Helping The Victims Of Trucking Accidents In West Virginia
Unfortunately for drivers on West Virginia’s streets and highways, many trucking companies prioritize profits over the safety of their employees and other drivers and passengers, putting everyone in danger.
It is important to realize that trucking insurance companies have immense resources that they can and will use to try to deny payouts. An attorney is crucial in protecting your rights and helping you work toward the compensation you deserve.
Contact us if you are injured & would like to discuss either of the following situations:
Trucking Company Negligence
Trucking company negligence is often a fundamental cause of a truck accident. If you were injured or if a family member was killed in an 18-wheeler accident in West Virginia, Johnstone & Gabhart, LLP, can initiate an investigation to determine why the crash occurred. Was it because of faulty equipment, inadequate driver training, poor screening of candidates for truck driver positions, inadequate training, poor enforcement of industry, state or federal trucking safety regulations or poor truck maintenance practices?
A truck driver has responsibilities to ensure safe trucking practices, and so does the trucking company that employs him or her. If a truck was overloaded or if a truck driver drove too long without taking appropriate breaks, the trucking company may have had a key role in allowing these errors to occur. Failure to instruct and supervise truckers can result in such actions – and other motorists may pay the price.
Is there pressure in the trucking industry to lower standards to meet cargo delivery demands? If so, how do these conditions affect people traveling in cars and other vehicles alongside those the trucks? More importantly, what factors figured into the trucking accident that injured you or your family member? Was the truck that collided with your vehicle in West Virginia, Ohio or Kentucky too heavy for the road it was traveling on?
There are some circumstances when the company who hired the driver may be held liable for the damages caused in a trucking accident. Just a few examples include;
- Negligent hiring. The company may not have done a background check that would have revealed a poor driving history, perhaps even a drunk driving conviction.
- Negligently failed to train the driver for transporting the specific cargo. Liquid cargo has different loading requirements than non-liquid. Drivers must be specially trained to transport hazardous materials.
- Employer may have encouraged drowsy driving and fatigue by offering bonuses for cargo delivered quickly.
- Failed to properly maintain the truck.
Trucking Safety Violations
Large tractor-trailers are subject to numerous safety regulations that do not apply to smaller trucks and passenger vehicles. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, a key area of investigation is whether the trucking company or driver violated those safety regulations.
When a serious truck accident occurs, investigators from the trucking company’s insurance carrier are usually on the scene within hours. These investigators have one interest: protecting the insurance company from liability. This usually means looking for a way to blame the accident on you.
To ensure that your interests are protected, it is important to have investigators who are working for you. Our lawyers work with experts to help us collect and preserve evidence of safety violations, including driver logbook violations such as driving too long without a required rest break, weight violations. lack of proper maintenance, unsafe passing, driver negligence, unqualified driver, drug or alcohol use by the driver & speeding.
Many trucks are equipped with GPS systems that can tell our investigators how fast the truck was traveling and what maneuvers, such as lane changes and braking, the driver made before the collision. Unless this evidence and other evidence is preserved, it can go missing in the weeks and months after the accident.
West Virginia Truck Accident Statistics
Every June, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publishes a Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus statistics. The 2017 edition has the most recently compiled statistics. According to that Guide, as of 2015, there were 8,456,302 single unit trucks registered in the U.S. and 2,746,882 were combination or semi-trailer trucks.
Registration of vehicles of all types in that year totaled 263,610,219.
In 2015, out of a U.S population of 323.4 million, there were a total of 6,295,000 crashes nationwide, 415,000 involved a large truck. Of 32,166 fatal crashes, 3,598 involved a large truck. The FMCSA defines a large truck as “a truck with a gross vehicle weight greater than 10,000 pounds.” Of all freight shipped across the country, 64 percent goes in large trucks.
By comparison, in West Virginia in 2015, with a population of 1.8 million people, there were 268 fatalities in vehicle crashes in general with 22 of them involving a crash with a large truck. In 2016, there were 27 large truck crash fatalities out of a total of 269 fatalities attributed to all vehicle crashes. West Virginia has recently seen a large number of truck accidents on Interstate 64 near Huntington.
“Critical Events” Causing Truck Accidents
A few years ago, the FMSCA curated a study that reported that three major “critical events” contribute to large truck accidents:
- The driver runs out of the travel lane, either into another lane or off the road (32 percent of all trucking accidents).
- The driver loses control of the vehicle due to traveling too fast for conditions, cargo shift, vehicle systems failure, poor road conditions, or other reasons (29 percent of all trucking accidents).
- The driver collides with the rear end of another vehicle in the truck’s travel lane (22 percent of all trucking accidents).
Driver Errors Contributing to the Critical Events
- Driver non-performance. For some reason, the driver became physically impaired, by having a seizure, heart attack, stroke, fatigue, or by simply falling asleep.
- Driver was distracted. This may be by talking on his or her cell phone, texting, fiddling with the radio, eating, or engaging in any activity that involved taking attention off of driving and off of the road.
- Driver made a bad decision. Perhaps the driver was going too fast for the road conditions, followed too closely, or misjudged the speed of oncoming cars when passing. The driver may have turned suddenly, lost control, and even overcompensated for the loss of control. Swerving may have caused the cargo to shift, resulting in loss of control.
- Driver underestimated the braking distance due to the weight of the cargo.
- Driver may not have been properly trained to carry the cargo that is being transported. For example, special training is required to transport hazardous materials.
- Driver was drinking or using drugs.
But, even if a truck driver does everything right, follows the rules so as not to get drowsy, goes the right speed and stays alert to prevent a critical event, and has the proper training, mechanical failure occurs, and so does a critical event.
Examples of the most common mechanical failures, according to the FMCSA are that the brakes fail or a tire blows out. These may be attributable to improper maintenance. Another main reason is the cargo shifts, which is usually due to improper loading.
Schedule A Free Truck Accident Consultation Today
If you were injured in a crash with a large truck, or a family member you care about was killed, our Charleston attorneys at Johnstone & Gabhart, LLP can help. We focus a large percentage of our practice on helping those injured in trucking accidents collect damages to cover their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. Contact us for a free consultation. If you are unable to come to us, we can arrange to come to you. We can visit you in the hospital or in your home.