Large commercial trucks are the lifeblood of West Virginia’s economy. Unfortunately, these commercial vehicles can also lead to significant injuries or fatalities for victims when an accident occurs. At Tiano O’Dell, PLLC, our Charleston truck accident lawyers have extensive experience helping victims throughout West Virginia. Our team has the resources necessary to conduct a full investigation into your case and secure the coverage you are entitled to. We are not afraid to stand up to aggressive insurance carriers in order to secure the compensation you are entitled to.
Why Choose Tiano O’Dell, PLLC?
After sustaining a severe injury in a truck accident in the Charleston, WV area, you need a Charleston personal injury attorney you can trust both personally and professionally. Tiano O’Dell, PLLC is standing by to help.
- Our Charleston truck accident lawyers have more than 20 years of experience handling serious injury cases for clients.
- Our firm has the resources necessary to handle the toughest truck accident cases in Charleston, and we are not afraid to take on aggressive trucking companies or insurance carriers.
- Founding partners William Tiano and Tony O’Dell have earned recognition as Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the American Trial Lawyers Association and West Virginia Super Lawyers.
- We take Charleston truck accident cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that our client will not pay any legal fees until after we secure the compensation they are entitled to.
Charleston Truck Accident Resources
- Why Hire a Charleston Truck Accident Lawyer?
- Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Charleston
- Common Truck Accident Injuries
- Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident Lawsuit
- Who Can Be Held Liable for a Truck Crash?
- What Damages Can I Collect For a Truck Accident in Charleston?
- Time Limit For Filing A Charleston Truck Accident Claim
- What to Look for in a Truck Accident Lawyer
- Charleston Truck Accident FAQs
- Contact a Charleston, West Virginia Truck Accident Attorney
Why Hire a Charleston Truck Accident Lawyer?
Unfortunately, most truck accident victims in the Charleston area will not have the legal knowledge or resources necessary to secure full compensation for their claims. Truck accidents can become very complicated, but an attorney will have the knowledge, experience, and resources to give your case the greatest chance of succeeding and securing maximum compensation. An accident attorney in Charleston will be able to:
- Obtain any evidence needed to prove liability, including any video surveillance of the incident, statements from eyewitnesses, accident reports, truck “black box” data, and more.
- Handle negotiations with aggressive insurance carriers in an effort to secure the compensation you are entitled to.
- Ensure you are evaluated by a trusted medical professional that can determine the full extent of your injuries.
- Work with trusted economic and financial experts to determine the true short- and long-term costs of your injuries.
Your Charleston, West Virginia truck accident lawyer is going to be your ally and your advocate when dealing with other parties after a serious crash.
Common Causes of Charleston Truck Accidents
Truck accidents can occur in a variety of ways in and around the Charleston area. Liability could fall to drivers of passenger vehicles, trucking companies, truck drivers, and others.
Trucking Company Negligence
Trucking companies have a tremendous responsibility to ensure their vehicles are safe for others on the roadway. This includes following all requirements set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), such as:
- Ensuring vehicles are regularly inspected and properly maintained. These vehicles are incredibly large and weigh much more than traditional passenger cars. Properly maintaining a large commercial truck is more difficult than maintaining regular vehicles. The FMCSA has strict rules about how often these vehicles have to be maintained and record-keeping pertaining to the maintenance.
- Ensuring all drivers are properly trained and licensed. Every commercial truck driver in West Virginia should have their commercial driver’s license (CDL). Trucking companies should conduct thorough background checks on every new hire and make sure that they are trained to properly operate the vehicles. This could include apprenticeships or shadowing programs.
- Not allowing any driver to operate outside of the required hours of service. The federal government sets strict regulations for how long drivers can operate during each workday and during a workweek. These regulations are incredibly important when it comes to ensuring that drivers do not operate while fatigued. In some cases, truck companies turn a blind eye to drivers who ignore these regulations in an attempt to pad their bottom line.
- Not allowing the truck to be overloaded with cargo under any circumstances. If a large commercial truck is not properly loaded, or if the vehicle is overloaded beyond weight capacity, this could lead to severe accidents caused by an inability of the truck to stop or an imbalanced load.
Common Trucking Safety Violations
Unfortunately, trucking companies and truck drivers sometimes violate traffic laws and federal and state regulations. At Tiano O’Dell, PLLC, our Charleston truck accident lawyers often discover that these incidents occur because of a driver:
- Was operating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The blood alcohol content (BAC) legal level for commercial truck drivers in West Virginia is .04%. Aside from alcohol, there are a number of illegal and over-the-counter drugs that could lead to impairment behind the wheel.
