Additionally, if the injuries prevent someone from returning to work, or at least from returning at the same capacity as before, that lost earning capacity will also be compensated.

Non-Economic Damages

The damages that aren’t directly financial in nature are compensated through non-economic damages. This largely consists of costs like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, mental anguish, and other psychological and emotional costs. These are given a value and compensated through non-economic damages.

While these concerns aren’t solved by money, the compensation can act as an acknowledgment of what the injured party suffered. It also may reduce stresses in other aspects of life, which may have an indirect impact on your ability to manage and live with these issues.

Punitive Damages

Although it is not likely in most truck accidents, punitive damages could possibly be awarded. They do not compensate for the costs that you’ve incurred. Instead, they are intended to punish the defendant and deter certain behavior.

These damages, though, are only awarded when the court believes that there was something malicious, ill-intentioned, or otherwise egregious about the defendant’s behavior. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you understand if there is a possibility for punitive damages in your claim.

Will Contributory Negligence Impact My Claim in Norfolk?

If the claim goes to court in Norfolk, VA, it is possible that contributory negligence could impact the compensation that you receive. These are rules that are applied to personal injury claims. They will allow the defendant the opportunity to argue that the plaintiff was negligent in a way that at least contributed to the accident and the injuries that were suffered.

In most states, personal injury claims operate under comparative negligence. When this is successfully proven, the plaintiff will still be able to collect damages, though they will be reduced proportionately to their share of fault.

In Virginia, though, contributory negligence rules are used. If a plaintiff is found even minimally at fault, it could prevent them from collecting any damages at all.

The potential impact of contributory negligence is one of the most important parts of a trial that truck accident lawyers prepare for. We need to consider how the defendant may argue for negligence on your part and how we may be able to defend against that accusation.

Is It Better to Settle a Claim or Go to Court?

You may need to decide, in the course of seeking compensation for a truck accident in Norfolk, whether you would rather settle a claim or take it to court. Generally, a settlement may result in a little bit less compensation than if a court case went absolutely perfectly.

However, there are still some significant benefits to a settlement that may be worth considering.

Saves Time

One benefit of settling a claim that can be important for some people is the element of time. Taking a case to court can often mean engaging in a lengthy process. It’s not uncommon for some court cases to last for months and even years.

When settling, though, the timeline is largely determined by how agreeable and motivated both parties are to get a deal done. The funds are paid out according to the agreement, and plaintiffs often receive them within 30 days of the deal being finalized.

Reduces Risk

Perhaps the most important reason to consider a settlement is that it negates the element of risk. While it’s true that a trial could maximize the potential payout that you receive, you could also receive much less than you need or even nothing under contributory negligence rules. A settlement, however, guarantees that you will receive whatever was agreed to by both parties.

What Does a Norfolk Truck Accident Lawyer Do?

A truck accident lawyer in Norfolk is responsible for seeking fair compensation for their clients. This may be done through a settlement or through civil litigation.

However, before either of those processes can begin, we need to take on another important task.

Investigating the Accident

Truck accidents are complex, and there are a number of different parties that could potentially be liable for the injuries they cause. It would be an unnecessary waste of time and resources to pursue compensation from those who aren’t responsible, so the chief purpose of the investigation is to understand which parties may have been responsible for causing the accident in Norfolk city.

Another part of the investigation involves gathering evidence that can be helpful in proving the liability of those parties at fault. Evidence like police reports, documentation of the scene of the accident, and eyewitness accounts could all be helpful in proving liability.

We can also look for evidence that could be helpful in avoiding contributory negligence claims as well, so we must consider how the defendant might argue that you’re at fault and look for evidence to defend against that.

Negotiating a Settlement

Before taking a claim to court, it generally makes sense for both parties to see if there is a possibility of negotiating a settlement. When we negotiate for our clients, the insurance companies that are likely on the other side of the case will likely take the process more seriously.

They realize that, with our experience in these negotiations, any attempt to make unreasonable offers would be pointless.

Our involvement in negotiations also signals how serious you are about getting fair compensation. With a lawyer’s presence, the possibility of going to trial is clear. If they want to avoid that outcome, this could lead to a more urgent and fair negotiation stance on their part.

Litigating the Claim

Settlements aren’t always possible in every case. There are some situations where it may be necessary to take the claim to court to get proper restitution for the accident. If that should be the route your claim goes, we can use our years of experience in litigating these kinds of cases to benefit your claim.

We understand the process and what the court is looking for, both when proving liability on the part of the defendant and defending against any claims that you were at fault as well.

Who Could Be Liable in a Norfolk Truck Accident Claim?

Trucking operations are complex, and there can be a number of different parties that have some connection to any single truck on the road. As a result, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which parties were at fault for an accident.

