Commercial Truck Accident Lawyers in Charleston, WV
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
Overloaded trucks have put West Virginia roads at a breaking point. They have also put many other drivers at risk. Accidents involving coal, log, and gas drilling trucks continue to rise in our state, causing numerous deaths and serious injuries. When another vehicle collides with a large commercial truck that is overloaded, it is a mismatch that usually does not end well for occupants of the other vehicle. Accidents like these can result in serious and catastrophic injuries, and when they happen, victims deserve to be fully compensated.
Accidents Caused by Falling Debris and Overloaded Trucks
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.
An overloaded truck takes longer to stop and is harder to maneuver than one that is properly loaded. Unsecured items can become dangerous missiles, breaking car windshields and causing deaths and serious injuries.
Overloaded trucks can cause accidents for many of the following reasons:
- Brakes get worn because of the heavy weight and friction that results from overloading;
- Roads get damaged and even collapse because of the excessive weight of the truck;
- The excessive weight in the truck accelerates momentum when the truck is going downhill, and slows it down to a crawl when going uphill;
- Unevenly loaded trucks can shift the weight in the vehicle to the front or rear, throwing off the truck’s natural center of gravity;
- Overloaded or unevenly loaded trucks are more prone to jackknifing or rolling over due to sudden motions;
- Tires on the truck can blow out because of the excessive weight.
Faulty Truck Maintenance Attorneys
When a vehicle weighing upwards of 80,000 pounds takes to our mountain roads in West Virginia, it is very important for brakes and other equipment to be in proper working order. Big rig trucks (that are in full service) typically log thousands of miles over the road each month, and with so much wear and tear on these vehicles, you cannot afford to cut corners on truck maintenance. Unfortunately, some trucking companies are more focused on keeping the trucks on the road to keep up with demanding delivery schedules than making sure that they are properly maintained.
Some of the most common types of trucking equipment or system failures that can result in a vehicle accident include:
- Brake Lines
- Steering Systems
- Tires and Wheels
- Suspension Systems
- Trailer Attachments
Truck Accidents Caused by Brake Failure
Tractor-trailers use different braking systems than regular passenger vehicles. A passenger car uses hydraulic brakes, while a big rig truck uses air brakes. Hydraulic brake lines are too risky for 18-wheelers, because they could start leaking and make it impossible for a massive vehicle like this to stop.
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.
If you have been injured or a loved one killed in an accident involving a truck or commercial vehicle, our lawyers will ensure that maintenance records for that vehicle are collected and preserved, along with all other critical pieces of evidence. If we can determine that the vehicle was not properly maintained and/or the accident happened because of a vehicle defect, your negligence claim will become much stronger.
Oil & Gas Truck Accident Attorneys in West Virginia
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 Accident Attorneys in West Virginia
With the number of coal mines in 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.
Common Causes of West Virginia Coal Truck Accidents
On the road, coal truck accidents occur for the many of the same reasons as other types of truck accidents. These may include:
- Overloaded/Overweight Coal Trucks: In many cases, coal trucks are loaded down with too much weight to safely transport their goods from one place to another. This is done in order to save money by bringing more in each load, but it puts everyone on the road at greater risk of injury.
- Improperly Loaded Coal Trucks: In a rush to get the trucks loaded and off to their destination, some trucks are unevenly or otherwise improperly loaded. This can cause them to rollover or tip to their side when the truck encounters high winds, slippery roads, or other adverse conditions.
- Driver Negligence: A large number of coal truck accidents happen because of various types of driver negligence. This may include speeding and other forms of aggressive/reckless driving, distracted driving, drowsy driving, and chemical impairment. Drivers sometimes feel pressure from their employer to move faster in order to meet unrealistic deadlines and deliver their loads on time.
- Inadequate Maintenance: Coal trucks that make regular runs typically log thousands of miles bringing supplies to and from West Virginia mines every month. With so much wear and tear, it is critical that the truck be properly maintained. In many cases, however, there is subtle pressure to keep the trucks out there on the road, which can cause those who are responsible for maintenance to cut corners.
- Product Defects: Some coal truck accidents are caused by a faulty or defective truck part or system which causes a breakdown in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Some commercial truck accidents happen because the vehicle was not designed properly, or there are defective vehicle parts installed. As with maintenance problems, vehicle defects can also cause breakdowns leading to accidents.
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.
A thorough investigation will be necessary to uncover all of the critical facts and pieces of evidence in the case and explore every potential legal avenue toward recovering full and fair compensation.
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. These include:
- Bus Drivers
- Limo Drivers
- Tow Truck Drivers
- Couriers/Delivery Drivers
- Construction Workers
- Mining Workers
- Manufacturing Workers
- Quarrying Workers
- Logging Industry Workers
- Highway Construction Workers
- Utility Workers
- Train Conductors/Railroad Workers
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.
Who Do I Sue If I Was in an Accident with a Commercial Truck ?
Big rig accidents frequently involve multiple parties, making them among the most complicated types of personal injury cases to pursue. Some of the potential parties that may be at fault include:
- The driver of the truck;
- The truck or trailer owner or lessee;
- The trucking company that employs the driver;
- The cargo company that loaded the truck;
- The vehicle part designer, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor.
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:
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 as we talked about earlier, 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.