Commercial Truck Accident Lawyers in Charleston, WV
Charleston is at the intersection of rt. 77, rt. 79, rt. 64, and rt 119. With two Walmart Supercenters (one in Cross Lanes, and one in South Charleston), countless car dealerships along MacCorkle Ave, and countless shopping centers along Washington St, there is no short supply of commercial trucks driving through here. At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., we have more than 40 years of experience resolving accident claims involving trucks and commercial vehicles of all types.
The highways of West Virginia see a great deal of commercial vehicle traffic because of the industries that thrive here. Many cases involve:
- Overloaded Trucks
- Faulty truck maintenance accidents
- Oil and gas rig truck accidents
- Coal Trucks and Logging Trucks
- Transportation Workers
Overloaded Truck Accident Attorneys
State and federal traffic safety laws provide regulations not only for weight limits on trucks, but also for how cargo is distributed and secured. Drivers are required to inspect their cargo and make any needed adjustments within the first 50 miles after beginning a trip.
Unfortunately, some trucking companies look the other way when drivers ignore the law to make better time. By paying their drivers by the load, many trucking companies encourage their employees to overload their vehicles. When businesses increase their profits by putting overloaded trucks on the road, it is other drivers who pay the price.
Faulty Truck Maintenance Attorneys
Some of the most common types of trucking equipment or system failures that can result in a vehicle accident include:
- Brake Lines – A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) study found that more than a quarter of all tractor-trailers on the roads have brake safety problems.
- Steering Systems – If one part of the steering system fails, the driver may not be able to control the direction of the vehicle.
- Tires and Wheels – When tires are worn or the truck has a tire with a manufacturing defect, it can cause a blowout while the vehicle is hauling a load.
- Suspension Systems – A functional truck suspension is absolutely critical for helping the driver to maintain control of the vehicle, particularly when they are slowing down and applying the brake.
Who Can be Held Responsible for Faulty Truck Maintenance Crashes?
When faulty maintenance and/or truck equipment failure causes a vehicle to crash, a number of parties could be held responsible. These include:
- The Truck Driver: As mentioned previously, truck drivers are supposed to perform daily safety inspections. If the driver fails to perform the necessary inspections or they do not report the vehicle problems that they uncover, then they could be held liable for any accident that results from faulty truck maintenance.
- The Trucking Company: A trucking company can be held liable for inadequate truck maintenance if they fail to implement proper maintenance practices. If the company employs the driver, they can also be held responsible for the driver’s negligence.
- The Mechanic in Charge of Truck Maintenance: If a trucking accident results from faulty vehicle maintenance, the mechanic or auto shop that was responsible for maintaining the truck could be held liable for the accident. Poor servicing of a vehicle can take many forms; such as incorrect diagnoses, using the wrong vehicle part, improper installation, and many others.
- A Product Maker: There are times when truck equipment failure happens because of a faulty vehicle or vehicle part. As we talked about with the braking system, the brakes themselves could be defective, causing them to fail and the vehicle to crash. When this is the case, you might be able to file a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, distributor, or any other party within the product’s supply chain.
The Financial Consequences of a Truck Accident
The physical and mental consequences are a big part of the financial fallout of a truck accident. Medical care can put families into so much debt that they can’t see a way out—in fact, medical debt is one of the main causes of bankruptcy. The consequences are even more severe for those with catastrophic injuries.
In addition to the initial costs of medical care, they may need ongoing care, in-home nursing care, physical and occupational therapy for the rest of their lives, and constant pain management. Those who struggle with mental trauma from a truck accident may need ongoing therapy, psychiatric evaluations, and possibly even inpatient care.
The economic losses of a truck accident are also financially devastating. If the victim worked prior to the crash, they may lose out on decades of earnings if the crash forces them to stop working. That doesn’t just mean their salary—it also means their employment benefits, annual raises, and future growth opportunities. If a family member steps in to provide nursing care for the accident victim, they too may lose out on income opportunities and career growth. Over a lifetime, this can add up to millions.
Additionally, truck accidents are known for causing significant property damage. If a car makes it out of a crash in any salvageable state, repair costs are likely to be staggeringly high. It’s more likely for a car to be totaled, which means coming up with the money for an entirely new vehicle purchase.
Types of Truck Accidents:
Oil & Gas Truck Accidents
As beautiful as our mountains are in West Virginia, our unique topography has resulted in many narrow, winding roads. Add heavy truck traffic from trucks hauling water, fracking sand and other materials, and our roads have become increasingly dangerous. The oil and gas industry is booming in the Mountain State, but as the industry gets bigger, we are seeing more and more accidents involving large trucks across the state.
Coal Truck Accidents
With the number of coal mines in Charleston, West Virginia, it is not surprising that a substantial number of coal truck accidents occur every year. These accidents occur at the sites and on the road. Hardworking people are injured regularly because of the negligence of another party, leaving them with injuries that will affect their lives for years. When a person is injured by a coal or logging truck, it is important for them to protect their future from uncertainty.
Coal truck accident cases can be very complicated and challenging to pursue. There are several laws and regulations that govern the industry, and there are a number of parties that could share responsibility for the accident.
