Winter Driving Accidents

Avoiding Winter Auto Accidents in West Virginia

Recently, a charter van carrying members of the Martinsburg High School girls basketball team rolled over while traveling on Interstate 64 in East Beckley, West Virginia. As the van entered the interstate on a sharp left-hand curve, it reportedly veered off onto the right-hand side of the road and overturned. The crash is still under investigation, but poor lighting on the interstate, road construction, and lack of familiarity with the road are believed to be contributing factors.

There were 12 students and two adults in the van, and thankfully, no one was seriously injured.

We are all very relieved that everyone involved in this accident appears to be okay. But unfortunately, this is far from an isolated incident. According to the Mountaineer News Service, West Virginia has a higher fatality rate from auto accidents than the national average. In the Mountain State, the number of car crash fatalities is 14.7 per 100,000 individuals. This is not only well above the national average, it is higher than surrounding states such as Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

There are many factors that contribute to West Virginia’s high auto accident fatality rate, these include:

  • The mountainous terrain that is characteristic of the state;
  • The numerous narrow and winding roads that are spread throughout the state;
  • The high number of rural areas in the Mountain State;
  • The high number of roads (throughout the state) that are poorly maintained;
  • The high rates of driver negligence (e.g., speeding, reckless driving, distracted driving, drowsy driving, etc.) and impaired driving;
  • Poor driving conditions, especially during the winter.

Tips for Safe Winter Driving in West Virginia

Even for the most experienced motorists, driving in West Virginia winter weather is a major challenge. In the mountainous regions, it is not uncommon to receive over 150 inches of snow during a typical winter. Even in the low-lying areas, you can expect to deal with several storm systems that deliver freezing rain, sleet, and snow throughout the season. Whatever part of the state you live in, it is important to be prepared for adverse winter driving conditions.

When the driving conditions are poor, it is best to stay off of the roads until conditions improve if at all possible. If you need to drive during inclement weather, however, here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Monitor your Tire Tread and Tire Pressure: Before you go out in poor weather, there are a few things you should take care of with your vehicle to make sure it is ready. One of the first is to check the tread and pressure on your tires. Be sure your tires have plenty of tread, and that they are inflated to the proper levels. If your tires are worn and there is very little tread left, there is a greater chance of slipping and sliding (or even having a blowout) if you hit ice or snow. If you have the budget, you may also want to consider investing in snow tires for the winter.
  • Check your Battery: The last thing you want to happen is to get stranded in a remote area because of a dead battery. Check out your battery to make sure it has plenty of charge, and just in case, be sure to keep a set of jumper cables along with other emergency items in your vehicle.
  • Check your Wipers and Washer Fluids: When rain or snow hits, you need to have wiper blades that are in good working order, as well as plenty of washer fluid. If your wiper blades are worn, replace them. Also, top off your washer fluid before going out and consider keeping extra washer fluid in your vehicle in case you need it.
  • Clear the Snow Off of Your Vehicle: If you are going out after a snowstorm, make sure to clear all the snow off of your vehicle. Otherwise, this could cause visibility problems when you are driving.
  • Drive Slowly: The best approach when driving in snowy and/or icy weather is to proceed slowly. The slower you are driving, the better you will be able to handle adverse conditions that may come up. It is generally best to drive below 45 miles per hour when you encounter snow or ice on the road.
  • Keep a Safe Distance from Other Vehicles: Allow plenty of extra space between you and other vehicles on the road when there is freezing rain, snow, and similar conditions so you have enough time to slow down or stop if the vehicle in front of you starts to slide.
  • Know How to Drive on Ice: If you are driving at a safe speed, it will be much easier to maintain control if your vehicle starts to skid or slide. If this happens, do not panic. Avoid slamming on your brakes as this can make existing slides worse. Turn your front wheels the same direction that the rear of your vehicle is sliding (this is commonly known as “turning into the slide”). While doing this, however, do NOT overcorrect with your turn as this can cause the vehicle to start rotating faster than the steer can counter, resulting in a spin out. This video provides a good explanation on how to do this properly.