- Failed to follow traffic laws, including those specific to the commercial truck activity. Commercial truck drivers have to abide by all traffic laws, including those specific to commercial trucking activity. There are certain roadways where truckers can and cannot operate.
- Was operating the truck too fast for conditions. Due to the sheer weight of these vehicles, operating too fast for conditions can lead to disastrous consequences. When a driver is operating above the speed limit or too fast for current weather conditions, they can have trouble slowing down, which can lead to major accidents.
- Failed to follow the FMCSA hours of service and operated while fatigued. Drivers who tried to push their limits when it comes to how many hours they operate each day will most likely end up operating while fatigued, and this could lead to major accidents.
- Was operating while distracted by their phone or other devices while driving. Just like any other driver, commercial truck operators can become distracted by their phones, other electronic devices, GPS, CB radios, eating and drinking, and more. Distracted driving it’s dangerous for every party on the roadway.
Most Common Truck Accident Injuries
Injuries caused by truck accidents in Charleston, WV are often severe. According to the FMCSA, a fully loaded semi-truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. When we compare this to a traditional passenger vehicle that has an average weight of 4,000, it is easy to see why these crashes result in such devastating injuries.
It is not uncommon for the Charleston truck accident lawyers at Tiano O’Dell to help clients who have sustained the following injuries:
- Spinal cord trauma with paralysis
- Other severe neck or back injury
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken or dislocated bones
- Severe lacerations or puncture wounds
- Crash injuries or amputations
- Internal organ damage or internal bleeding
Our Charleston truck accident lawyers are also cognizant of the emotional and psychological harm that these incidents can have on victims. While these injuries may not be as visible as physical trauma, they are just as real and can have devastating impacts on a person’s ability to function.
Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Negligence is a party’s failure to provide the care expected of them in a given situation, resulting in injury or losses. To hold another party responsible for causing a truck accident, you must be able to prove the following four elements of negligence:
- Duty of Care: The defendant (at-fault party) must have owed the plaintiff (injury victim) a duty of care. For example, a truck driver has a duty to others on the road to drive safely and follow traffic and federal laws.
- Breach of Duty: The defendant breached their duty of care by failing to act how another reasonable person would in a similar situation—for example, a breach of duty of care could be driving a truck while texting or under the influence of alcohol.
- Causation: The defendant’s actions are directly linked to the plaintiff’s harm. In other words, you would not have been injured but for the defendant’s behavior—for example, if the truck driver had been paying attention instead of texting, they would not have run a red light and crashed into your vehicle.
- Damages: The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. (e.g., medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, etc.)
Proving the elements of negligence will require substantial evidence gathered from the scene of the accident, such as photos and witness statements, the truck’s black box, the police report, vehicle examinations, employment records, and more.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Truck Crash?
Several parties may be liable after a truck accident, including:
- The Truck Driver: If the truck driver’s negligence caused your accident, you can file an insurance claim directly with their insurer. Examples of when a truck driver can be liable include if they were driving recklessly, speeding, made an abrupt lane change, was driving while intoxicated, or talking or texting on the phone.
- The Trucking Company: If the truck driver is employed by a trucking company, their employer can be vicariously liable for their negligent actions. Additionally, the trucking company can be responsible if their negligent acts contributed to the accident. For instance, failing to complete background checks on drivers, failing to provide adequate training, failing to schedule regular vehicle inspections and maintenance, etc.
- Loading Companies: Companies that load cargo onto commercial trucks can be liable in some cases if the way they loaded the cargo contributes to a crash. For example, if cargo was unsecured or loaded unevenly, causing a shift and leading the driver to lose control.
- Mechanics: If negligent repairs performed on a truck by a mechanic lead to a collision, the mechanic can be partially or entirely liable. Examples of negligent repairs include installing incorrect parts, making unnecessary or the wrong repairs, failure to identify necessary repairs, allowing an untrained technician to perform repairs, etc.
- Defective Parts Manufacturer: If a truck or one of its parts is defective, leading to an accident, the truck’s manufacturer may be liable for damages. Examples of defects include defective tires that cause blowouts, brake failure, steering issues, and more.
This is not an exhaustive list, as there may be other or multiple liable parties depending on the facts unique to each truck accident.
