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.
At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., our attorneys represent people who have been injured in oil and gas truck accidents, and those who have suffered all other types of personal injuries in West Virginia. We also represent families who have lost loved ones in fatal accidents. Some of these transportation accidents are caused by the truck drivers, in which case they, their employers, and other parties could be at fault. There are also times when another vehicle crashes into an oil or gas truck and causes the accident.
Our attorneys have extensive experience with these types of cases, and we work closely with our clients to explore every potential legal avenue toward recovering maximum compensation. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. We have offices in Charleston, Logan and Summersville, and if you are physically unable to come to our office, we can come to you.
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
If you have been injured or a loved one killed due to an accident involving a heavy truck, our attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation to determine how the accident happened and who was responsible. This is the reason we have a civil justice system in West Virginia, to hold people accountable when their negligence kills or injures an innocent person.
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.
Pursuing an Oil and Gas Truck Injury Claim in West Virginia
Those who suffer injuries from an oil and gas truck accident that was someone else’s fault deserve to be fully compensated. Compensation in these types of cases will typically be pursued by negotiating a settlement with the responsible party or their insurer or filing a personal injury lawsuit against them. If the truck driver is the injured party, their claim could be against another driver who was responsible, or in some limited cases, against their employer if it can be proven that the accident is the result of the employer’s deliberate actions.
Compensatory damages in truck accident claims can be sought not only for direct monetary losses such as medical bills, lost earnings, and property damage, but also for noneconomic losses such as pain-and-suffering, psychological distress, diminished quality of life, disfigurement, and permanent disability. In rare cases in which the actions of the party responsible for the accident were especially egregious, punitive damages may also be awarded as punishment for their wrongdoing and to help discourage similar behaviors in the future.
In personal injury cases, West Virginia applies a modified version of the comparative negligence legal doctrine. In the Mountain State, an injured party can recover damages even if they are partially responsible for the accident, as long as they are less than 50% at fault. However, their damage award is reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault they share.
For example, if you sustained a total of $300,000 in losses from the accident and you are found to be 30% at fault, your damage award would be reduced by $90,000, for a total of $210,000. You can be sure that the other side will try to pin at least some of the blame on you in order to minimize the amount of compensation they have to pay, and this is one of many reasons it is important to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible. Otherwise, your right to recover maximum compensation could be jeopardized.
Free Initial Consultation with Our Oil and Gas Truck Accident Lawyers
If you or someone close to you suffered injury in a large truck accident in West Virginia, Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C. is here to help. Contact our firm to schedule a free consultation with an oil truck accident lawyer in Charleston, Logan or Summersville. We handle all truck injury and wrongful death cases, and we are ready to go to work for you!
We work on a contingency basis. We don’t get paid unless you do.