When it comes to truck accidents, West Virginia is fairly fortunate. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tractor-trailers and other large trucks recently accounted for only 6 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes in the state, and that figure that has been declining for several years.
But the statistics don’t tell the whole story. Truck crashes may be rare in West Virginia, but also result in some of the most traumatic injuries.
It’s easy to understand why truck wrecks cause such devastation. The vast majority of trucks involved in fatal crashes nationwide are classified as “very heavy trucks,” weighing 26,000 pounds or more. A 4,000-pound sedan or SUV is simply no match for a big rig in a collision – and it’s likely someone will be hurt, and it will probably be an occupant of the lighter vehicle.
The aftermath of a truck accident is scary and confusing. Getting proper medical treatment is always the first priority. But getting quality care is expensive, placing a financial and emotional strain on survivors and their families. The West Virginia truck accident lawyers at Jim Leach Attorneys at Law are skilled litigators who help injured people fight for compensation to ease those burdens.
Truck accidents are serious cases. You better have a serious lawyer.
How Our West Virginia Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help You
Accidents involving commercial trucks are complicated. It’s not always easy to unravel what happened or who is responsible. Our truck accident attorneys know the federal and state trucking laws involving commercial motor vehicles. We also know all of the tactics that insurance companies will use to avoid paying out a fair settlement.
Here’s what you need to know about truck accident claims:
- The rules are strict. Trucking companies and drivers must follow safety guidelines set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. FMCSA regulations govern the entire trucking industry. They address key safety concerns, such as how long a trucker can drive before a mandatory rest period, licensing requirements, vehicle maintenance, weight and size restrictions and technology use behind the wheel. There are also recordkeeping requirements that can be critical pieces of evidence in a truck accident claim.
- More than one party could be liable. Truck crashes can have multiple causes. For example, an underqualified truck driver may not be skilled enough to control a semi-truck if defective brakes fail. In that case, the trucker, the employer, the truck parts manufacturer and mechanics may be possible defendants in your case.
- Truck insurance companies fight hard. There may be multiple insurance policies for the truck company and driver. Those policies can carry million-dollar liability coverage limits, which means that the stakes are high for insurance carriers. It’s guaranteed that they will fight harder to diminish the responsibility of the trucker or company named in your claim.
- Evidence can vanish. West Virginia has a two-year statute of limitations on truck accident claims. But it’s important to start an investigation of the wreck as soon as possible. Trucking companies and drivers are responsible documenting all aspects of their vehicles and their trips. But FMCSA does not require all records to be kept permanently. If an accident claim is not pursued in a timely manner, logbooks and other essential information may be tampered with or destroyed.
The lawyers at Jim Leach Attorneys at Law can get started on your claim while you recover from your injuries. We understand the complexities involving truck accidents and can identify what you need to win – and get it.
Why Do West Virginia Truck Accidents Happen?
Despite extensive FMCSA regulations, crash-causing violations happen. Many crashes involving semi-trucks are the result of some form of driver error. However, a combination of factors can contribute to a wreck.
Common causes of truck accidents include:
- Fatigued driving: Truckers are usually paid by the mile and are sometimes offered incentives by their employers to make early deliveries. This can cause drivers to break the hours of service rules set by the government and result in a drowsy driving accident.
- Distracted driving: Cell phone use (including texting) is strictly limited while drivers are on the road.
- Poor maintenance: Trucks must be maintained throughout the duration of their service. Companies must keep pre- and post-service inspection records of their 18-wheelers. Truckers are also responsible for doing equipment checks on each trip.
- Lack of training: Truck drivers have special licensing requirements. Companies that knowingly employ poorly trained or underqualified drivers are in violation of the law.
- Drunk or drugged driving (including prescription medications)
- Defective parts (brakes and steering systems, for example)
- Equipment failure (tire blowouts, for example)
- Other people (drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians, bicyclists)
Why Are the Stakes So High in Truck Accident Claims?
When truck accidents happen, anyone can be injured. But in the vast majority of cases, the worst injuries happen to the occupants of the other vehicle. The injuries are typically more severe as well. Some result in lifelong disabilities that get worse over time.
Fortunately, trucking companies typically carry insurance coverage with limits well beyond what a typical motorist may have. These higher limits can help pay for the devastating injuries truck accidents caused, but the insurance companies aren’t likely to make a sizeable payout without a fight.
That’s why the stakes are so high. Truck accident victims often need support that extends far beyond the period of time they spend in the hospital. Our attorneys have represented truck accident victims with injuries such as:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Burns (heat and chemical-related if the truck was carrying hazardous or combustible materials)
- Internal bleeding
- Mental health problems (PTSD, depression)
Planning for life after being injured in a truck accident will involve looking at immediate financial losses as well as what the future holds. Our lawyers will call upon a variety of experts to support your claim for compensation. That includes doctors, but also financial experts who can testify to what your injuries will mean in terms of lost earning potential.
Other non-medical experts that our lawyers use in accident claims involving commercial vehicles include:
- Maintenance specialists
- Accident reconstructionists
- First responders
- Law enforcement
- Vocational rehab representatives
- FMCSA regulation experts
- Life care planners
Contact Our Parkersburg Truck Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one was injured in a crash involving a commercial truck, semi-truck, tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler, contact Jim Leach Attorneys at Law to learn how we can help. Our firm provides compassionate service to clients throughout West Virginia and Ohio. Call us or use our online contact form now to arrange a free consultation.