Commercial trucks and tractor-trailers are some of the largest and most inherently dangerous vehicles on the road. They are integral parts of the American economy and deliver millions of pounds of cargo every day. All drivers should understand the inherent risks these vehicles present on the road. When truck accidents happen, they typically cause significant damage and substantial economic losses to everyone involved.
If you or a loved one recently suffered damages from a crash in West Virginia, contact Tiano O’Dell, PLLC to schedule a free consultation so together we can hold the trucking company liable for the damage or death they caused.
Why Choose Our Law Firm?
Hiring an attorney for a truck accident is a major decision, so you need to have confidence that the attorney you choose can handle the complexities of your case and guide you to a favorable result.
- Our attorneys have more than two decades of experience handling all types of civil claims for our clients in West Virginia.
- Our firm has the resources necessary to handle the toughest truck accident cases, and we are not afraid of trucking companies’ attorneys and insurance companies.
- We offer free consultations to potential new clients so they can better understand their legal options before committing to legal representation.
- 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 personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only collect legal fees when we win, and we never charge any up-front costs to our clients.
Tiano O’Dell, PLLC is home to some of the most well respected West Virginia truck accident lawyers, thanks to our legal acumen and consistent dedication to helping our clients recover after suffering injuries from the negligence of others. We will fight for your compensation so you can hold the trucking industry accountable for your medical bills.
West Virginia Truck Accident Resources
- Do I Need a West Virginia Truck Accident Lawyer?
- Truck Accident Statistics
- Who Is Held Liable For a Truck Accident in West Virginia?
- Common Causes of Truck Accidents
- Collecting and Preserving Evidence as Soon as Possible
- What Compensation Is Available For Truck Accident Victims In West Virginia?
- Severe injuries and Truck Insurance Policy Limits
- Contact Our West Virginia Truck Accident Lawyers
Do I Need a West Virginia Truck Accident Lawyer?
A truck accident case may seem simple at first, but these accidents often involve more than one liable party, and an injured driver may potentially bear partial liability as well. An injured driver may believe that he or she can manage self-representation and secure compensation without hiring an attorney, but the average person with no legal experience will likely not have the time, resources, or energy to handle a lawsuit while recovering from injuries sustained in a truck accident. Hiring an attorney often means peace of mind; the victim can recuperate from his or her injuries while the attorney handles his or her legal issues.
A truck accident attorney can help an injured client build his or her case, represent the client in court, and even negotiate with insurance companies on the client’s behalf. Hiring an attorney typically means the client not only has a greater chance of successfully obtaining compensation but also receiving more compensation than he or she could have secured without an attorney.
Truck Accident Statistics
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2017, the following statistics emerged:
- 13,212,447 large trucks and buses registered
- 3,212,347 miles traveled by all motor vehicles
- 4,889 large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes
- 5,005 total fatalities in large truck and bus crashes
There are many causes of semi-truck accidents. A fully loaded 18-wheeler may weigh 70,000 – 80,000 lbs, compared to the mere 3,000 or 4,000 pounds of a car. When a loaded truck goes into a sudden skid, the trailer and the cab swing out at an angle, potentially causing numerous other accidents and pileups. It is important to obtain a legal consultation in order to better understand your options and the compensation that may be available to you.
FMCSA Regulations For Truck Drivers & Companies
FMCSA regulations include the following:
- Driver must be properly tested for drugs and alcohol
- Driver must drive a limited, specific maximum number of hours per day and per week, according to the regulations
- Driver must keep a daily driving log; failure to do so is in violation of the regulations
- Driver must be properly trained and assessed for truck driving skills
- Records must be properly preserved
- Background checks must be conducted for the truck driver
- Driver must have a current, updated commercial driver’s license
- Driver must comply with state commercial driver’s license program
- Specific guidelines exist for the transportation of hazardous materials; they must be strictly complied with
- Truck must be properly maintained, including controls, display, transmission shift, transmission brake, windshield defroster and defogger, windshield wipers and washers, hydraulic and electric brakes, brake hoses, lamps, reflective devices, pneumatic specialty equipment, rearview mirrors, tire safety, brake fluid, air brake systems and much more
Who is Held Liable For a Truck Accident in Virginia?
