Commercial Truck Accident Lawyers in West Virginia
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
- Truck driver injuries
- Fatal truck accidents
- 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.
With offices in Charleston, Logan and Summersville, the lawyers of Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., represent people throughout West Virginia who have been injured in truck accidents. We also represent families who have lost loved ones in fatal truck accidents. Our lawyers have several decades of experience successfully representing injury victims in West Virginia, and we have the knowledge, skills, resources, and commitment to help ensure that our clients recover the full and fair compensation they deserve. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
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.
Accidents Caused by Inadequate Maintenance and Trucking Equipment Failure
State and federal traffic safety laws provide regulations for how trucks and other commercial vehicles are maintained. For example:
- Components, such as brakes and lights, must be in safe and proper operating condition at all times.
- Motor carriers are required to maintain records of inspections, repairs and maintenance for each motor vehicle they control.
- Drivers are required to perform walk-around inspections at the beginning of each route and during stops.
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
The braking system is a critical component of every vehicle. If the brakes are not working properly, the vehicle may not be able to slow down or stop to avoid potential hazards, especially when it is traveling at a higher speed. As we talked about earlier, large commercial trucks put on a lot of miles in a given month, and the brakes can get worn down pretty quickly – especially when they are in a lot of stop and go traffic, which is very common when a truck is approaching its pickup or delivery destination.
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.
Air brakes are not full proof either, however. And when they fail, this can cause a vehicle imbalance (often resulting in a jackknife accident), or the brakes can get overheated and start the vehicle on fire. Brake failures like these can be caused by a failure to replace the braking system, faulty truck maintenance, or from defects with the brakes themselves.
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 this comes at a cost. And as the industry gets bigger, we are seeing more and more accidents involving large trucks across the state.
Liability and Truck Accidents
As oil and gas drilling grows in West Virginia, so does the number of trucks on our roads. To reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries in collisions involving trucks and smaller vehicles, trucking companies and drivers are required to follow a number of state and federal regulations. For example:
- Trucking companies are required to hire qualified drivers and provide them with proper training
- Drivers must take periodic rest breaks to reduce accidents caused by fatigue
- Equipment, such as brakes and lights, must be properly maintained
- Trailer loads must be secured so that other drivers are not injured by falling debris
Parties that Could be Responsible for Oil and Gas Truck Accidents
Accidents involving large commercial trucks such as those used in the oil and gas industry can be very complicated cases. As we touched on previously, there are several laws and regulations that govern the commercial trucking industry, and there are numerous potential factors that could contribute to an accident.
After an extensive investigation, we will often find that there are multiple parties who share responsibility for an oil and gas truck accident. These may include:
- One or More of the Drivers Involved: An oil and gas truck driver could be at fault for failing to follow the rules. For example, in an effort to stay on schedule, a driver may violate federal Hours of Service guidelines and stay on the road longer than they are legally allowed to. Commercial truckers are also in violation of regulations when they drink alcohol within four hours of going on duty and/or drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04% or above, and they are required to follow traffic laws. Another driver could also be at fault for various forms of negligent driving.
- The Truck Driver’s Employer: Some trucking companies fail to follow the rules by hiring unqualified drivers and/or not giving them adequate training. They might also impose unrealistic deadlines that encourage drivers to violate government regulations.
- The Party that Loads the Truck: Failure to properly secure trailer loads could put the responsibility for the accident on those who loaded the truck.
- The Truck Maintenance Company: Oil and gas trucks typically log thousands of miles per month bringing water, supplies, and materials to and from the job sites. With so much wear and tear, it is imperative that these trucks are properly maintained. When they are not, something could go wrong while in use, causing an accident with injuries.
- A Faulty Product Manufacturer: Sometimes, large truck accidents are caused by defective vehicles or vehicle parts that fail in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Some common examples include newly installed tires that blow out on the highway and newly installed brake lines that fail to stop the vehicle on a winding, mountain road. When this type of event happens, it may be possible to bring a product liability claim against the manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of the faulty product.
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. For example, a shipping company may overload a tractor-trailer in order carry more goods in a single load. They may also fail to follow proper loading procedures because they are in a hurry to get the truck back out on the road. An overloaded or unevenly loaded truck runs a greater risk of rolling over or tipping to its side when heavy winds, ice, and other adverse weather conditions arise.
- 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.
Truck drivers are on the road for many hours during the day, and they often drive during evening and overnight hours when there is less traffic on the highways. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), drowsy driving may be responsible for up to 6,000 traffic-related fatalities each year, and the CDC lists commercial drivers as one of the groups most susceptible to drowsiness or fatigue. Unfortunately, many drivers are under extreme pressure from their employers to stay on the road longer in order to meet unrealistic deadlines, and they are often encouraged to violate federal Hours of Service guidelines in the process.
Another way a driver may cut corners to stay on schedule is to exceed the speed limit or drive aggressively in other ways; such as tailgating, making unsafe lane changes, and making dangerous passing maneuvers. Aggressive or reckless driving always increases the risk of a collision, and this is especially true with large commercial vehicles that are more difficult to maneuver safely when adverse conditions arise.
- 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. Therefore, some commercial vehicles do not receive the level of maintenance that they are supposed to. This can lead to a mechanical breakdown, which can be a contributing factor in some trucking accidents.
- 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. Some examples include brand-new tires that blow out on the highway, new brake lines that fail to stop, and computers systems inside the vehicle that malfunction.
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. Some of the parties that could be held liable for a call truck accident include:
- The driver of the coal truck
- The coal truck owner
- The coal company
- The trucking company
- The party in charge of maintaining the truck
- The party in charge of maintaining the roadways
- The manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of a faulty truck or truck part
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.
Working in transportation is not an easy way to make a living. In fact, transportation accidents are among the leading causes of work-related fatalities in the United States. Approximately 40,000 Americans are killed and hundreds of thousands are seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents every year, so every time any one of us drives, we assume a certain amount of risk of an accident and injury. Given the sheer number of hours that transportation workers put in on the road, the dangers of workplace accidents are even higher.
Transportation Accident Injuries in West Virginia
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.
What Makes Truck Accidents Different
The risk of life-changing injury or death is far greater when a truck is involved. The sheer size difference between a truck and a car means that these cases are often tragic. In recognition of the dangers that trucks pose to those they share the highways with, a tremendous amount of regulations have been enacted by the state and federal government to ensure that these potentially dangerous vehicles are operated safely. There are regulations that dictate everything from vehicle inspection and maintenance to loading and unloading to the qualifications of drivers and the number of hours drivers can spend behind the wheel.
When you choose an attorney to handle a truck accident case, you want to make certain the one you choose is familiar with these regulations. We are. We know that our investigation of your case may reveal that corners have been cut and rules have been broken. We often find that, not only were rules broken, but attempts were made to cover up the violation. We know how to deal with falsified logbooks and other information to build a case on facts. Our attorneys will make certain that negligent truck drivers and trucking companies are held 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.