Car accidents are among the leading causes of injury and death in West Virginia and throughout the United States. Despite efforts to enhance road safety, collisions keep increasing each year. If you experience a wreck, a Charleston, WV car accident lawyer can assist you and your loved ones.

Overview of Fatal Crashes in West Virginia, 2020

In 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that there were 267 car accident fatalities. Of those:

  • 76 people were killed in accidents involving alcohol, making up 29% of the total fatalities.
  • 75 of those killed in 2020 were passenger car occupants.
  • 102 of those killed were light-truck occupants and 10 were from large trucks.
  • 60 or 22% of fatalities were caused by speed-related accidents, a decrease of 9% from 2019.
  • 38 motorcyclists were killed in collisions and 18 pedestrians.
  • While traffic fatalities as a whole rose only 2.7% from 2019, alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities rose a shocking 35.7% from the previous year.
  • The age group with the highest number of traffic fatalities was 35 to 44.
  • 45 people were killed in rollover accidents.
  • The months of August and December saw the highest number of fatal crashes.
  • Most fatal accidents occurred on Saturdays and between the hours of 3:00 p.m. to 5:59 p.m.

Which Types of Roadways Saw the Most Lethal Collisions?

# of Crashes Deaths Highway Closest City Exits
26 31 I-81 Martinsburg Between 8 and 13
22 27 I-77 Princeton Between Eads Mill and Beckley Rd
22 24 US-60 South Charleston Between Richmond St and I-64
22 23 WV-16 Beckley Between Cross St and Maxwell Hill Rd
20 22 I-64 Beckley Between 40 and 45
19 24 US-50 Salem Between CR-50/28 and Halls Run Rd
19 20 I-64 Huntington Between 8 and CR-34/6
19 20 WV-9 Hedgesville Between Rumbling Rd and Log Home Dr
18 21 US-119 Madison Between Prichard Rd and Brown Branch Rd
18 19 US-340 Charles Town Between WV-9 and Shoreline Dr
17 18 I-79 Morgantown Between the Pennsylvania border and 155
17 17 I-81 Martinsburg Between 8 and Henshaw Rd

Seatbelt Usage in Fatal West Virginia Crashes, 2020

In West Virginia, the lack of seat belt usage has been a significant factor in fatal car accidents. According to available data from 2020:

  • 47.5% or 84 of all traffic fatalities were individuals who were not wearing seat belts at the time of the accidents.

This statistic underscores the critical importance of seat belt usage for preventing severe injuries and fatalities in car accidents. Seat belts are a simple yet effective safety measure that can significantly reduce the risk of ejection and mitigate the impact of collisions. It is crucial for both drivers and passengers to buckle up every time they are in a vehicle, regardless of the distance being traveled.

Use of Seat Belts & Restraints in Fatal West Virginia Crashes, 2020

Breakdown of Victim Demographics in Fatal West Virginia Crashes

In fatal car accidents in West Virginia, various demographic factors can provide insights into the characteristics of victims. While specific data can vary from year to year, here is a general breakdown of 2020’s data:

Age Groups

The age distribution of victims in fatal car accidents can vary, but adults between 35 and 44 were the most vulnerable. The statistics are as follows:

West Virginia Traffic Fatalities by Age, 2020

Person Type

Here is a breakdown of victim demographics in fatal car accidents based on different person types:

  • Drivers: 170 of the individuals killed in 2020 traffic accidents were driving, which is 63.7% of the total fatalities.
  • Passengers: 37 or 13.9% were passengers traveling in vehicles.
  • Motorcyclists: 38 (14.2%) motorcyclists were killed.
  • Pedestrians: 18 pedestrians were hit and killed by vehicles.
  • Pedalcyclists: 3 people on pedal bikes suffered fatal injuries.

What Role Did Alcohol Play in Lethal Collisions?

A significant percentage of fatal car accidents in West Virginia were attributed to drivers operating vehicles while under the influence of alcohol.

  • Percentage of Alcohol-Related Fatalities: A shocking 68% of drivers involved in fatal collisions had alcohol in their system.
  • Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: There were 180 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in West Virginia. These fatalities involve accidents where at least one driver had alcohol in their system.
  • BAC Levels: 
    • 14 people were killed in accidents where a driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between .01 to .07.
  • 76 people were killed in crashes involving a driver who had a BAC at or above the legal limit of .08.
  • An alarming 90 people were killed in accidents where a driver had a BAC well above the legal limit of .01 or higher.

Alcohol impairs a driver’s ability to make sound judgments, react quickly, and focus on the road. It can also affect motor skills and coordination. As a result, alcohol can greatly increase the likelihood of an accident. Accidents also tend to be more severe when alcohol is involved due to impaired reflexes and decision-making. This can lead to higher rates of fatalities and serious injuries compared to accidents where drivers are sober.

Which Types of Motor Vehicles Were Most Likely to be Involved in a Deadly Wreck?

In West Virginia, different types of motor vehicles are more likely to be involved in fatal crashes based on available data. While specific statistics can vary from year to year, here are some general trends from 2020:

Passenger Cars

Passenger cars are commonly involved in fatal crashes due to their high prevalence on the roads. They made up 30.6% (75) of the vehicles involved in these deadly crashes.

Light Trucks

Light trucks have become increasingly popular in West Virginia and are the leading vehicle in this category as they were involved in 41.6% of fatal accidents.

Large Trucks and Commercial Vehicles

Large trucks, including commercial vehicles and tractor-trailers, were surprisingly only involved in 4.1% of deadly accidents.


Severe motorcycle accidents are often fatal due to their smaller size and lack of protective barriers, and made up 15.5% of the vehicles in lethal collisions.

Taking Legal Action After a Fatal Car Crash in West Virginia

In West Virginia, the representative of a deceased person’s estate has the right to file a wrongful death claim against the parties responsible for a fatal car crash. This claim seeks compensation for financial losses, such as medical expenses, funeral costs, and lost income, as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Although the personal representative of the deceased’s estate must file the lawsuit, surviving family members or dependents will receive the proceeds of any settlement or award.

If your loved one was involved in a fatal car accident, speak to a trusted Charleston, WV wrongful death lawyer today. They can help protect your rights and ensure you and your family recover the compensation you deserve.