how does social media impact your personal injury case

The Dangers of Using Social Media During an Accident Injury Claim

The vast majority of Americans use social media. Many of them regularly access popular platforms like Facebook and Instagram multiple times daily, using it to post photos and status updates, keep up with what their family and friends are doing, and stay current on the news. Under normal circumstances, being active on social media is not likely to cause any major problems, but when you are involved in a personal injury claim, this is not the case.

If you have suffered injury at the hands of another party and you are pursuing a claim for damages, your social media activity could be very damaging to your case. For example, let’s say you were at work on a construction site and you fell from a high elevation and got seriously injured because a contractor working nearby spilled a slippery substance on the platform you were on.

This being a major event in your life, you might be tempted to post some photos of the accident scene and make some comments about what happened. And since you will probably want to reassure your loved ones that you will be okay, you might make overly optimistic statements about your injuries without really knowing their full extent.

All of this might sound like normal social media activity – and it is – but posts and comments like these can be used by the other side to undermine your claim. Here are just a few of the ways your social media posts might damage your personal injury case:

  • Comments Taken Out of Context: Whatever you say on a social media post can be twisted and turned around by the other side. For example, just an innocent update telling your family and friends that you are “feeling much better” could be taken to mean that your injuries were not really as bad as you made them out to be.
  • Posted Photos Used to Misrepresent Your Condition: While recovering from your injury, you might want to do something relaxing with your friends, like go to a spa and enjoy yourself. But be careful about posting photos of you laughing and enjoying yourself with others, because they can also be used particularly to diminish claims for noneconomic losses like pain and suffering and emotional distress.
  • Comments and Photos Posted by Friends and Family used Against You: Maybe you didn’t post any comments or photos, but others in your circle did. And some of these might involve you, such as photos you are tagged in and comments about your injury or something else you are doing. These could also be uncovered by the other side and used against you.

There is No Expectation of Privacy on Social Media

Many people look at what we have said so far and think, “that won’t affect me, because I have strict privacy settings on my social media profiles”. Don’t be so sure about that. Defense lawyers and insurance companies have vast resources, and they employ investigators who are very tech savvy and have creative ways of finding information about you from social media. For example, someone working for the insurance company could become a friend of your friend, and you might inadvertently accept their friend request not knowing who they are but thinking it is someone your friend knows.

Even if none of that happens, all of your electronic correspondence is discoverable in a legal proceeding and it could be subpoenaed by the other side if they decided to take it that far. So, with this in mind, you should never post anything on social media that you do not want the whole world to see.

When you are involved in a personal injury case, the best practice is to suspend your accounts while the case is ongoing and restart them when it is over. If you are not able to quit social media cold turkey, at the very least, refrain from posting anything or commenting on anyone else’s posts. Also be sure to change your settings so you cannot be tagged in someone else’s post. In other words, only use social media as an information tool and nothing more.

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

If you or someone close to you got injured through no fault of your own, you will need an experienced attorney to help guide you through the claims process and avoid common pitfalls like using social media while the proceeding is ongoing. If your injury occurred in West Virginia, Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. is here to help. Message us online or call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

drowsy driving and truck accidents

Drowsy Driving and Truck Accidents

Over the road truckers have one of the most stressful jobs in the marketplace. They are away from their families for several days at a time making deliveries, and they are typically out on the road for many hours each day.

Much of their driving takes place during the evening and overnight hours, when there is less traffic on the road, and many drivers are also under so much pressure to keep unrealistic deadlines that they are tempted to push the limits and drive longer than they should. Under these types of conditions, it is no wonder that many truck drivers are susceptible to getting fatigued and even sleepy when they are behind the wheel.

Drowsy Driving Among the General Population

Drowsy driving is extremely dangerous, and it is far more common than most people realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), drowsiness is responsible for more than 70,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 fatalities each year. These are just the official numbers, however, and they are most likely underestimated.

Many drivers do not tell the police that they were sleepy right before an accident, because they do not want to get blamed for it. As a result, the CDC says that the number of annual fatalities that are caused by drowsy driving may be as high as 6,000.

While we are not sure about the number of drowsy driving-related fatalities, what we do know is that there are a lot of motorists out there who are driving while they are tired or fatigued. In fact, in one survey mentioned by the CDC, one out of every 25 drivers over the age of 18 admitted to having fallen asleep behind the wheel within the past 30 days.

One of the things that makes drowsy driving so dangerous is that drivers often have difficulty realizing at what point they cross the line between being tired and falling asleep. No one knows the exact moment when that happens, and sometimes it can sneak up on you.

