Semi-trucks are necessary to our way of living. As recent supply chain problems demonstrate, we heavily rely on 18 wheelers to get goods across the nation. Yet – as West Virginians know all too well – they are also incredibly dangerous.
When you’re in an accident with a tractor-trailer, the potential for catastrophic injuries is huge. If an 18 wheeler accident was caused by the truck driver, then you may be able to file a claim for monetary compensation with the insurance company. Through a semi-truck accident lawsuit, you can recover money for your lost wages, property damage, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses.
At Johnstone & Gabhart, we understand how devastating any type of accident can be. We are dedicated to helping injury victims get the compensation that they deserve for their losses. Our law firm offers free initial consultations, and we never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.
How Common Are 18 Wheeler Accidents in WV?
If you live in West Virginia, then you are familiar with our gorgeous natural scenery. Known as the Mountain State, WV is famed for its rugged terrain. While these mountains create stunning landscapes and incredible opportunities for outdoor recreation, they also lead to some of the most dangerous roads in the country.
This is particularly true when it comes to semi truck accidents. West Virginia ranks among the top 5 deadliest states for 18 wheeler accidents for a reason. According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2019 alone, 43 people were killed in fatal semi truck accidents in West Virginia.
West Virginia has a particularly high rate of fatal 18 wheeler crashes when considered in light of its relatively small population. For every 1,000,000 people, West Virginia has an average of 20.65 fatal tractor trailer accidents. By comparison to neighboring states like Pennsylvania (10.08 accidents per million people) and Ohio (13.0 per million), West Virginia has a particularly high rate of fatal accidents involving semi trucks.
There are many potential causes of 18 wheeler accidents. Per a FMCSA report, in collisions involving commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, 55% of the crashes were attributed to the semi truck. Common reasons for these accidents include:
- Making illegal maneuver
- Inadequate surveillance
- Traveling too fast for conditions
- Following too close
- Misjudgment of gap or other’s speed
- Stop required before the crash
- External distraction
- Brake problems
- Truck driver fatigue
If you were hurt in an 18 wheeler accident, then you may be able to file a lawsuit against the trucking companies, their insurer, and any other responsible parties. A skilled 18 wheeler accident lawyer can help you with the process.
When to Hire an 18 Wheeler Accident Lawyer
In West Virginia, personal injury claims are most often based on a theory of negligence. Generally, negligence is the failure to use the level of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation. A driver can be negligent in any number of ways, from driving too fast for weather conditions to running a stop sign to simply not paying attention.
When it comes to 18 wheeler accidents, there are other ways that a driver or trucking company may be negligent. Semi trucks are subject to strict federal and state regulations that cover everything from how many hours they can be on the road (hours of service) to how a commercial truck must be inspected before a driver gets behind the wheel. When truck drivers or trucking companies violate these rules, it can lead to a serious accident.
For example, if an 18 wheeler experiences a tire blowout, the truck driver might lose control of their vehicle and debris might fly from the vehicle. Tire blowouts are often the result of safety issues, like an overloaded vehicle, improper tire pressure, worn tires, or improperly installed tires. In this situation, the trucking company may be held liable for any violations of the law related to tire safety.
If you have been hurt in a semi truck crash, then you should reach out to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. A West Virginia 18 wheeler accident lawyer will thoroughly examine every aspect of your case to determine who may be liable for your injuries. They will work hard to make sure that you get every dollar that you are entitled to under the law, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
After a tractor trailer accident, you may be approached by an insurance company. The insurance adjuster may offer you a settlement, and tell you that they accept full responsibility for the crash. It may be tempting to simply take the check and sign whatever paperwork the adjuster offers – but it is usually a bad idea.
The trucking company and its insurer don’t have your best interests at heart. Instead, their goal is to protect their bottom line. As a semi truck accident victim, the best way to protect your legal rights and to make sure that you get maximum compensation is to consult with an 18 wheeler accident attorney or a West Virginia truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Your attorney will take on the burden of communicating with the insurance company and negotiating a fair settlement for your injuries. They will also make sure that your claim is filed within West Virginia’s statute of limitations, and that all liable parties are held responsible for your losses. For these reasons, it is a good idea to reach out to a skilled semi truck accident attorney after any type of crash involving an 18 wheeler.
Benefits of Hiring an 18 Wheeler Accident Attorney
Any auto accident claim usually involves dealing with a major corporation – the insurance company representing the at-fault driver. But with semi truck crashes, you now have at least two huge companies: the trucking company and its insurance carrier. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney can help to level the playing field.