Injured in a Car Accident in West Virginia? Secure your Legal Rights

Driving during winter weather in West Virginia is difficult, and sometimes, you may do everything right and still end up in an accident. If you or someone close to you was injured in a winter driving accident and it was the fault of another party, you have a right to compensation.  When this happens, seek immediate medical attention, then contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.  At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have over 40 years of experience representing clients injured in motor vehicle accidents in West Virginia. We have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and we have a successful track record with even the most complex cases. To schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979, or send us a message through our online contact form.

Concussion Complications - Bailey Javins & Carter

Second Impact Syndrome and other Concussion Complications

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that is considered by many medical professionals to be a milder form of TBI. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concussions are “caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.”

The effects of a concussion are usually temporary, and signs and symptoms may include:

  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Headaches or head pressure
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Irritability
  • Mood and personality changes

Some symptoms of a concussion may surface immediately, while others may take a few hours or even a few days or longer to develop.

Although a concussion may be considered “mild” compared to other forms of TBI, there are serious complications that can result from this type of injury. The Mayo Clinic lists several potential concussion complications:

  • Post-Traumatic Headaches: Some concussion sufferers experience ongoing headaches for as long as a few months after the injury occurs.
  • Post-Traumatic Vertigo: Dizziness or a sense that your head is spinning around can continue for as long as a few months after the injury.
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome: Headaches, dizziness, trouble thinking clearly/confusion, and other concussion symptoms can continue for several weeks or months after the injury occurs.
  • Cumulative Affects of Multiple Brain Injuries: The Mayo Clinic says, “it’s possible that some people who have had one or more traumatic brain injuries over the course of their lives are at greater risk of developing lasting, possibly progressive, impairment that limits function. This is an area of active research.”
  • Second-Impact Syndrome (SIS): This is a rare condition in which an individual suffers a second concussion before their first concussion has fully healed. When this occurs, it can cause rapid and severe brain swelling, and in many cases, the results can be swift and fatal.

The Dangers of Second-Impact Syndrome

Although SIS is a rare condition, it is more common among certain sectors of the population, such as athletes. That said, second-impact syndrome can happen to anyone who sustains multiple concussions within a short period of time. For example, if someone was unfortunate enough to be involved in two high-impact vehicle crashes within a few days of each other, they may be at risk for SIS.

Second-impact syndrome occurs most often with younger athletes (typically around high school age) who play high-impact sports. Although SIS is rare, some of the factors that contribute to this injury among young athletes are not. For example, it is not unusual for an athlete (who is in the midst of an adrenaline rush) not to notice a head injury and continue to play. As an aside, it is common for those involved in motor vehicle accidents to experience this same type of adrenaline rush, which may cause them not to notice various injuries until later on.

Even if the athlete feels the effects of a head injury, they may not think it is all that serious, so they don’t report it to a coach or parent. There may also be pressure put on the athlete (internally or externally) to continue playing in spite of the injury. The risk of second-impact syndrome and the depth of information now being learned about the cumulative effects of multiple brain injuries are major reasons the National Football League (NFL) now uses a concussion protocol.

To prevent second-impact syndrome from occurring and to minimize other concussion complications, it is important for those who experience any type of head trauma due to an accident or from playing sports to be examined right away by a qualified medical professional. It is also important to do everything possible to avoid another bump, jolt, or blow to the head while they are recovering from their current injury.

Suffered a Head Injury? Contact a Seasoned West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone close to you has suffered a concussion or another form of traumatic brain injury and another party may have been responsible, it is important for you to understand your rights and legal options. For skilled legal guidance with all types of personal injuries in West Virginia, call Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 for a free consultation. You may also send us a message through our web contact form.

Truck Accident Attorneys - Bailey Javins & Carter

Accidents with Poorly Loaded Trucks

Trucking accidents are some of the deadliest that occur on the roadways. Thousands of individuals are killed each year in accidents involving commercial trucks, and the vast majority of those killed are occupants of passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians who are involved in these incidents. There are numerous reasons 18-wheeler accidents occur, and with many of these accidents, there are several contributing factors.

For example, an accident may occur because the truck driver is too close to the vehicle in front of them and unable to stop in time to avoid a crash when the other vehicle slowed down. However, upon further investigation, we may learn that the brake lines were faulty, which shortened the truck’s braking distance. We may also learn that the driver was tired and not paying close enough attention to the vehicle in front of them because they were on the road for too long.