Commercial truck drivers, truck owners, truck management companies, vehicle maintenance companies, parts manufacturers, cargo loading companies, and many other parties may all potentially be liable for their part in a commercial truck accident. While a seasoned Charleston, WV personal injury attorney experienced in truck accidents will be able to provide further insight regarding liability, the following is good to know:
- Commercial trucking companies are required to conduct in-depth background checks on their drivers.
- Truck drivers must complete specific training to become certified to drive.
- Drivers are permitted to drive only a specific number of hours per day and per week.
- Truck drivers and commercial vehicle operators must maintain thorough, accurate, and honest driving logs.
- Federal motor carrier safety regulations must be strictly followed.
Truck drivers and their employers owe the public a duty to drive according to specific rules and guidelines for safety purposes. Many accidents are caused when these rules are not followed. For example, if the truck driver drives more than the allowed number of hours, he or she may be fatigued, which can lead to catastrophic accidents. The Charleston, West Virginia truck accident attorneys at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC have extensive knowledge of federal regulations and will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the negligence that contributed to your accident and consequent injuries.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents happen for various reasons. Any claim will entail a thorough investigation, and the cause of the accident usually determines liability for the resulting damages.
Trucking companies must ensure their drivers have the requisite experience before assigning them routes. Oversteering, negligent application of vehicle brakes, taking sharp turns too fast, or failing to signal lane changes and turns can lead to serious accidents. Truck drivers should know how to drive safely for conditions, manage changing road conditions, and navigate unfamiliar areas.
Truck drivers face demanding schedules, but they must not drive without adequate rest and regular breaks. Additionally, truck drivers have a higher duty of care than other drivers on the road due to the dangerous nature of their vehicles and must drive safely at all times. Aggressive driving, speeding, inattention, and moving violations can all cause accidents.
Trucking companies must ensure their large trucks receive appropriate regular maintenance. Failure to perform maintenance or inadequate maintenance can easily lead to catastrophic breakdowns and accidents. Brakes and tires are some of the most common sources of accident-causing maintenance problems. The party responsible for the truck’s maintenance would likely absorb liability for such an accident.
Damaged road surfaces and debris can cause truck accidents, and liability typically falls to the government office responsible for the care and upkeep of the road where the accident occurred.
Tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles are larger and taller than typical passenger vehicles and therefore, have higher centers of gravity. This makes these vehicles more vulnerable to tip-over and rollover accidents, especially if their cargo loads have not been properly balanced.
Poor Cargo Security
Some commercial vehicles carry special types of cargo that cannot fit within standard trailers. Concrete pipes, construction supplies, timber, and smaller vehicles require specialized safety equipment or even specialized trailers. Failure to properly secure special types of cargo can easily lead to a catastrophic accident.
Defective Vehicles and Parts
If a product manufacturer releases a defective part that causes an accident, anyone injured in the accident would likely have grounds for a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
Negligent Third Parties
Aggressive drivers, drunk drivers, or speeding drivers can easily cause an accident involving a commercial truck and other vehicles, and liability for such an incident would fall to the negligent third party responsible for the accident.
The reality is that trucking accidents happen for various reasons, but the common denominator among all truck accidents is they generally cause significantly more damage than collisions between smaller passenger cars. Truck accident victims often sustain severe injuries and substantial economic losses.
Collect and Preserve Evidence As Soon As Possible
Obtaining evidence is critical to demonstrate that the defendant’s misconduct caused the accident and, ultimately, the claimant’s injuries and damages. Evidence of egregious conduct may lead to additional compensation for punitive damages, as discussed in more detail below. Unfortunately, truck accidents are not like regular automobile accidents, and finding and preserving evidence can be complicated. However, an experienced truck accident attorney knows how to discover important evidence and ensure that it is preserved for use during settlement negotiations and trial.
When too much time passes after an accident, evidence often goes missing or is otherwise not discoverable. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible is critical to your truck accident claim so that your attorney can begin the investigation process right away. Evidence and information that is often collected in truck accident cases includes the following:
- Information stored in the truck’s black box, such as the speed the truck was traveling and whether or not the driver applied the brakes before the accident.
- Information related to the driver’s hours of service in driving logs, electronic data, GPS data, and other record-keeping devices.
- Cell phone records to determine if the driver was texting or otherwise distracted when the accident occurred.
- Video evidence of the accident and events leading up to it from truck recordings, nearby surveillance video, and cell phone footage.
