accident in a company vehicle

What Happens if you are Involved in a Crash with a Company Vehicle?

If you get into an auto accident while driving a company vehicle, the case can be far more complicated than accidents that happen in a personal car. One of the first issues will be determining who is at fault and who is responsible to pay for the injuries and other losses that are sustained.

In most accidents that happen with a company vehicle, the employer’s liability coverage would kick in if the employee is responsible for an accident that happens while they are working. But if the accident occurred when they were not working (e.g., while driving to or from work), then the employer’s coverage would not apply. The same holds true if the employee was committing a crime (e.g., driving drunk on the job) or using the vehicle for personal or recreational activities outside of work.

If you are injured in a company vehicle while on the job, you should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp covers medical bills and a percentage of lost earnings when you are out of work. Unfortunately, this program does not provide coverage for noneconomic losses that you may have suffered, such as pain-and-suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life.

However, if the driver of the other vehicle was at fault for the auto accident, then you can file a personal injury claim against their insurance company. This would allow you to recover both economic and noneconomic damages.

West Virginia Modified Comparative Negligence Laws

There are some instances when more than one driver is at fault for an auto accident. For example, let’s say you rear-ended the car in front of you because they were slow to move after the red light turned green. This might initially appear to be your fault, but later it is learned that the other driver was sending a text at the time when the light changed.

Because the other driver was texting while driving (a traffic violation), it is ultimately determined that they are more responsible for the accident than you were. In such cases, state comparative fault laws would apply.

West Virginia uses a modified form of comparative negligence for personal injury cases. In the Mountain State, if you are less than 50% at fault for the underlying accident or event, then you can still recover damages. However, your damage award would be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault you share.

So, in the previous example, if you sustained a total of $100,000 in damages and you are determined to be 20% at fault for the accident, your compensation would be reduced by $20,000 down to a total of $80,000.

When a Third Party is Responsible for a Car Accident in a Company Vehicle

Most auto accidents are the result of human error, but sometimes, the responsibility lies with a party that is not directly involved in the accident. This type of scenario happens commonly with commercial accidents in which an outside party plays a role. Examples include:

  • Improperly Loaded Vehicles: When a company vehicle is used to ship products, the cargo/shipping company that loaded the vehicle could be at fault if the vehicle was unevenly loaded or loaded beyond its weight limits. This problem is most common with large tractor-trailers.
  • Negligent Maintenance: If an accident happens because of mechanical failure, it could be the fault of the party responsible for maintaining the company vehicle.
  • Faulty Products: Mechanical breakdown could also be caused by a dangerous or defective vehicle part, such as a brand-new tire that blows out after a minimal amount of use or a new steering system that malfunctions.
  • Poorly Maintained Roadways: Some auto accidents are caused by poor road conditions, such as potholes or cracks in the road surface, damaged or hidden road signs, and missing or inadequate guardrails. In cases like these, the party in charge of maintaining the roadways could be at fault. If this is a government entity, there are special rules that need to be followed if you plan to pursue a claim against them.

Injured in an Auto Accident in West Virginia? Contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for Assistance

If you or a loved one suffered injury while driving a company vehicle, this could become a very complex case. For this reason, it makes sense to get an experienced personal injury attorney involved as early as possible, so your legal rights and interests are fully protected.

If your accident occurred in West Virginia, contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for skilled legal guidance. We will meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and explore every potential legal avenue toward recovering maximum compensation. To get started, call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or send us an online message to schedule your free consultation. We look forward to serving you!

4 Injured in Belle, WV Chemical Plant Explosion: Cause to Be Investigated

4 Injured in Belle, WV Chemical Plant Explosion: Cause to Be Investigated

An explosion at the Chemours plant in Belle, WV earlier this week resulted in a fire that prompted a temporary shelter in place order for residents within a 2-mile radius of the plant. Route 60 was also closed between Campbell’s Creek and the Chelyan Bridge because of the incident. The explosion left several people injured, including two plant workers, and one person was killed.

Officials originally thought the explosion was caused by a barge in the Kanawha River next to the plant, but it was later determined that the blasts came from within the plant. Officials now believe that chlorinated dry bleach and methanol were the chemicals involved in the explosion, but the exact cause is still under investigation.

In the coming days and weeks, the explosion will be thoroughly investigated by OSHA and the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB). The CSB conducts root cause investigations of chemical accidents at fixed industrial facilities like the Chemours plant in Belle. As part of their investigation, they typically conduct detailed interviews with witnesses, examine and test chemical samples and equipment obtained from the plant, and review plant safety records and operating procedures.

