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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.
West Virginia laws 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 catastrophic injuries in a truck accident, including tri-axle trucks, natural gas trucks, or logging trucks, contact us to arrange a free initial consultation with our trucking accident lawyers.
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 truck accident claim with the insurance company. Unfortunately, the laws surrounding large commercial trucks are complex, and, therefore, you might be losing your legal 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 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 trucking 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.
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 insurance 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 motor vehicle accident attorneys at the Manchin Injury Law Group, PLLC have been negotiating with these companies for decades and know exactly what your insurance claim is worth.
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.
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.
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 an accident lawsuit altogether. To avoid this scenario, we recommend meeting with a Grafton personal injury attorney from our law firm as soon as possible following a truck accident.
Commercial motor vehicle accident claims have noticeable differences compared to accidents involving passenger vehicles:
West Virginia has 549 miles of interstate and 37,277 miles of public roads. Commercial truck drivers 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 car 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.
Truck accident injuries are often serious and can be fatal. While serious 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 trucking accidents.
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.
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.
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.
Unfortunately, burn injuries are more common in trucking accidents than they are in crashes involving passenger vehicles. Tractor-trailer 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.
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.
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 wrongful death claim on the deceased’s behalf.
The majority of truck accidents are due to commercial truck driver error, though there are often many factors at play. The following may play a role in a serious truck accident:
Commercial truck drivers are ten times more likely to be the main cause of a trucking 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 wrecks is truck driver fatigue, according to the FMCSA.
The second leading cause of truck crashes is equipment failure. This is a broad category that can include mistakes in manufacturing (such as defective parts, like 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:
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:
Federal law holds trucking companies responsible for their tractor-trailer 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.
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 trucking industry standards. This includes daily inspections and repairs. Anything less could make the truck unsafe for operation.
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 Fairmont, WV truck accident attorney about your case for more specific information on who the defendant(s) might be in your case.
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 trucking 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 tractor-trailer 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 truck 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 trucking accident lawyers at Manchin Injury Law Group.
Large trucks and buses have something called a No Zone, or dangerous blind spots. Trucking 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; 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 wreck.
If you or a loved one recently suffered harm in a crash with a commercial motor vehicle, you may be able to collect fair 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 accident victims find peace of mind and financial security. To schedule a free initial consultation about your legal case with our personal injury lawyers in Fairmont, please contact us.
Our law firm proudly provides legal services to clients all over the state of West Virginia. Areas we service include Charleston, Fairmont, Morganstown, and Huntington.