- Statements from accident witnesses.
- The truck’s maintenance records to determine if any negligent maintenance or repairs contributed to the accident.
- Records related to the driver’s employment training and licensing to ensure that they were fit and prepared to drive a commercial truck.
- The truck driver’s driving history of speeding tickets, other moving violations, and accidents. Trucking companies have a duty to vet their drivers before putting them on the road.
- Drug and alcohol testing records. Truck drivers are held to a higher standard than regular motor vehicle drivers, and they are required to go through drug and alcohol testing as part of their employment.
What Compensation is Available For Truck Accident Victis in West Virginia?
After a truck accident victim identifies the party or parties responsible for his or her truck accident, a lawsuit against the liable party can potentially yield compensation to help the victim recover his or her losses. A truck accident victim can claim compensation for any and all damages resulting from the accident.
Truck accidents can cause severe injuries, some of which will require long-term treatment or result in permanent disability. The plaintiff in a truck accident lawsuit can claim compensation for immediate medical expenses like hospital bills, ambulance fees, or emergency airlift fees. A plaintiff can also secure compensation for future medical expenses resulting from the accident such as necessary physical therapy or other rehabilitative treatments.
A truck accident may leave a victim unable to work for a long time due to his or her injuries. A plaintiff in a truck accident lawsuit can claim compensation for lost income during recovery time, but it is also possible to secure compensation for lost future earnings if a truck accident leaves the victim completely unable to work in the future. The plaintiff’s attorney will likely call upon an expert witness with financial experience to testify to the plaintiff’s lost future earning potential.
A truck accident can easily destroy a smaller vehicle. Plaintiffs in truck accident lawsuits can recover compensation for vehicle repair or replacement costs as well as compensation for the value of expensive personal belongings damaged or destroyed in a truck accident.
Pain and Suffering
The justice system allows personal injury victims to recover compensation for non-economic damages like physical pain, emotional anguish, and mental suffering. A truck accident can be a physically damaging and highly traumatic experience, and plaintiffs generally receive pain and suffering compensation that reflects the severity of their injuries and other damages.
In some cases, the defendant in a truck accident may have engaged in illegal or highly negligent behavior that extends beyond the scope of typical negligence. The jury may award punitive damages to further punish the defendant and discourage similar behavior in the future.
The right truck accident lawyer can help an injured client recover his or her losses from a truck accident.
Severe Injuries and Truck Insurance Policy Requirements
Due to the size and weight of large commercial trucks, injuries are often severe and catastrophic. Unfortunately, pedestrians, bicyclists, and smaller vehicle occupants typically sustain the most significant injuries in truck accident cases. Common truck accident injuries include:
- traumatic brain injuries
- muscle and ligament tears
- fractured bones
- spinal cord injuries
- severed limbs
- soft tissue damage
The injuries can require long-term and sometimes lifelong medical care. If you settle your claim without accounting for past, current, and future injuries and damages, you might be left with large out-of-pocket medical expenses.
The trucking industry is governed by federal and state law. Commercial trucks are required to carry minimum insurance policy limits depending on several factors, such as the weight and type of freight transported in the truck. Insurance requirements are designed to protect those injured in truck accidents so that they are fully compensated for their losses. Insurance policy requirements can be as little as $300,000 for trucks with lower vehicle weights and as much as $5,000,000 under other circumstances, such as heavy trucks hauling hazardous materials. Additionally, shippers and brokers may require trucks to carry higher insurance premiums than state and federal laws require.
Contact Our West Virginia Truck Accident Lawyers For a Free Consultation
Tiano O’Dell, PLLC has received the distinction of the Preeminent Client Review Rating and Distinguished Peer Review Rating. These ratings are a respected mark of achievement and were earned by superior client service – and by getting results. If you were injured in a truck accident, it is vital to obtain the legal counsel of an aggressive and compassionate West Virginia truck accident attorney as soon as possible.
At our Charleston law firm, our attorneys are plaintiffs’ rights lawyers and we firmly believe that you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. We also feel that the responsible parties should be held accountable for their negligent actions. There are no fees unless we win your case for you.
We offer a complimentary consultation where you can ask questions and review possible options. To schedule your free case review with a West Virginia lawyer, call Tiano O’Dell, PLLC at (304) 720-6700 today.