Falling asleep while driving can clearly result in catastrophic consequences, but even if that does not happen, the effects of drowsiness still make it more likely that a driver might cause an accident. Drowsy drivers have slower reaction times, and they may not be able to hit the break or turn the steering wheel in time to avoid an adverse situation that may arise.

Sleepy or fatigued drivers also have a more difficult time staying focused on the road, often blinking repeatedly just to stay awake. As they become more tired, their ability to multitask becomes severely diminished. This may cause them to miss important details, such as a vehicle entering their blind spot or a bicycle or pedestrian crossing nearby.

Drowsy Driving in the Trucking Industry

The CDC lists commercial drivers among the groups most likely to drive while drowsy. This not only includes long-haul tractor-trailer drivers, but also those who drive buses, tow trucks, and other commercial vehicles.

As mentioned earlier, commercial truck drivers work long hours, often alternating between day and night shifts. This can cause a lack of sleep and make it more difficult to adjust their bodies to being awake at different times of the day and night. In addition, it is estimated that nearly one third of all big rig truck drivers have sleep apnea, which is another major risk factor listed by the CDC.

These factors combined with the stress of the job and the temptation to violate federal Hours of Service regulations to deliver their loads on time put truckers in a position where it is difficult to avoid driving when they are tired or sleepy. Given the major risk of truck accidents caused by drowsy driving, it is incumbent upon trucking companies to put the safety of their drivers ahead of profits by taking steps to ensure that they have an adequate amount of rest before getting out on the road.

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

Drowsiness and fatigue are major contributors to many trucking accidents, and these types of accidents can happen with standard passenger vehicles as well. If you or someone close to you suffered injury at the hands of a drowsy driver, you deserve to be fully compensated. If your accident occurred in West Virginia, contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for legal help. Message us online or call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 for a free consultation and case assessment.

pedestrian accidents

Why are Pedestrian Accidents Increasing?

With spring just around the corner, the weather is starting to warm up in West Virginia and other Appalachian states. This means more people will be out walking to get some exercise and take advantage of the warmer weather. With the increase in foot traffic comes the heightened danger of vehicles crashing into pedestrians, which can result in serious injuries and fatalities.

On average, a pedestrian is killed in the United States every 88 minutes. And in recent years, the number of pedestrian accident fatalities has been on the rise. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that there were 6,283 pedestrian deaths in 2018 (the most recent year we have full records for), which was the highest number of deaths since 1990.

What is especially alarming is that pedestrian accident fatalities in 2018 were approximately 53% higher than the 4109 deaths in 2009, just a decade or so earlier. During that same period, all other traffic-related deaths were down by 6%. Pedestrian fatalities now comprise 16% of all traffic fatalities, which is up from 12% in 2009.

What is Driving the Increase in Pedestrian Accidents?

There are a number of factors that experts say are contributing to the rise in pedestrian accident fatalities, these include:

More People out Walking

One of the simpler explanations for why pedestrian accidents are increasing is there are more pedestrians out walking than ever before. Population growth accounts for some of this, but there are other reasons as well. These days, people are more health conscious, and they are also more conscious of the need to preserve a healthy environment. For this reason, a growing number of individuals are choosing to walk to work or walk to and from public transportation stops that take them to work. Many people also walk outdoors as their primary form of exercise in order to help them stay in shape.

More Vehicles on the Road

In addition to the increase in foot traffic, there has also been an increase in the number of vehicles on the roadways over the past decade. The economic recovery combined with lower fuel prices and easy access to financing has put vehicle ownership within reach for a larger segment of the population.

More Large Vehicles on the Road

The lower fuel prices and strong economy have also led to a growing preference for larger vehicles, such as SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks. For example, in 2013, only about 32% of vehicles on the roads in the US were SUVs. Today, that number is around 50%. Pedestrians have very little protection compared to others on the roads, and large vehicles can cause more serious and catastrophic injuries. In fact, the NHTSA says that SUVs are 2.5 to 3 times more likely to kill a pedestrian than a smaller vehicle. It can also be more difficult for the driver of a large vehicle to see a pedestrian, which increases the chances of an accident in the first place.

Electronic Distractions

In 2007, Apple introduced its first iPhone, and this was the first smartphone to be used widely by consumers. Since that time, several other brands have penetrated the marketplace with price points designed to fit virtually any budget. As a result, today, nearly everyone has a smartphone. And while having a computer in your pocket is great for staying connected, it is not so great for staying focused when you are driving or walking.

Texting while driving or sending other electronic messages while behind the wheel distracts motorists in three ways; visually, manually, and cognitively. The end result is that their focus is taken completely away from the road, causing them to miss important details, such as a pedestrian crossing the road in front of them. Smartphones can be dangerous for pedestrian to use as well as they may be too focused on their phones to watch where they are going.