Certainly, the truck driver may be the liable party in many situations, but there is also a chance that other parties may have contributed or even been entirely at fault for an accident. Some of the parties that could potentially be liable include:

  • The Truck Driver: In most accidents, the truck driver is likely to be at least partially responsible for the accident. Typically, this is because of a failure to follow a traffic law or otherwise drive safely. It’s worth noting, too, that truck drivers are subject to specific regulations regarding sleep and rest time, and failing to properly follow these regulations could result in their being found at fault.
  • The Driver’s Employer: Employers are often responsible for the actions of their employees, and this could be the case in some trucking accidents. This is especially likely if it can be shown that an employer’s policy, such as unreasonable delivery schedules, could have led a driver to make more risky choices to meet their employer’s expectations.
  • Another Driver: Sometimes, another driver who was directly involved in the collision could be at fault. It could also be that a driver who was not in the accident caused the collision by forcing others to evade their reckless driving.
  • The Freight Owner: The owner of the truck’s freight may have made the possibility of an accident more likely or the danger of one more significant, such as by failing to disclose hazardous material. If this is the case, then they may be liable for the accident and any damages caused by their freight.
  • The Loading Company: It’s important that all freight, particularly in a full truck, be balanced properly and distributed correctly. Failing to do so could make the risk of a truck accident, like a rollover or jackknife, more likely.
  • The Shipping Company: The shipping company could also mishandle, mispackage, or misidentify freight in a way that creates a greater risk of an accident, making them potentially liable.
  • The Government: When an issue with the roads, signs, or traffic lights leads to an accident, it could be that the government responsible for their installation and maintenance is the liable party.
  • A Parts Manufacturer: Occasionally, there is a defective or malfunctioning part that can cause an accident. If the part had been maintained and installed as it is meant to have been, then the manufacturer could be held liable for the impact of the failed part.
  • A Maintenance Provider: It’s critical that proper maintenance, repairs, and parts installation be done on trucks. A maintenance provider who failed to provide these, according to their agreement to do so, may be liable if their doing so would have prevented an accident.

How Is Fault in a Norfolk Truck Accident Claim Proven?

Proving fault in a truck accident claim will require your lawyer to use the evidence from their investigation to show that the defendant was negligent in a way that created your injuries.

This generally involves proving the three components of negligence:

Duty of Care

A duty of care is the idea that we are responsible for taking reasonable precautions to reduce any foreseeable risk to others that may arise as a result of our actions. This duty is understood to be civilly owed to others in our society.

Generally, because trucks have such a potential element of danger if there is an accident of some kind, it’s easy to make it clear to the court that the defendant had a duty of care in any case that involved a truck accident.

Breach of Duty

This occurs when someone fails to meet the duty of care that they were meant to demonstrate in a given situation. However, the specific nature of the breach will be determined by the details of your truck accident.

Your lawyer is responsible for both demonstrating what the defendant did in a given situation and explaining why those actions caused a breach. On some occasions, this could require bringing in an expert witness, who is able to describe the nature of a complex breach of duty for the court.

Cause of Injury

Finally, the breach must be directly responsible for the injuries that you’ve suffered. Because the injuries were caused by a truck accident, this may mean first demonstrating that the breach caused the accident. There are times when a breach doesn’t cause an accident. For example, not following sleep regulations, while a breach, is not to blame if a truck is rear-ended from behind.

Once the breach and accident connection is shown, it must be demonstrated how the injuries were the result of the accident and not pre-existing or unrelated issues.

What Should I Do After a Truck Accident in Norfolk?

After a truck accident, you should immediately get a full medical examination. This includes being looked over by the paramedics at the scene of the accident. However, your own doctor should also give you a full examination if you are cleared at the scene. Some injuries aren’t noticed until after the accident, when the shock of the moment wears off.

If your injuries allow for it, documenting the scene of the accident may be helpful to later recreate what occurred for the court. This includes photos and videos of:

  • Vehicles
  • Damage
  • Injuries
  • Roadside signs
  • Traffic lights
  • Anything else that may have contributed to the accident occurring

You may also want to get the contact information of the other drivers involved in the accident, along with that of any eyewitnesses who saw what happened.

Be sure to continue documenting the costs that you face as a result of the accident, as they may be helpful in getting proper compensation.

Seek Compensation With a Norfolk Truck Accident Lawyer

The costs of a truck accident are steep. The risk of significant injuries, in particular, is much higher than in a standard car accident in Norfolk. The injured and their families often face:

  • A pile of medical bills
  • Damage to their vehicle that needs repairs or replacement
  • Possible lost wages from missed work
  • Any number of psychological costs

A Norfolk truck accident lawyer, like the one at Whitlock Law, LLC, may be able to help you recover compensation for the costs of your injuries if you’ve been in a truck accident. We have experience working with insurance companies, allowing us to reach settlements that get families the fair restitution that they need.

However, we can also take the tough approach in court if necessary. If you are ready to discuss your options after a truck accident, contact us today.

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