Some of the most serious trucking accidents are caused by overloaded trucks or trucks with unevenly loaded cargo. Loaded commercial trucks typically weigh 80,000 pounds or more. And when they are overloaded or poorly loaded, they can create all kinds of hazards, such as:

  • Cargo falling out of the truck and striking other vehicles or individuals nearby;
  • Putting extra strain on key truck parts, such as the frame, suspension, springs, brakes, and tires;
  • Increased risk of jackknifing, tipping, or decoupling.

Last August, a semi-truck carrying 40,000 pounds of Hershey products rolled unto its side while traveling on Interstate 470 in Ohio County, WV. The accident resulted in hundreds of pounds of sweet treats being dumped onto the road. Thankfully, no one was hurt when the truck was tipped to its side, but this is an example of what can happen with poorly loaded trucks.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets the Cargo Securement Rules for commercial vehicles. These rules state the following:

Cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle by structures of adequate strength, dunnage (loose materials used to support and protect cargo) or dunnage bags (inflatable bags intended to fill space between articles of cargo or between cargo and the wall of the vehicle), shoring bars, tiedowns or a combination of these.

Unfortunately, FMCSA standards are not always followed when trucks are loaded. Drivers and shipping companies are typically working under very tight (and often unrealistic) deadlines. This puts pressure on those loading the trucks to complete this task promptly. Trucks may also be loaded beyond their allowed weight limits when shippers are trying to consolidate more cargo into one load in order to save money.

How Poorly Loaded Trucks Can Cause Big-Rig Accidents

Overloaded trucks or imbalanced loads are often one of the hidden causes of a trucking accident. For example, jackknifing, tipping, and decoupling can happen for a number of reasons, such as ice, heavy winds, and other types of inclement weather. However, overweight trucks or poorly balanced loads can contribute to this situation.

Those who drive passenger vehicles probably do not think much about weight distribution most of the time, but it makes a big difference with an 18-wheeler. As mentioned earlier, a fully-loaded big-rig truck typically carries upwards of 80,000 pounds or more. A truck with too much weight or a truck with a poorly balanced load is much more difficult to handle even under the best of conditions. But when these trucks start driving up curvy, winding, mountain roads like what we have here in West Virginia, sometimes all it takes is a moderate gust of wind and/or a little bit of rain or ice to create an accident.

Injured in a Truck Accident in West Virginia? Contact a Nationally-Recognized Personal Injury Attorney

Accidents with commercial trucks can be highly complex cases because there are typically multiple contributing factors and several parties that could potentially be responsible. To get to the bottom of what happened, a thorough investigation is required, and this should be headed up by attorneys who thoroughly understand this area of the law and what it takes to recover full and fair compensation in these types of cases.

At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have successfully represented countless individuals who have been injured in trucking accidents and all other types of personal injuries. We have over four decades of experience, and we have been highly acclaimed not only for our experience and skill, but also for our client-centered focus and our tireless commitment to providing the strong personalized representation our clients deserve. For a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys, contact our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979, or send us a message through our online contact form.

Preparing for an Independent Medical Exam (IME) - Bailey Javins & Carter

Preparing for an Independent Medical Exam (IME)

During a personal injury case or Workers’ Compensation claim, the other party sometimes requests verification of the physical and/or emotional injuries sustained. This is typically done through an independent medical examination (IME). Being asked to undergo an IME is not unusual, and it is not a reason to panic. By understanding the purpose for the IME and preparing for it properly, you can get past this hurdle and bring your claim toward a successful conclusion.

What is an Independent Medical Exam?

An IME is supposed to be conducted by an “independent” medical professional who is not affiliated with any of the parties. This is rarely the case, however. Most of the time, the examiner is someone who is selected by the insurer and has a history of performing similar exams for this same insurer. This means that, at the very least, the examiner is incentivized to make findings that are favorable to the insurer in order to continue receiving referrals in the future.

With this in mind, you can expect this to be an adversarial situation, and the doctor’s findings are likely to favor the insurer’s side of the story and attempt to poke holes in your claim. From the insurer’s standpoint, the end goal of the IME is to produce one of two results:

  • Provide a basis to deny your claim outright; or
  • Provide a basis to offer you far less than your claim is really worth.