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

Pedestrian accidents can be some of the deadliest incidents that occur on the roadways, and in the vast majority of cases, a motorist is (at least partially) to blame. If you or a loved one suffered injury in a pedestrian crash, you need strong legal counsel by your side working hard to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve.

If your accident occurred in West Virginia, get in touch with Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for assistance. Message us online or call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 for a free consultation and case evaluation.

industrial accidents in west virginia

Why Do Industrial Accident Happen?

In late January, two workers were injured in an industrial accident in Marshall County when a high-pressure water line blew off of a water truck near Rines Ridge. One of the injured workers was taken by helicopter to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, and the other was taken by ambulance to WVU Reynolds Memorial Hospital. Both workers sustained head injuries.

Unfortunately, the recent Marshall County water truck accident is far from an isolated incident. Industrial accidents like these happen frequently, and most of them are preventable. These accidents usually occur because an employer fails to provide a safe work environment for their employees, and/or because an outside party acts negligently or recklessly and causes the employee to get hurt.

Ensuring safety is critical in every work environment, but this is especially true in industrial workplaces. Manufacturing and industrial plant workers, natural gas and oil drilling workers, coal workers, construction site workers, and those in similar fields deal with numerous potential hazards on the job each and every day. And if something goes wrong, they can be seriously or fatally injured.  

Some common accidents that industrial workers are at risk of include:

  • Slips and falls on the plant floor or at the jobsite;
  • Being hit by loose objects;
  • Being struck by/struck against hard surfaces;
  • Fires and explosions;
  • Structural collapses;
  • Accidents caused by defective machinery or equipment;
  • Exposure to toxic substances;
  • Transportation accidents.

These accidents can result in all kinds of serious injuries, such as:

  • Head and brain injuries;
  • Neck and back injuries;
  • Cuts and lacerations;
  • Spinal cord injuries;
  • Fractures/broken bones;
  • Amputations/loss of limbs;
  • Blindness and deafness;
  • Wrongful death.

When an industrial accident happens, a thorough investigation is needed in order to determine what caused it and what were the contributing factors. The employer will normally carry out an investigation, but there is no good reason to expect that their findings will be accurate. It is best to retain an experienced workplace injury lawyer to have your own investigation conducted, which is far more likely to identify the real cause.

Companies routinely violate OSHA standards, and oftentimes, an OSHA violation is a major contributor to a workplace accident. Common violations include violations of fall protection, hazard communication standards, respiratory protection, scaffolding requirements, control of hazardous energy, electrical wiring methods, machinery violations, and electrical system design flaws.

To make matters worse, unsafe work conditions are often combined with a lack of proper training, poor supervision, and overworked employees. And as we touched on earlier, a negligent third-party could also share at least some of the responsibility for the accident and subsequent injuries.

Legal Avenues for Recovering Compensation after an Industrial Accident

A workplace injury can be a life-altering event that puts a major physical, emotional, and financial strain on injured workers and their families. While workers’ comp is usually the first place a worker will go for compensation after an injury, this program only provides limited benefits, which include necessary medical expenses and a percentage of lost earnings. Unfortunately, you are not able to recover compensation for real but intangible losses such as pain and suffering, psychological distress, and diminished quality of life like you would be able to with a personal injury claim.

The good news is that you may have a basis for a personal injury lawsuit to recover full and fair compensation for your workplace accident, depending on your circumstances. Some potential avenues for maximizing compensation for a workplace injury in West Virginia include:

  • Deliberate Intent Claim against an Employer: West Virginia allows an injured worker to bypass the workers’ compensation system and file a direct lawsuit against their employer if the injury was caused by the employer’s intentional actions. This is known as a “deliberate intent” or “Mandolidis claim.” To win a deliberate intent claim, you will need to prove not only that a dangerous or unsafe work condition existed, but also that the employer knew about it (or should have reasonably known about it) and did nothing to remedy the situation. There is a high burden of proof required with a deliberate intent claim, and you will need to work with an attorney who has specific experience with this area of the law and the proven ability to successfully pursue these types of claims.
  • Lawsuit against a Third-Party Subcontractor: There are many instances in which industrial workers work alongside outside contractors who are brought in to perform specific tasks. If one of these subcontractors is at fault for causing a workplace injury, you can bring a personal injury lawsuit directly against the responsible party.
  • Lawsuit against an Off-Site Party that Causes an Accident: Similar to a third party that is working on-site, there are cases in which another party outside of the workplace causes an employee to become injured. One of the most common examples of this is a transportation accident. A lot of supplies and materials are moved to and from industrial sites on a regular basis, and workers who are injured by other drivers on the road can file a personal injury claim directly against that driver.
  • Product Liability Claim Against a Defective Product Maker: When a workplace injury is caused by machinery or equipment that is defective and malfunctions, an injury claim can be brought against the manufacturer, distributor, and other parties within the product’s supply chain under the legal theory known as “product liability”.