What Damages Can I Collect In a Charleston Truck Accident?
If you or somebody you love has been injured in a Charleston commercial truck accident caused by the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company, there may be various types of compensation available for your case. By working with a trusted attorney from Tiano O’Dell, PLLC, you may be able to recover the following:
- Full coverage of medical bills related to the truck crash
- Compensation for any lost income if you cannot work
- Compensation for any medical devices or prescription medications necessary
- Coverage of any physical therapy or rehabilitation you need
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of personal enjoyment damages
- Property damage expenses
If the truck driver or trucking company were grossly negligent in the incident that caused your injuries, we will work to secure punitive damages as well.
Time Limit For Filing A Charleston Truck Accident Claim
It is crucial for Charleston, WV truck accident victims to understand that they have a limited amount of time to file these claims in court. The West Virginia personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date injury occurs. This means that truck accident victims have a two-year window with which to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent truck driver or trucking company. If they fail to file a lawsuit within this time frame, they will likely lose the ability to recover the compensation they are entitled to.
However, please understand that any insurance carriers involved in these claims will have a much shorter time frame. Most auto and truck insurance carriers have reporting deadlines of a day or two after a crash occurs. Failing to promptly report the accident to these insurance carriers could result in a claim delay or denial.
What to Look for in a Truck Accident Lawyer
Choosing the right truck accident lawyer is critical, as it can significantly impact whether you recover fair compensation. Here are some tips on what to look for:
Choose a truck accident lawyer specializing in personal injury law and with extensive experience with truck accident cases. Your attorney must know how to bring a claim against at-fault truck drivers and trucking companies. In addition, experience in negotiating, representing clients at trials, and taking on potentially complex truck accident cases is also essential.
Successful Track Record
A truck accident lawyer should have a solid track record of success. The higher the number of cases that have resulted in a settlement or award, the better. However, you do not want a lawyer who has a very high client turnover rate, as they often settle claims quickly for less than their actual value.
No Upfront Fees
When a lawyer takes your case on a contingency fee basis, they believe you have a good chance of winning and will work hard to make sure you recover compensation.
Time to Dedicate to Your Case
You need an attorney who has the time required to give your case the attention it deserves to ensure its success, especially when liability is disputed, or there are multiple liable parties.
Charleston Truck Accident FAQs
Q: How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Most truck accident lawyers, including Tiano O’Dell, PLLC, accept cases on a contingency fee basis. When you enter into a contingency fee agreement, there are no upfront fees, and you only owe legal fees if you recover compensation. If you win, we will take a percentage of your recovery.
Q: How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Trucking Accident Claim?
Since each case is unique, the length of time a truck accident claim takes to resolve will vary, as some take months and others take years. Examples of factors that can prolong settlement include when liability is disputed, your injuries are severe, whether the insurance company will negotiate, etc.
Q: How Much Time Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Claim?
West Virginia has a law known as the statute of limitations that sets a deadline on how long truck accident victims have to file a claim. Under this law, you have two years to pursue compensation, or you will be barred from a recovery.
Q: What Should I Do After Being Injured in a Truck Accident?
There are specific steps to take after an injury accident with a large truck:
- Get medical treatment. You may need to call 911 to be immediately taken to the hospital. On the other hand, if your injuries seem minor, it is still critical to be fully evaluated by a medical provider. Some severe injuries can take time to show symptoms.
- Notify the police. Still report the accident to law enforcement even if emergency medical care is not needed. A police report can be critical when an insurance company is deciding fault.
- Preserve any evidence from the crash. If you can remain at the scene, collect any potential evidence, including photos and video of the scene, surrounding area, the damage to the vehicles, and ask for contact information from the parties involved and any witnesses.
- Speak to a truck accident lawyer. Contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. They will begin investigating and gathering crucial evidence to hold liable parties accountable. They will also handle all communication with insurance companies on your behalf and ensure you recover fair compensation.
Contact a Charleston, West Virginia Truck Accident Attorney
If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of a truck driver or trucking company in Charleston, West Virginia, contact an attorney immediately. At Tiano O’Dell, PLLC, we are going to stand by your side throughout your entire case. Our truck, car, and motorcycle accident lawyers in Charleston are not afraid to stand up to aggressive insurance carriers or trucking companies, and we will work diligently to secure full compensation for your losses. To schedule your free consultation, contact us online or call (304) 720-6700.