Transportation includes far more than just the over the road trucking industry, there are several other industries in which workers drive frequently and/or transport materials on a regular basis. Although serious injuries from vehicle crashes are one of the major risks that transportation industry workers face, these workers often experience other types of injuries or illnesses as well. For example, driving for long hours while being seated can result in a lot of back pain, and lifting heavy packages and materials can cause muscle strains and sprains, as well as various repetitive stress injuries.
Other Truck Accidents
Box trucks are also frequently used for “short hauling” – transporting cargo within the same city or metro area, or between two nearby cities. The maximum weight capacity of a box truck is generally around 15,000 pounds, compared with 80,000 pounds for a typical long-haul commercial rig.
Evidence You Need to Collect After a Truck Accident
After any traffic accident with injuries, there will be a police report on file. As soon as available, review the police report and correct any inaccuracies that may have occurred in the reporting. Here are some of the other crucial pieces of evidence that will be needed in order to lodge a successful trucking accident claim:
- Witness statements. Statements from credible witnesses who saw the accident happen can help confirm your version of events and reaffirm what the driver might have been doing wrong at the time of the crash.
- Photos and video footage of the crash. Many trucking companies these days have in-cab cameras installed to monitor driving behaviors – if this is the case, they need to be notified and told that this footage must be preserved.
- The truck’s black box. The truck’s event data recorder (aka “black box”) can provide helpful information such as how fast the truck was going at the time of the crash when the brakes were applied, and other indisputable data that will be very useful for reconstructing the accident.
- The trucker’s electronic logbook. Truckers are only allowed to drive for a certain number of hours before taking a break. And these records are now required to be recorded and maintained in an electronic logbook. This logbook should be reviewed to determine if the driver may have been in violation of federal Hours of Service regulations.
- The trucker’s personnel records. Trucking companies should have a personal file for all of their drivers that may show whether or not the driver was qualified to operate a commercial vehicle, had any medical conditions that inhibited their ability to drive, or had a history of drug or alcohol abuse, and similar information.
- The trucker’s cell phone records. It is important to obtain the driver’s cell phone records in order to determine if they were talking on the phone or sending a text at the time of the crash.
- Drug and alcohol test results. After the crash, the driver may be required to undergo alcohol and/or drug testing. This could show whether or not the driver was chemically impaired at the time of the accident.
- Vehicle maintenance records. Truckers and trucking companies are required to regularly inspect, maintain, and make necessary repairs to their vehicles to keep them in safe working order.
- Receipts of medical expenses. Save the receipts for all of your medical bills and related expenses, so they can be fully reimbursed.
- Proof of lost earnings. Gather all of your proof of lost wages for the work you have missed and expect to miss in the future because of the accident.
Things You Should Avoid Doing After a Truck Accident
Ignoring Your Injuries: If you feel any type of pain anywhere in your body after a trucking accident, you need to get medical attention right away. The adrenaline rush can mask the pain of an injury, and you may not feel it until later on. There are also internal injuries that can occur without someone even knowing it, and some of these injuries can even be life-threatening. No matter how you feel after a big rig accident, seek immediate medical help just to be on the safe side. If you do sustain any injuries, follow your doctor’s recommendations.
Admitting Fault for The Accident: Many people like to err on the side of taking responsibility for their actions, even if they are not entirely sure that they caused the problem. While this might be a good approach to life, admitting fault should absolutely be avoided in the aftermath of a truck accident.
Speaking About Your Accident Publicly: One mistake that many truck accident victims make is to discuss their accident on Facebook and other social media platforms. Again, this is understandable as you want to let your family and friends know what happened to you and to let them know that you are okay, but things you say on social media and in other online forums can be used by the other side and taken out of context to try to weaken your claim.
Pursuing Your Truck Accident Claim Alone: Perhaps the costliest mistake that victims of trucking accidents make is trying to handle their injury claim by themselves. Accidents involving large commercial trucks are far more complicated than standard vehicle accidents because of the numerous laws and regulations that govern the industry and the number of parties that could potentially be at fault for this type of accident.
What is a Fair Settlement in a Commercial Truck Accident?
What might be considered a “fair” settlement in one case may be too low in another case, and there is no set dollar amount that applies to every circumstance.
That being said, there are several different factors that are common to most truck accident cases that could greatly impact the settlement amount. These include:
Liability: One of the most important things that will be looked at after a trucking crash is who was at fault and what percentage of fault each party shares for the accident.
The Severity of Your Injuries: As you might expect, more serious accidents will typically result in higher settlement amounts.
Available Settlement Funds: Another important factor in determining the settlement amount of a truck accident is how much liability coverage is available from those involved. On average, a commercial truck that is operating in the US is going to carry around $1 million in liability insurance. But there could be other parties that hold responsibility for the accident.
Strength of Your Legal Claim: Because truck accident claims are usually highly contested, your settlement amount could be largely determined by the skills of your attorney, the legal strategies they use, their ability to develop a strong case, their ability to negotiate effectively, and similar factors. This again underscores the importance of choosing a firm that has in-depth experience pursuing commercial trucking accident claims and the proven ability to hold all responsible parties fully accountable.
We work on a contingent fee basis. We do not get paid unless you do.
Free Initial Consultation With a West Virginia Truck Accident Attorney
Our firm understands that a truck accident can result in serious injury. If your injury is caused by the neglect of another party, you should consult with an effective West Virginia attorney about your legal matter. If you need quality legal services, contact us to schedule a free initial consultation with our personal injury attorneys in Charleston, Logan or Summersville.