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West Virginia Truck Accident Attorney

The West Virginia truck accident attorneys at the Manchin Injury Law Group, PLLC have been helping victims of truck accidents in Fairmont and throughout the state sue at-fault parties for 37 years. We treat every client who walks into our doors like a member of the family. We also treat your case with the utmost attention, respect, and dedication.

The laws of West Virginia allow victims of commercial vehicle accidents to collect compensation for their injuries to cover medical expenses, lost wages, loss of life quality, and even the pain associated with your recovery. These laws are complex and navigating them successfully, therefore, requires the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney in West Virginia.

While many of our cases ultimately settle out of court, we presume and prepare as if your case is going to trial – we collect forensic evidence, review police reports, identify logbook violations, and gather eyewitness testimony to strengthen your case for a jury. If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a truck accident, including tri-axle trucks, natural gas trucks, or logging truckscontact us to arrange a free initial consultation with our West Virginia truck accident lawyers.

Content:

Why You Need a West Virginia Truck Accident Lawyer

If you were recently involved in a commercial motor vehicle collision, then you might assume that collecting payment for your injuries is as simple as filing a claim with the insurance company. Unfortunately, the laws surrounding commercial motor vehicles are complex, and, therefore, you might be losing your right to full compensation if you pursue these claims yourself. There are several reasons why you need the experienced hand of a West Virginia truck accident attorney:

You might not know what your claim is worth.

You might know that you can collect compensation for your medical bills, but did you know there are several other damages available to you under West Virginia law? Your claim might be worth more than you think – you may be entitled to collect reimbursement for lost wages, the cost of your therapy, or even your physical pain or emotional anguish. If a truck accident leads to yours or a loved one’s incapacity, your family members may be able to collect damages for ongoing medical expenses or skilled nursing care as well.

Insurance companies are expert negotiators.

Attempting to negotiate a settlement with an insurance company yourself might lead to a low-ball offer. Insurance companies are committed to paying out as little on your claim as possible – they might even try to intimidate you into signing papers that don’t reflect the full extent of your injuries. The West Virginia truck accident attorneys at the Manchin Injury Law Group, PLLC have been negotiating with these companies for decades and know exactly what your claim is worth.

Truck accident liability is very complex.

Truck crashes can be a matter of both state and federal law. Commercial motor vehicle drivers, owners, and operators must follow strict guidelines set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Commission. Failing to follow these rules could result in violation of federal law and is usually grounds for negligence. Retaining a West Virginia truck accident attorney familiar with these rules is essential to protecting your right to compensation.

An attorney can take your case to court.

The majority of truck accident cases settle out of court, as this is a speedier and less costly solution. However, large corporations and trucking companies might not want to budge on their initial offer, which means you can take your case to court and let a jury award damages in your case.

An attorney can help you follow the necessary procedures and rules.

Filing a truck accident claim requires that you follow certain filing procedures within certain time limits. If you fail to adhere to these administrative rules, you could lose your right to file a lawsuit altogether. To avoid this scenario, we recommend meeting with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following a truck accident.

How are Truck Accidents and Claims Different than Passenger Vehicle Claims?

Commercial motor vehicle accident claims have noticeable differences compared to accidents involving passenger vehicles:

  • The claims are larger. Semis can weigh 80,000 pounds or more, while the average car only weighs about 3,000. Injuries resulting from these accidents are much more severe, and truck accidents are more likely to lead to fatalities. Therefore, the costs of medical care, final expenses, lost wages, and suffering are much higher, leading to larger claims.
  • The causes are different. Many car crashes result from driver inattention, but semis have other issues at play – like blind spots, slower braking and acceleration, and improper loading.
  • Liability is more complex. There may be several parties at play during a truck accident claim, from the driver’s employer to the loading company and even the manufacturer of the truck itself.
  • Investigations are different. Investigating liability in a truck accident scenario involves understanding the guidelines set forth by the FMCSA and determining if the truck’s records comply with these guidelines. This requires an in-depth knowledge of federal truck regulations.

West Virginia Truck Accident Statistics

West Virginia has 549 miles of interstate and 37,277 miles of public roads. Commercial vehicle operators from all over the country use these roads to deliver goods and take other away, driving our local economy. Unfortunately, this activity also leads to fatalities and injury. Hospitals and other medical responders reported 51 fatalities in West Virginia in 2015 from truck collisions. There were also 957 non-fatal truck accidents that year. The majority of these accidents (88%) occur on West Virginia’s rural roads, with just 11% occurring in urban areas.

Around 5,000 trucks are involved in fatal traffic collisions each year, and tractor-trailers are the most common source of accidents. Over half of West Virginia’s truck crashes involve carriers who operate out of the state. This means that filing a commercial motor vehicle accident claim involves both interstate and federal laws.

Common Truck Accident Injuries

Truck accident injuries are often serious and can be fatal. While injuries run the gamut from whiplash to permanently disabling afflictions, some accidents are more common than others. Here are a few of the most common injuries we see from truck accidents.

Spinal Cord Injuries and Traumatic Brain Injury

Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of fatal brain injury nationwide. Injuries affecting the brain and spinal cord can result in paraplegia or quadriplegia, loss of sensation or movement, paralysis, or more. These injuries often require long-term medical care and assistance.

Fractures

Broken bones can be complex and require surgical repair. Breaking large bones requires hard casting that may keep you from your livelihood while you recover.

Internal Organ Damage

The force of a truck accident impact can lead to internal system damage like collapsed lungs, organ bruising, or perforation, which can be fatal without immediate medical intervention.

Burns

Unfortunately, burns are more common in truck accidents than they are in crashes involving passenger vehicles. Trucks may carry volatile materials, and there is also a greater risk of rupturing a car’s fuel tank from the impact, which can lead to vehicle fires. Burns require a long recovery time and can be extremely painful.

