Norfolk, VA Truck Accident Lawyer
Commercial trucks cruise Interstate Highway 564, I-64 and I-264 like behemoths, dwarfing other vehicles around them. With the port, big rigs roll down Hampton Boulevard and Military Highway too. When a tractor-trailer causes an accident, cars, SUVs and even smaller trucks can be crushed, often seriously injuring the people inside. It can be frightening to even think about the potential damages when a truck collides with a bicycle or pedestrian.
While we rely on trucks to transport needed goods, we also rely on the owners and operators of those trucks to drive responsibly and protect those around from undue risk of harm. When a truck driver or trucking company owner fails to live up to that responsibility, they may be held liable for the consequences.
If you suffered injuries in a wreck with an 18-wheeler, a knowledgeable Norfolk truck accident lawyer could provide assistance in a number of ways. Call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers to see what one of our dedicated and focused personal injury attorneys could do for you.
How Do Truck Accidents Differ from Other Motor Vehicle Crashes?
While many attorneys in Norfolk have handled car crash cases, there are several factors that make truck accidents unique. Aside from the different physical dangers 18-wheeler crashes present when compared to car accidents, trucks are subject to federal, state and local regulations that do not apply to other vehicles, and violation of these regulations frequently come into play in tractor-trailer accident cases. Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers regularly represents clients hurt in truck accident, and we know the rules that apply to commercial drivers.
Because most trucks are commercial vehicles, several parties may potentially be involved in a lawsuit stemming from a truck accident, including the driver, owner, manufacturer, freight broker, shipper, and maintenance company for the truck. Furthermore, each party may have different insurance providers involved in the lawsuit as well, each of whom is likely to fight tooth and nail to keep you from recovering the compensation to which you are entitled. If you are injured by an 18-wheeler in Norfolk, it is critical to work with an attorney experienced in evaluating truck accident situations.
How a Tractor-Trailer Wreck Attorney in Norfolk Can Help
You may only think of contacting a lawyer in Norfolk when you realize you need to file a truck accident lawsuit against a trucker or their employer. However, an experienced truck crash attorney could provide critical assistance from the very beginning of this legal matter. In fact, when an 18-wheeler causes someone to suffer an injury, the lawyers and insurance company investigators are at the scene immediately, so you need to match that power with your own legal team.
A tractor-trailer accident attorney from Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers can listen to your side of the story and evaluate the situation to determine whether it may be possible to obtain compensation. We can also explain your options for obtaining recovery and assess the pros and cons of each potential path to do so. We charge no up-front fee in our initial consultations about truck accidents and injuries.
Advocating on Behalf of the Injured Parties After a Crash with an 18-Wheeler
When you are asked to answer questions or make statements to insurance companies or investigators, an attorney can advocate on your behalf or provide advice on how to respond to best preserve the right to recovery. Insurance companies are never on your side and almost always looking to minimize the damages their clients owe you, so taking certain actions or making the wrong type of statements can cause problems later. Because of this, it is best to obtain quality legal advice right from the start of your case. If you or a loved one is seriously hurt in a tractor-trailer wreck, we will want to get our experts to the scene ASAP.
Evaluating Truck Accident Settlement Offers
If an insurance company or defendant makes you an offer of compensation to settle your truck accident case out of court, your Norfolk attorney could calculate the economic costs and assess non-economic harm such as pain and suffering. It is important to determine whether an offer fairly compensates you for the consequences of the wreck with the 18-wheeler, for the rest of your life—and if it does not, to reject it and demand a better one.
Uncovering and Using Evidence
At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, we have an experienced group of our own investigators and experts ready to get to the scene right away after a truck collision. We know how to interview the police, download the black box data, and get access to the commercial vehicle involved.
What Makes Someone Liable for a Truck Wreck?
Commercial truck drivers in Norfolk have the same “duty of care” as all other motorists on public roads. This is an implicit or explicit responsibility to act a certain way under certain circumstances to minimize the risk of anyone getting hurt. This duty requires them to obey traffic laws, watch out for vehicles, people, and obstacles nearby, and respond to any hazards in reasonable ways.
A trucker can be considered legally negligent if:
- They violate their “duty” by acting carelessly, recklessly, or illegally
- Their “breach of duty” is the direct and primary cause of an accident; and
- The accident results in any physical injury requiring professional medical attention
Negligence is the basis for most successful personal injury lawsuits. A trucking company that irresponsibly hires an unqualified driver or forces their employees to violate federal trucking laws can also be considered negligent, making them liable for their own or their employee’s actions.
Recoverable Damages from a Truck Accident Lawsuit
A person responsible for causing a truck wreck through negligence can be held accountable to pay for all past and future consequences of the wreck. This includes both economic and non-economic forms of harm like:
- Emergency medical expenses, plus costs of future treatment and rehabilitative care
- Vehicle repair/replacement costs, plus related expenses like rental car fees
- Out-of-pocket expenses made necessary by permanent disability, like in-home assistance or home modifications
- Lost working and earning capacity
- Physical pain from injuries
- Emotional and psychological trauma from the accident
- Lost enjoyment/quality of life
In rare situations where a defendant demonstrated “conscious disregard for the safety of others” through intentionally malicious or egregiously negligent conduct, a court may impose up to $350,000 in punitive damages. This is in addition to compensatory losses, as a Norfolk truck crash attorney can further explain.
How State Law Could Impact Recovery Efforts
One important thing to know about truck accident litigation in Virginia is how state courts deal with “contributory negligence.” This is the degree to which you bear liability for causing or worsening your own personal injuries through your own negligent conduct. Court precedent in Virginia holds that anyone found at all to blame for any portion of their own civil damages is ineligible to receive any civil compensation whatsoever, even if someone else was primarily at fault for those losses.
Additionally, under Code of Virginia §8.01-243, you typically have two years after a truck accident to start a civil lawsuit. Missing this filing deadline will almost always leave you with no means of recovering compensation for your injuries, even if someone else was at fault. Support from a seasoned truck accident lawyer in Norfolk, VA can be vital to navigating these and other legal roadblocks.
Talking to a Norfolk Truck Accident Attorney
If you are suffering from injuries incurred in a truck accident, your number one priority should be to protect your health by getting needed medical care. However, it is also wise to consider early on the future ramifications of your accident and their associated costs. A seasoned Norfolk truck accident lawyer could help make sure you protect your future and get full compensation, especially for permanent injuries.
While you focus on obtaining medical care and following your doctor’s instructions, the team at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers could field questions and handle the insurance issues arising from your accident with a commercial vehicle. To learn how we could assist in your case, call us now to set up an initial meeting. We are ready to come to your hospital bed if needed.