There’s no denying the fact that large commercial trucks are dangerous. Semitrailer trucks, 18-wheelers, big rigs, and other types of tractor-trailers are some of the heaviest and most massive vehicles found on West Virginia roads and highways. When these trucks are involved in accidents, the resulting devastation is almost always severe in nature and can cost lives. If you or a loved one was involved in a truck crash, a West Virginia truck accident lawyer can help your family recover.
It’s a simple fact that truck accident claims are incredibly difficult to fight in court since most trucking agencies boast powerful legal departments. It’s common for victims of truck wrecks to receive settlement offers that are far below what they are entitled to. If you’ve had this happen to you, you’re most likely finding it difficult to pay for medical costs and provide for your loved ones. These are the times when hiring a lawyer can do you and your family the most good.
The Complexities of Truck Accident Claims
When it comes to settling a personal injury case, truck accident claims are much different than car accidents claims. West Virginia and federal regulations require trucks to carry higher amounts of insurance coverage. Truck drivers are also required to meet higher safety standards than other drivers. When a trucking company or driver violates the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Act in any capacity, that individual or group is often held liable for an accident.
In many cases, the driver of a truck that causes a crash is likely at fault for the incident, but there are other parties that can be sued as well. At DiTrapano Barrett DiPiero McGinley & Simmons, PLLC, we investigate every aspect of your case to determine who is liable for your damages.
We may be able to file suit against:
- The driver
- The owner of the tractor-trailer
- The company identified on the big rig
- The loader of the truck
- The manufacturer of the vehicle
Trucking Accident Statistics
In 2014, over 3,900 people were killed in commercial truck accidents in the United States. 111,000 people were injured during that same year. Altogether, 438,000 trucks were involved in traffic collisions during 2014.
West Virginia’s statistics don’t look much better. In 2013, over 100 people were killed and another 500 injured because of tractor-trailer accidents in our state. The Wall Street Journal identified West Virginia as the eighth-worst state to drive in among every U.S. state. 15% of auto accidents in the state involve large trucks. These statistics are alarming in an era where vehicle safety is better than it’s ever been.
Commercial semi trucks have the capabilities of being outfitted with A.I.-assisted guiding mechanisms, motion-detective radar, blind spot cameras, guided GPS systems, and automatic brakes that can and do save lives nationwide in smaller passenger vehicles. Unfortunately, most commercial trucks are not outfitted with the latest technological advances. U.S. trucking regulations do not require them, so most agencies prefer to focus on profit instead. This is something that can absolutely change.
In addition, U.S. commercial trucks are not required to be outfitted with sideguards that could stop injuries and even death from occurring when a smaller passenger vehicle collides with the side carriage of a large truck. Regulations could force truck manufacturers to include these simple features that would help prevent almost 200 truck accident fatalities every year.
Common Causes of West Virginia Truck Accidents
There are common, identifiable links between most of the commercial truck accidents that happen in the state of West Virginia. Here are some of the most common causes behind these wrecks:
Unsafe Driving/Loading Techniques – Truck drivers often have tight deadlines they need to adhere to. They may choose to drive faster than is legal, for example, or try and drive in an unfamiliar area to cut corners. This can lead to an accident. Similarly, if a cargo loader places too much cargo in a semi truck or incorrectly loads the truck, that vehicle has a higher chance of rolling or toppling over.
Truck Driver Fatigue – Drivers are often encouraged to drive for long hours without taking breaks to reach their destinations quicker. Most trucking corporations have guidelines in place dictating how long a driver can be at the wheel before sleeping or taking a break, but a driver may choose to ignore these guidelines to finish a trip quicker or make up for lost time. Many truck drivers aren’t monitored in any way once behind the wheel.
Unsafe Vehicles – Commercial trucks are expensive to manufacture and maintain. As such, it’s common for trucking corporations to cut corners as often as possible when it comes to adhering to federal safety standards as well as proper truck maintenance. Cutting corners regarding truck safety comes with a heavy price, however, and that price is the safety of our nation. Defects are also common.
When a devastating truck accident is caused by any of the above factors, the U.S. court can hold the negligent driver or trucking corporation liable for the injuries caused. Truck drivers need to be held accountable for their actions—as well as the corporations that prioritize profit over the lives of others.
What to Do After an 18-Wheeler Accident
When you suffer the pain and shock of a severe truck accident and injury, it is natural to wonder what you should do next. We offer the following tips on what to do directly after such a crash:
- Seek immediate medical attention. It is crucial that you receive emergency medical services for any injuries incurred, even those that appear minor at first. Often, seemingly insignificant pain and discomfort can signify greater medical problems down the line, problems for which you should get compensation. Attend all follow-up appointments recommended by your physician, and keep detailed records of your visits, their outcomes, and your prognosis.
- Get information from the other drivers. For 18-wheeler accidents that involve multiple cars, get the names and contact information of all the other drivers and their insurance companies. If they were uninsured, be sure to write that information down as well. Most importantly, get contact and insurance information from the truck driver, as well as the company with whom he or she is employed.
- Take photographs. If possible, snap a few pictures with your cell phone camera or go back to the scene and take photos of where the crash occurred and what damage it did to your vehicle. Generally speaking, this type of evidence provides a more well-rounded, objective view of semi-truck accidents than mere words.
- Contact an attorney. Do not forget this crucial step. As soon as you are able, discuss your case with the West Virginia truck accident lawyers at DiTrapano Barrett DiPiero McGinley & Simmons, PLLC to determine what compensation you may be eligible for, and how to go about collecting it.
Immediately following an accident, insurance companies contact those involved to request a statement. The insurance company is hoping to use your words against you to limit liability of the defendant and reduce compensation. It is important to limit what you say, stick to simple facts, and have an attorney review any statements you may give.
Insurance companies may also ask questions about your activities before and after the accident, the medical treatment you received, injuries you sustained, and other damages incurred from the accident. Do not sign any forms authorizing access to your medical history and records, and refer all questions to a skilled injury law firm experienced in dealing with motor vehicle accidents.
How Our West Virginia Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help
If you were seriously injured in a truck accident, don’t start dealing with insurance companies right away. Instead, you need to hire a skilled team of lawyers who can investigate your situation and figure out the best way to proceed. Don’t risk getting an unfair settlement offer.
Truck drivers are required to maintain driving logs and are only allowed to drive for a certain number of hours per day to prevent fatigue. Also, truck owners are supposed to keep records regarding the maintenance of their vehicles. Our team can check these records and investigate police reports to determine whether there is any compelling evidence that could prove fault and assist you in achieving a just settlement or verdict. We can also examine GPS data and black box and/or engine computers to understand how the crash occurred.
We have more than 150 years of combined experience to use to your benefit. We use this experience in a collaborative way; our Charleston truck accident lawyers work together on each client’s case. In West Virginia, you only have two years to file a lawsuit against the person who injured you in a truck accident. This is a period referred to as the statute of limitations. Don’t less this period pass before you consider filing a claim. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.