Airbag or Seatbelt Injuries

You’re much more likely to survive a truck accident when using safety measures like airbags and seatbelts. Unfortunately, the sheer force of these collisions can lead to injuries caused by these devices. Airbag deployment can cause concussions, and seatbelts can cause injuries to the shoulder or torso.

Wrongful Death

Unfortunately, crashes involving commercial motor vehicles are more likely to result in a fatality. The massive force of the impact, potential for fire, and other factors greatly increase the risk for catastrophic or fatal injury. West Virginia law, therefore, considers such incidents as “wrongful death,” and the victim’s family could be eligible pursue a claim on the deceased’s behalf.

Common Causes of Trucking Accidents in West Virginia

The majority of truck accidents are due to driver error, though there are often many factors at play. The following may play a role in a serious truck accident:

Accidents Resulting from Driver Error

Drivers of large trucks are ten times more likely to be the main cause of a truck accident than any other factors like inclement weather, vehicle performance, or road conditions, according to a recent study from the FMCSA. In fact, a driver’s action or inaction was responsible for a whopping 88% of all reported truck crashes.

Some of the most common culprits leading to driver error include abuse of prescription or non-prescription drugs, violating traffic laws, distraction, and unfamiliarity with the geographical area. However, the leading cause of truck accidents due to driver error is fatigue, according to the FMCSA.

Equipment Failure

The second leading cause of truck crashes is equipment failure. This is a broad category that can include mistakes in manufacturing (such as defective tires prone to blowout) to maintenance. These failures can be a simple matter of oversight (failing to check tire pressure or adjust brakes) or gross misconduct (removing front brakes to go faster, but leads to jackknifing). Some of the most common types of equipment failure include:

  • Tire blowout
  • Brake failure
  • Lack of vehicle control from improper load distribution (one of the most common causes of rollover)
  • Defective lighting or backup warning systems
  • Transmission failure
  • Issues with steering

Who Is Liable for a Trucking Accident in West Virginia?

The liable party for a trucking accident in West Virginia is the one legally responsible for paying damages. The liable party is the person or entity that caused the trucking accident due to his or her negligence. Many cases involve more than one liable party sharing fault for the incident, such as a trucking company for improperly training the driver and a product manufacturer for producing bad brakes. The following parties could all be potential defendants in a truck accident claim:

Truck Company

Federal law holds trucking companies responsible for their trucks and drivers, even if the drivers are independent contractors and the company leases trucks from other owners. Trucking companies will be vicariously liable for the actions of their employees, such as negligent drivers or cargo loaders. The company will also be liable for its own acts of negligence, such as pressuring drivers to meet deadlines or failing to adequately maintain its fleet.

Truck Owner or Leasing Company

If the large truck experienced part failure that stems from lack of proper vehicle maintenance, the owner of the truck and/or the leasing company could then be held liable. The vehicle’s owner is the party with the duty to maintain the truck according to accepted industry standards. This includes daily inspections and repairs. Anything less could make the truck unsafe for operation.

Part Manufacturer

Defective truck parts such as bad brakes or tires that blow out too easily can come down to manufacturer liability. Product manufacturers have a duty to test and ensure the safety of their vehicle parts before releasing them to market. Truck parts with design defects, manufacturing errors, or marketing flaws can be unreasonably dangerous to install on large trucks. Part malfunctions during trips can cause fatal traffic accidents.

Determining liability can be difficult in a truck accident claim. Several different parties could take or share responsibility for causing the wreck. Parties could include drivers, cargo loaders, maintenance companies, and management companies. It’s important to talk to an experienced West Virginia truck accident attorney about your case for more specific information on who the defendant(s) might be in your case.

The Role of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in a West Virginia Truck Accident

The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) presides over the commercial truck and bus industry in America. The FMCSA enacts regulations that all trucking companies must obey. These regulations set standards for all aspects of the industry, from how heavy large trucks can be to the actions drivers must take each day to ensure the safety of road trips.

After a trucking accident in West Virginia, investigators will check to see if the truck driver, company, and other parties obeyed all applicable FMCSA rules and regulations. A violation of a federal rule could be the demonstration of negligence the accident victim needs to prove the defendant’s fault and liability. Learn more about how federal laws could affect your accident case by contacting the West Virginia trucking accident lawyers at Manchin Injury Law Group.

What Is a No Zone?

Large trucks and buses have something called a No Zone, or dangerous blind spots. Truck accidents are more likely to occur if a passenger vehicle is driving in the truck’s No Zone, because the truck driver cannot see the smaller car. No Zones are on all sides of a truck and bus. Other drivers should stay at least 30 feet from the back of a truck, 20 feet from the front, one lane away from the truck’s left side, and two lanes away from the truck’s right side. This will keep the vehicle out of the truck’s No Zone.

If you must pass through a No Zone, do so quickly. Avoid hovering in a dangerous blind spot for longer than is necessary. Never pass a large truck on its right side, as the driver will not be able to see you most of the time. Do not force a large truck to slam on its brakes, as the truck cannot stop as quickly. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t see the truck or bus driver’s mirrors, the driver can’t see you. Avoid No Zones as much as possible to reduce your risk of a truck accident.

Your West Virginia Truck Accident Attorneys

If you or a loved one recently suffered harm in a crash with a commercial motor vehicle, you may be able to collect compensation for the full extent of your medical costs, lost wages, and loss in life quality. The West Virginia truck accident attorneys at the Manchin Injury Law Group, PLLC are committed to helping victims of negligence. We want to help victims find peace of mind and financial security. To schedule a free initial consultation with our personal injury lawyers in Fairmont, please contact us.

We proudly serve clients all over the state of West Virginia, including Charleston, Fairmont, Morganstown, and Huntington.