Your lawyer will begin the process by performing a thorough investigation into the tractor trailer crash. They’ll request a police report, review photos and videos of the accident scene, request information from the trucking company (like maintenance and hours of service logs), and obtain “black box” data from the commercial truck itself. At the same time, they will research case law to put together a strong claim for damages (financial compensation).
The average person wouldn’t know that this type of information is even available – let alone how to interpret it based on federal and state laws. This data can be incredibly important in proving that the commercial truck driver was responsible for the accident – and not you.
The trucking industry works hard to protect its own. Without a lawyer, you might not be able to get fair compensation for your injuries because you simply won’t have access to the information and the data that you need to build a strong case.
Similarly, a seasoned 18 wheeler accident attorney will use their knowledge and expertise to prove your damages. They will examine every aspect of your claim to prove that you are entitled to financial compensation for your broken bones, spinal cord injuries, emotional distress, or any other types of injuries. They will also gather documentation of your other losses, from reduced earning capacity to property damage to loss of enjoyment of life.
Studies show that people who are represented by legal counsel recover as much as 40% more in personal injury claims, compared to people who represent themselves. When it comes down to it, you can’t afford to not hire an attorney to handle your semi-truck accident claim.
Most personal injury law firms handle cases on a contingency fee basis. This is a type of fee arrangement where you pay nothing upfront, and only pay a fee if your attorney recovers money for you. There is no risk for you in hiring a tractor-trailer accident lawyer – and a huge potential benefit if you are able to receive a much higher settlement than you would have negotiated on your own.
How Our Lawyers Can Help
At Johnstone & Gabhart, we pride ourselves on being different from many personal injury lawyers. To start, we take a personalized approach to every single injury case. When you hire our firm, you won’t be treated like just a case number. You’ll get prompt responses to your questions, and individualized service.
We know that being in an accident can be incredibly traumatic. In each case, our goal is to treat our clients with the utmost compassion and respect – while getting them the most possible money for their injuries.
While our law firm focuses on personal injury law, our lawyers handle a range of different types of cases, including business law, estate law, and construction law. As such, our attorneys are able to consult with each other on topics related to each claim. This gives you the advantage of having a legal team with comprehensive knowledge across many different types of law.
We represent all injury victims on a contingency fee basis, and offer free initial consultations for all prospective clients. When you hire our law firm, you won’t pay us anything out of pocket – and you will only pay us a fee if we get money for you.
Finally, each of our attorneys are devoted to the people of West Virginia. We all live, work, and play here, and are proud to be West Virginians. From our law office in Charleston, WV, we help people throughout the state achieve justice.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Semi-Truck Accident Claim?
Each case is unique, and it can be hard to predict how long it will take to resolve your 18 wheeler accident claim. If the case is relatively straightforward and the at-fault party accepts liability, then it might settle within 6 months. However, if the trucking company contests driver negligence, then it may take a year or longer to resolve the claim.
In some cases, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit to get fair compensation for your semi truck wreck claim. With the help of experienced 18 wheeler accident lawyers, you can get top dollar for your claim – and get it settled as quickly as possible. Contact Johnstone & Gabhart today to schedule a free consultation.
What Is My 18 Wheeler Accident Case Worth?
The value of your tractor trailer crash case depends on a number of factors, such as how badly you were hurt, whether the trucking company accepts liability, and the limits of their insurance policy. For example, if you suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that leads to permanent disability, then you will probably recover more money than a person who broke their arm in a semi-truck crash.
During a free consultation, an 18 wheeler accident attorney will give you an estimate of the value of your case. As the claim progresses, this number may increase or decrease. To maximize your chances of getting full compensation, contact Johnstone & Gabhart today for a free initial consultation.
Do Semi Truck Accidents Go to Trial?
The majority of personal injury cases – including tractor-trailer accident claims – are resolved without going to trial. That being said, there may be situations where your best option is to file a lawsuit and take the trucking company to court, where your lawyer will ask a jury to return a verdict in your favor.
In some cases, the trucking company or their insurance carrier simply won’t offer you a settlement that fully covers your losses. Your attorney may recommend that you go to trial to achieve the best possible outcome. Reach out to Johnstone & Gabhart to learn more about how we can help you.
Injured in an 18 Wheeler Accident? Give Our Law Firm a Call.
Semi-truck crashes can cause devastating losses. If you have been hurt in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, we can help.
Johnstone & Gabhart represents clients throughout WV who have been injured in all types of accidents, including 18 wheeler accidents. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we get money for you. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a West Virginia injury lawyer, give us a call at 304-343-7100 or fill out our online contact form.