How to Prepare for an Independent Medical Exam

Now that you have a general idea why the IME is being requested and what the other side is likely trying to accomplish, you should have the right mindset while you prepare. There are several steps you should take in properly preparing for an IME, here are some the most important:

Review the Details of the Incident that Caused the Injury

You are likely to be asked in detail about what led to your injury. Some time has passed since your accident, so you may have forgotten a few things, or you may be a little foggy on some of the details. Go over the original accident report and any other notes you have describing what happened, and make sure that the answers you provide the medical examiner are consistent with what you have said in the past.

Know your Medical History in Detail

The examiner will most likely have all your medical records in front of them, including previous injuries and health conditions. Take some time to review your medical history in detail, so you understand what the examiner is referring to when you are asked about any of this.

Bring Someone with You to the IME

Always have someone with you when you attend an independent medical exam. This is very important, because you need a witness to confirm what happened at the exam in the event that a dispute arises later. If it is possible and practical, bring a nurse or another health professional along. This way, they can provide expert testimony (if needed) regarding what occurred at your IME.

Arrive Early

Missing your appointment time could be a costly mistake. For example, if the IME is for a Workers’ Compensation claim, your benefits could be suspended if you don’t show up for the exam. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of extra time and arrive early, so there can be no question about whether or not you kept your appointment.

Understand that you are Continually Being Observed

From the moment you pull up in the parking lot of the medical examiner’s office, you are most likely being watched. Assume that the premises are under video surveillance and plan accordingly. The examiner will consider everything about you; including how well you walked into the office, how well you move around the room, how easily you get on and off the exam table, etc.

Do Not Exaggerate your Conditions

Be honest and polite with the examiner, and do not exaggerate the extent of your injuries or symptoms. The examiner will be looking for inconsistencies between what you say and do and what s/he observes, so do not provide any reason for them to claim that you were not telling the truth.

Take Detailed Notes about What Happened at the IME

After you get home from the examiner’s office, write down in as much detail as you can what happened during the exam. Take note of the questions the examiner asked, the tests that were administered, what the examiner told you, and other important facts. This information may become very useful if your case ends up in court.

Consult with Your West Virginia Personal Injury Attorney for Additional Guidance

For more information on preparing for an IME, speak with your attorney beforehand (if you have one). Your attorney will provide more detailed advice about how to prepare for the exam based on the specific circumstances of your case. For example, they can go over the reason the IME was requested, what types of questions to anticipate, what steps need to be taken to counter a bad report, etc. If you have any questions, contact the experienced Personal Injury attorneys at Bailey Javins & Carter and we can help you prepare for your IME. Call us at (800) 497-0234 or through our website contact form.

Car Accidents & the Holidays - Bailey Javins & Carter

Car Accidents and the Holidays

Car Accidents and the Holidays

The holidays are upon us, and this is what the famous song refers to as the “most wonderful time of the year.” The holidays are a wonderful time in which we look forward to spending some relaxing days catching up with close family and friends. But with all those get-togethers comes increased travel. During the month of December, Americans will put on millions of miles to go out to holiday parties and drive out of town to visit family members. Car accidents are a heightened concern during the holidays, especially in states where there is a strong likelihood of inclement weather.

West Virginia is definitely among the areas in which motorists must exercise extreme caution while driving during the winter. Our narrow, winding roads and high mountainous regions can be a recipe for disaster, especially on days leading up to Christmas and New Year’s when there are numerous travelers on the road.

What Causes Auto Accidents During the Holidays?

Increased road congestion and poor driving conditions are two of the major reasons more car accidents occur during the holiday season. These factors are beyond our control, but there are other causes (that are largely within our control) that contribute to these accidents. Some of the most common include:

  • Holiday Stress: Everyone is in a hurry during the holidays. There are countless places to go and things that need to be done. Shopping for loved ones, mailing out cards and gifts, preparing the house for guests/visitors, preparing for holiday parties, going to school events and other presentations, and numerous other tasks can put undue stress on even the most level-headed drivers. This combined with heavy traffic and bad weather can lead to very poor driving decisions.
  • Distracted Driving: These days, more and more people are texting while driving and sending other types of electronic messages when they are supposed to be focused on the road. With all the coordinating that needs to be done around holiday events and related tasks, it is easy for people to take out the phone and try to sneak a quick text in while they are slowing up to a stop sign or stop light. Texting while driving is an especially dangerous activity, because it distracts drivers in three ways; manually, visually, and cognitively.
  • DUI/DWI: According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, drunk driving accounts for accounts for 28% of all car accident fatalities during the month of December. And on average, 300 people are killed each year just in the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve alone. Many holiday gatherings involve alcohol, and it is tempting for those celebrating to get behind the wheel after having a few drinks, especially if they only have to drive a short distance. Sadly, this results in numerous preventable auto accident injuries and fatalities during the holidays.
  • Faulty Vehicle Maintenance: Maintaining your vehicle is important at all times, but this is especially true during the winter. Drivers need to make sure their cars are tuned up, their brakes are in working order, and their tires are not worn down to unsafe tread levels. Here in West Virginia, tire chains of reasonable proportions are sometimes required because of snow, ice, or other slippery conditions. When owners do not take proper steps to ensure that their vehicles are maintained, they can endanger themselves and others on the road.

Safe Driving Tips for the Holidays

Have your Vehicle Checked Over

Before going on a long trip, you need to make sure your vehicle is ready and in good repair. Here are some important areas to get serviced and checked:

  • Get your oil changed and top off all of your other fluids.
  • Have your battery tested to make sure it is keeping a charge.
  • Get the tread depth on your tires checked and have your tires properly inflated and rotated.
  • Check the condition of your wiper blades and replace them if they are damaged.
  • Get your brakes inspected to make sure there is plenty of wear left on them.
  • Have your mechanic make any other necessary repairs.
  • Clean your car out and reduce the clutter inside.

Pack Up an Emergency Safety Kit

Have some essential supplies in your vehicle in case of an emergency. Items to pack may include:

  • Warm blankets
  • Road flares
  • Extra stocking caps, scarfs and gloves
  • Heat warmers
  • Jumper cables
  • A flashlight
  • A first-aid kit
  • A bag of sand, rock salt, or cat litter are for traction on snow and ice if needed
  • Snacks and drinking water

Obtain Emergency Roadside Assistance

Before you go, make sure you are subscribed to some type of emergency roadside assistance. This could be through your auto insurance carrier, or it could be through an outside provider such as AAA. Also be sure to have the roadside assistance phone number handy; either write it down and keep it in an easily accessible place in the car, or load it into the contact list on your smartphone.

Get Plenty of Rest Before Traveling

Always be sure to have a good night sleep before going on a long road trip. Driving for several hours can make you very tired, and the last thing you want is to become drowsy or sleepy behind the wheel. For most adults, it is best to get at least seven hours of sleep before you leave on your trip.

What to Do If Injured in an Auto Accident During the Holidays

If you are involved in a car accident this holiday season, there are some steps you should take to ensure your safety and protect your legal rights:

  1. Seek Medical Attention

The first priority is to ensure that everyone who may have been hurt in the accident receives medical help right away. If there are injuries, call 911 and summon an ambulance to the scene. Some injuries are not easy to detect right away, such as whiplash and injuries to internal organs. If this was a high-impact collision, call for medical attention for everyone involved just to be on the safe side.

  1. Call the Police

The police should be called to the accident scene to ensure that an official report is filed. The police will investigate what happened, interview witnesses, etc. and put it all in their report. Be sure to review the report when you have a chance and check for any inaccuracies.

  1. Document as Much as Possible

Write down, in as much detail as you can, how the accident occurred. Do this as soon as possible, so everything is still fresh in your mind. In addition, take multiple photographs of the accident scene from various angles, and obtain the contact information for any individuals who may have seen what happened. Their testimony may be valuable later on if you end up pursuing an injury claim.

  1. Contact a Seasoned West Virginia Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney

If you or someone close to you was hurt or killed in an auto accident during the holidays, you may be entitled to compensation. Before speaking with the other party’s insurance company, get in touch with an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney who has in-depth experience with car accident injury cases can thoroughly review your case and advise you of your rights and options, so you can make the most informed decision regarding which legal avenue you want to pursue.

Contact The Experienced Car Accident Injury Attorneys at Bailey Javins & Carter

If you, or a loved one, has been injured in a car accident this holiday season, contact the experienced car accident injury attorneys at Bailey Javins & Carter. Contact our office at (304) 345-0346 or contact us online.