Possible Reasons for the Chemours Plant Explosion

At Bailey, Javins, and Carter, we have handled numerous West Virginia explosion cases over the years, including the Midland Resource Recovery Plant explosion (2017), the Sago Mine explosion (2006), the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion (2010), and the Little General Store explosion (2007). We have extensive knowledge of the complexities involved with these types of cases and the various factors that are most likely to cause or contribute to these explosions.

Some of the most common reasons for explosions at chemical plants and other industrial jobsites include:

  • Combustible Powders: Dust and similar powders is one of the biggest causes of fires and explosions in chemical manufacturing. Many types of materials that are not fire risks as large pieces can become combustible when they are converted into powder form. Combustible dust incidents often result in multiple explosions, and it should be noted that there were reportedly three separate blasts at the Chemours plant, an accident that is said to have involved chlorinated dry bleach powder.
  • Flammable Liquids and Gases: Flammable gases and liquids have been the cause of some of the most devastating chemical plant explosions. These substances are known to be extremely hazardous, and all safety precautions should be taken to keep them secure. The flammable liquid methanol is believed to be another one of the chemicals involved in the Chemours plant explosion.
  • Hot Work: Welding, torch cutting, and other types of hot work are among the leading causes of all types of industrial fires and explosions. This kind of work is very dangerous in industrial plants, because the sparks and molten materials can reach temperatures that exceed 1000°F, and these materials have the ability to travel more than 35 feet.
  • Faulty Equipment and Machinery: Machinery and equipment that is used in chemical and other types of industrial plants can become an explosion or fire hazard because of the heat and the friction between moving parts. Furnaces, mechanical, and hot work equipment are among the biggest culprits.
  • Electrical Hazards: Electrical fires and explosions happen frequently in industrial plants. These incidents are usually caused by exposed wiring, wiring that is not up to code, extension cords, overloaded outlets, overloaded circuits, and static discharge.

The root causes for explosion accidents in the workplace usually include unsafe workplace practices such as inadequate training, poor supervision, failure to follow safe materials storage and handling protocols, failure to properly control ignition sources, and failure to provide adequate personal protective equipment.

Machinery and equipment failures are another root cause in many of these accidents, often resulting from corrosion that is not detected and/or addressed, inadequate cleaning and maintenance, and inherent product dangers or defects.

In the case of a chemical plant explosion like the one that just happened at the Chemours plant, the CSB investigation will usually take several months. After compiling and examining the evidence and reviewing regulations and industry practices, investigators will draft a report of their key findings and list root causes and recommendations.

Experienced Advocates for West Virginia Explosion Accident Victims

At Bailey, Javins, and Carter, our thoughts and prayers are with the four individuals who were injured in the Belle, WV chemical plant as well as their families. We are confident that the CSB will get to the bottom of what happened and help ensure that whichever parties were responsible are held accountable.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in an explosion accident or any other type of workplace injury in West Virginia, we are here to help. We have been standing up for injured workers in the Mountain State for five decades, and when you hire us, we will put our extensive experience to work and explore every potential legal avenue toward recovering maximum compensation.

For a free consultation with a member of our legal team, message us online or call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979. We look forward to serving you!

We take all cases on a contingency fee basis, so you only pay attorney fees if we win your case.

 

workplace accident attorney

Determining Liability for Workplace Accidents

Each year, more than 4.5 million workers in the US get injured on the job. This averages out to more than 12,500 injuries per day, 500+ injuries per hour, and an injury every seven seconds. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the top three causes of workplace injuries are:

  • Overexertion: Usually resulting from too much lifting and/or lowering of heavy objects, repetitive motions, etc.
  • Object and Equipment Accidents: Getting struck by/struck against an object or piece of equipment, getting caught in a piece of equipment or machinery, getting caught, stuck, or crushed by a collapsing structure.
  • Slips, Trips, and Falls: Falling on a wet or slippery surface, falling from higher elevations, etc.

When an employee gets hurt in a workplace accident, they often believe that the only place they can go to get reimbursed for the losses related to their injuries is their employer’s workers’ compensation coverage. And while workers’ comp is a no-fault system that should provide some relief, the benefits available are quite limited. An injured worker can receive reimbursement for all necessary medical expenses, a percentage of lost wages for the time they missed from work, and there is some coverage available for disfigurement and other long-term injuries.

Unfortunately, workers’ compensation does not provide any coverage for the intangible losses an injured worker suffers, such as pain-and-suffering, mental anguish, psychological distress, and diminished quality of life. The good news is that there are often other avenues for recovery in workplace accidents that even many legal professionals are not aware of.