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

Industrial injuries happen frequently in the workplace, and the cause of these types of injuries is not always clear-cut. There are numerous potential factors that can play a role, and it is very important for an injured worker to be represented by a seasoned attorney who is effectively able to explore all of his/her potential legal options.

At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have over four decades of experience standing up for injured workers, and we have a successful track record with even the most complex cases. If you or someone close to you suffered injury in an industrial accident, contact us for skilled legal guidance. Call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online to schedule your free, no obligation consultation with one of our attorneys.

sun glare accident in wva

The Dangers of Sun Glare Accidents

During the fall and winter months when the days get shorter, the possibility of sun glare while driving greatly increases. We have all experienced it from time to time; you are driving to or from work and everything is fine – until a blast of blinding bright sunlight pierces through your windshield. Suddenly, you can hardly see anything in front of you, and all you can do is hope that you do not hit anything.

Sun glare is a contributing factor in numerous auto accidents each year. The official number (according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) is just a few hundred, but AAA and other organizations believe the number is much higher. Often times, sun glare is not listed as the cause of an accident on the police report, even though it still may have played a role.

A 20-year study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) helps shed some additional light on this issue. The study of more than 11,000 life-threatening motor vehicle crashes from 1995 to 2014 examined the causes of hospitalizations from these crashes. It found that bright sunlight was present in roughly a third of all crashes that happened during the daylight hours, which is a strong indication that sun glare is far more dangerous than most people believe.

Am I Liable for a Sun Glare Accident?

When someone causes a crash that happens because they were blinded by bright sunlight, they might naturally wonder whether or not they are liable for damages. After all, sunlight is an “act of God”, so that would be a factor that is beyond the control of the driver, right? On the surface, this may seem like it could be a viable argument. But unfortunately for the driver who was blinded by sun glare, it is not.

It may be true that the sun shining is a natural event, but it is not an “extraordinary” event that would fall under the category of an “act of God”. An “act of God” is an unpredictable and uncontrollable event; such as an earthquake, mudslide, or a deer dashing in front of your vehicle while it is in motion. These are events that do not happen every day, and it is very hard to know when and where they will occur.

Bright sunlight, by contrast, is not unusual or unpredictable. The sun rises every morning and sets every evening like clockwork, and it not difficult to find out what time of the day these events will occur. We also know that, during certain times of the year, there is a greater chance of encountering sun glare when we drive east in the morning and west in the late afternoon.

As motorists, we have a duty of care to those we share the roads with. This means taking reasonable steps to operate our vehicle in a safe manner, which includes taking various precautions to prepare for the possibility of bright sunlight.

Ways to Prevent Sun Glare Accidents

There are several things we can do to better handle bright sunlight when we drive:

  • Keep your Windshield Clean and Clear: If you have marks or streaks on your windshield, or if you have clutter on your dashboard, it will make it even more difficult to see when the sun shines brightly into your vehicle. Before you start your trip, make sure your windshield is clean and clear on both the outside and the inside. Fill up with plenty of washer fluid and replace your windshield wipers if needed to help avoid streaks while you drive.
  • Wear Polarized Sunglasses: Whenever you drive during the day, you should have a good pair of sunglasses to help minimize the effects of bright sunlight. Polarized sunglasses are best for this purpose.
  • Utilize your Sun Visors: Be sure to turn your sun visors to the side when needed to block out bright glare. You may also want to consider purchasing sun visor extenders to give you extra protection.
  • Drive Slowly and Carefully: As we all know, bright sunlight while driving makes it really hard to see what is in front of you. When the glare of the sun comes through your windshield, be sure to slow down and allow plenty of space between you and other vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians.
  • Avoid Distractions: Texting while driving and other forms of distracted driving are always dangerous, and this is particularly true when you are dealing with sun glare.
  • Adjust your Route and Drive Time: Sometimes, just a small change in the time you drive or the route you take can significantly reduce the amount of time you have to spend staring at the sun. Consider any adjustments you may be able to make to your schedule that will allow you to accomplish this.

Injured in a Sun Glare Accident? Speak with an Experienced Auto Accident Lawyer

Despite your best efforts, you cannot control external factors on the road, such as the negligence of other drivers. If you or someone close to you has been injured in a motor vehicle crash that was the fault of another party, you deserve to be fully compensated. Insurance companies will do everything they can get away with to pay out as little as possible for your injuries. And for this reason, you need a strong legal advocate in your corner fighting hard for every dollar of compensation you are entitled to.

At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we are here to help! Call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.