Who Could be Liable for a Workplace Accident?

Under most circumstances, an injured employee is not allowed to sue their employer for a workplace injury if the employer has workers’ compensation coverage. However, there are often parties other than the employer who could be held liable for the injury. When this is the case, the employer can file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the responsible party.

Determining liability for a workplace accident starts with a thorough investigation that examines all relevant facts and pieces of evidence, so you can get to the bottom of what happened and who ultimately caused the injury. This is why it is very important to work with a firm that has extensive experience with these types of cases, so their attorneys know what to look for and how to recover maximum compensation.

There are several parties that could be responsible for workplace accidents, these may include:

  • A contractor or subcontractor who was working alongside the employee who got injured.
  • An architect or engineer whose faulty design causes a structure to collapse.
  • The driver of a vehicle that crashes into an employee’s vehicle while they are on the clock.
  • The owner or caretaker of a property whose negligence causes an employee to get injured while working off-site.
  • The manufacturer or seller of a defective or dangerous piece of equipment or machinery.

Case Study: Injured Coal Worker Secures Seven-Figure Product Liability Settlement from Machinery Accident

Recently, BJC was involved in a case on behalf of a coal worker whose left arm got caught in the drill chuck of a roof bolting machine. This caused his arm to break, and he hung by his broken arm for about an hour until his coworkers finally cut his sleeve loose and freed him. The injured worker went to other attorneys who told him there was nothing they could do, but when we examined the case, we found that the seller of the sleeve was the responsible party.

It turned out that these sleeves were marketed to the coal industry as personal protective equipment (PPE), but no warnings whatsoever were given about the dangers of wearing a highly tear resistant sleeve while working with rotational equipment. The worker has several permanent injuries, and he can no longer do his job or participate in many other activities that he once enjoyed. The defendant recently agreed to pay our client a seven-figure settlement for his losses.

Injured in a Workplace Accident in West Virginia? Contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for Assistance

If you or someone close to you suffered a workplace injury, you may have legal avenues outside of a workers’ comp claim. At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have more than four decades of experience standing up for working people, and we can meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and go over all of your options.

The consultation is totally free, and if we end up taking your case, we will not charge any attorney fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf. All it costs you is a little bit of your time to find out where you stand. To get started, call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online. We look forward to serving you!

 

distracted driving, and car accidents

What Percentage of Auto Accidents are Caused by Human Error?

There are numerous reasons why a car accident may occur. Driver negligence, bad weather, poor road conditions, and the negligence of third parties could all be contributors, and sometimes, they are caused by a combination of several different factors.

Most of the time, auto accidents are preventable. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that somewhere between 94% and 96% of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by some type of human error. Other studies show slightly lower percentages, but the general consensus among experts is that human error contributes to at least 90% of the auto accidents that occur on the roadways.

Most Common Causes of Auto Accidents

The NHTSA identifies several different reasons why car accidents occur, and the majority of them would fall under the category of driver negligence or carelessness. Among these include:

  • Speeding: More than 9,000 individuals are killed each year because of speeding. We have all done it at one time or another, and for many motorists, speeding is common practice. But no matter how “normal” it seems, speeding endangers the lives of everyone on the road. When a driver is traveling too fast, they have less time to slow down and react to adverse conditions on the road. In addition, collisions at higher speeds tend to result in more severe and catastrophic injuries.
  • Aggressive/Reckless Driving: In our modern era, a lot of people are trying to juggle a busy schedule. And in a rush to get from one place to another, it is tempting to cut corners by driving aggressively or in some cases, recklessly. Excessive speeding is one example of aggressive or reckless driving, others include tailgating, illegal or dangerous passing maneuvers, and running red lights or stop signs. All such behaviors heighten the chances of a vehicle accident.
  • Distracted Driving: Motorists have more distractions these days than ever before. Among the worst of these is the temptation to send and receive text messages on a cell phone. Texting while driving is especially dangerous, because it distracts drivers in three ways; visually, manually, and cognitively. This pulls the driver’s entire focus away from the road, causing them to miss important details such as a vehicle slowing down in front of them.
  • Drunk Driving: A 15-year study that was published in S. News & World Report found that 37% of all motor vehicle deaths involved at least one intoxicated driver. 29 Americans die every day because of drunk driving and countless more become seriously injured. In addition, alcohol-related crashes cost our society more than $44 billion each year.
  • Drowsy Driving: According to the National Sleep Foundation, 41% of drivers surveyed admitted that they have fallen asleep at the wheel at some point in their lives, and 10% reported that they have done it in the past year. This is obviously extremely dangerous, but even if a tired or fatigued driver does not fall asleep, they still have slower reaction times, and their peripheral vision is limited as all of their facilities must be used to try to stay awake.

Third-Party Liability for Car Accidents

Liability for some auto accidents might fall with a party other than the drivers involved. If this is the case, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim directly against the responsible party. Examples of third parties that could be at fault for a motor vehicle accident include:

  • Vehicle passengers who grab the steering wheel or otherwise distract the driver.
  • Vehicle owners or lessors who negligently entrust the car to someone who is known to be an unfit driver.
  • Employers whose employees cause accidents because they were improperly vetted or poorly trained.
  • Establishments who serve alcohol to a driver who is clearly intoxicated.
  • Mechanics and auto shops who perform negligent maintenance or repairs which contribute to the accident.
  • The manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of a defective or dangerous vehicle or vehicle part.

Auto accident cases that involve outside parties are inherently more complicated than a standard vehicle collision case. An extensive investigation is necessary to identify any factors that could have contributed to the accident so all parties can be held fully responsible. This is why it is very important to work with attorneys who have in-depth experience with these types of cases and the proven ability to recover maximum compensation on behalf of injury victims.

Injured in an Auto Accident in West Virginia? Contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for Assistance

If you or a loved one got hurt in a car accident, Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. is here to help. We can meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and advise you of all your legal rights and options. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979. We look forward to serving you!

 

what are the most common personal injury settlements?

What are the Most Common Types of Personal Injury Claims in the US?

Accidents and injuries are common, but when they happen because of the negligent or reckless actions or omissions of another party, they can become the basis for a legal claim. A personal injury action is a civil claim for which the sole remedy is monetary damages. These can include damages not only for direct economic losses such as medical bills and lost earnings, but also for intangibles such as physical and emotional pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, and permanent injury.

Five Most Common Types of Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury law can be applied to injuries that result from numerous types of accidents or events. Here are five of the most common:

Motor Vehicle and Transportation Accidents

There are about 275 million vehicles registered in the US, and a large percentage of Americans use their vehicles to commute to and from work every day. There are also tens of thousands of large commercial trucks that inhabit our roadways on a daily basis – transporting goods to and from every area of the country. Add in the numerous motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, and it comes as little surprise that motor vehicle and traffic related accidents are a leading cause of personal injury claims. Most of these accidents are caused by some type of human error, and when this occurs, a personal injury claim can be used to help make the victim whole.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Slips, trips, and falls are another leading cause of a personal injury action. Those who own and operate a business or maintain a public space have a responsibility to keep their premises safe and free of hazards that might do harm to visitors. Unfortunately, they do not always live up to their responsibility. Substandard conditions such as wet and slippery floors, broken tiles or floorboards, cracked or uneven pavement, poor lighting, defective elevators and escalators, loose or broken handrails, and similar dangers can result in slip and fall accidents with serious injuries.

Workplace Accidents

A lot of slip and fall accidents happen in the workplace, and there are many other types of injuries that are common on the job. This is especially true in certain industries that are among the most dangerous, such as mining, building/construction, logging, and road construction work. While a workplace injury might fall under workers’ compensation, many of these injuries can also result in a personal injury claim if a party outside the employer contributes to it. Examples may include third-party subcontractors, faulty product manufacturers, and other vehicle drivers.

Medical Malpractice

Medical errors are among the leading causes of death in America, accounting for somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000 fatalities annually. Usually, a medical negligence claim would be filed against the hospital or doctor when this occurs. West Virginia is among the top 10 states with the most medical malpractice lawsuits.

Product Liability

Thousands of new products hit the market every month, and although they are supposed to go through rigorous testing and meet strict safety standards before becoming available to the public, some products are cleared before they have been proven to be safe. Dangerous and defective products injured thousands of Americans each year, and when this happens, an injury victim can file a product liability claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or any other party within the product’s supply chain.

How Does a Personal Injury Claim Work?

A personal injury lawsuit is generally pursued against the responsible party and/or their insurance company. In many cases, there is a negotiation process that takes place before a lawsuit is filed. The goal of negotiations is to reach a reasonable settlement that fully and fairly compensates the victim without the need to go to trial. Although most cases settle out of court, a victim has a much better chance of securing a favorable settlement when they are working with attorneys who have extensive litigation experience and the proven ability to recover full damages at trial.

Suffered a Personal Injury in West Virginia? Contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for Legal Help

If you or someone close to you suffered an injury that was caused by someone else, you need strong legal counsel in your corner fighting hard to recover maximum compensation. If the injury occurred in West Virginia, Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. is here to help! Call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online for a free consultation and case assessment.