Being involved in a motor vehicle accident is always a harrowing experience. When that accident involves a truck or tractor-trailer, the damage and injuries will more often than not be devastating. These heavy-duty vehicles are built to carry heavy cargo and equipment, but their large size and weight make them especially dangerous in collisions and accidents. The vast majority of passenger vehicle collisions with large trucks and tractor-trailers result in serious and often fatal injuries.
When this happens to you, you may find yourself facing down mountains of bills for the ambulance ride, the emergency room visit, X-rays and other imaging, surgery, physical therapy, time lost from work…. It may seem like those bills will never stop coming in. There’s no way you can pay them all.
But if you didn’t cause the accident, you shouldn’t have to. You can take control of the situation by calling the West Virginia truck accident lawyers at Wagoner Desai, PLLC. We can determine who caused your accident and fight on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve and need to pay all of those bills. Get in touch with us right now for your free case evaluation.
Sharing the Road With Large Trucks and Tractor-Trailers in West Virginia
It is common to see trucks sharing the road with passenger vehicles throughout West Virginia. Trucks are an everyday presence along the state’s network of roads and highways, and are an important part of the state’s economy. Unfortunately, the prevalence of trucks in combination with the already dangerous road conditions and terrain of West Virginia can result in catastrophic accidents.
In just one year, the National Safety Council reported nearly 5,000 fatalities involving large trucks across the United States. More than 80 percent of those deaths were among pedestrians or passenger vehicle occupants involved in the truck accident. The overwhelming majority of these accidents occurred on rural, non-interstate roadways during day-time hours.
Unique Dangers Associated With Tractor Trailers
The massive size and weight of trucks and tractor-trailers are major contributing factors to the destructive effects of an accident involving one of these vehicles. Beyond their size, trucks also commonly carry hazardous materials as cargo and require extensive regular maintenance to function safely. Any errors or negligence in handling shipments, maintenance, or even truck driver schedules can put others at risk of injury or death.
Common Types of Truck and Tractor-Trailer Accidents in West Virginia:
- Rear-end accident;
- Head-on collisions;
- Rollover accidents;
- Tire blowouts;
- Dangerous maneuvers;
- Loss of cargo or spillage of hazardous materials; and
- Underride/undercarriage accidents.
Determining Liability in Truck Accident Cases
Truck accident cases are usually much more complex than the more common motor vehicle accidents that occur between passenger vehicles. Most truck accidents occur while the truck is transporting goods and while the driver is performing work-related activities. This means that in addition to the truck driver, there might be other parties who are liable for the accident depending on the specific circumstances of your case. Guidance from a knowledgeable West Virginia truck accident lawyer attorney can help you determine who else may have caused your injuries and damages.
You Can Seek Compensation From Other Responsible Parties, Including:
- The trucking company – There are truck drivers and their employers must follow federal regulations that limit the hours and scheduling of truck drivers. If a trucking company violates these standards or otherwise created a dangerous situation that led to the accident, they may bear some liability for the accident.
- Truck maintenance providers – Trucks are intricate machines with many moving parts that require routine inspections, maintenance, and repairs. Any failures in this process can create a hazardous situation that may lead to mechanical failures or defects that in turn can contribute to a truck accident. Maintenance providers as well as the trucking company and driver have a responsibility to keep up with all the maintenance necessary to ensure the truck is operating safely at all times.
- Manufacturers of equipment or parts – In addition to repairs and maintenance, properly functioning parts and equipment play an important role in a truck’s safe operation. Faulty or defective parts and equipment can create dangerous conditions for truck drivers as well as other vehicles on the road.
- Insurance carriers – A truck accident generally involves competing insurance carriers that must pay you compensation for your injuries and damages. Many aspects of shipping and truck transport are insured and knowing the responsible carriers and the limits of their insurance coverage is an important step in seeking the compensation you deserve.
- Other parties – Each truck accident involves particular circumstances that could open up additional parties to liability, including but not limited to the owner or shipper of the truck’s cargo and the individuals or parties responsible for loading and securing the shipment on the truck. Any missteps or negligence in this process could be a contributing factor to the accident and injuries you sustained.
Damages in West Virginia Truck Accidents
Injuries that occur as a result of truck accidents are often severe and life-altering. Truck accident injuries can require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation which, in turn, lead to overwhelming medical bills and expenses. In many cases, truck accident victims may never fully heal or recover from the injuries they have sustained. This impacts not only the victim’s quality of life but also their ability to work and earn income now and in the future.
An experienced truck accident lawyer can take the time to calculate the damages you have incurred and seek the monetary compensation you may be legally entitled to as a result of your car accident. When calculating the damages for a catastrophic event such as a truck accident it is vital to not only consider your current situation and losses, but also to quantify the lifelong impacts you will be suffering because of the accident.
Damages in a Truck Accident Case Can Include:
- Medical, physical, psychological, and cognitive therapy expenses;
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of income;
- Loss of future earning potential;
- Personal property loss or damage; and
- Funeral, burial, and cremation expenses.
- Loss of consortium, companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life.
- Loss of use of a bodily function or body part or amputation.
- Other related expenses or losses.
West Virginia Truck Accident FAQs
Trucks are much larger and heavier than other passenger vehicles, so the consequences of an accident are often more serious. Truck accident victims must cope with the pain of physical injury, emotional stress, and potential economic burden if they are lucky enough to survive a truck accident. If you suffered injuries in a West Virginia truck accident, you might feel overwhelmed and uncertain about the claims process, lawsuits in general, or hiring a West Virginia truck accident lawyer.
Our West Virginia truck accident attorneys, however, can guide you on the best path forward. Until you can consult us directly, the following answers to frequently asked questions about truck accidents in West Virginia can provide some introductory information.
How long do I have to take legal action for my West Virginia truck accident injuries?
Under West Virginia law, you have two years from the date of your truck accident to bring a lawsuit against the allegedly negligent truck driver, trucking company, or another party. This time limit, legally referred to as a statute of limitations, also applies if you have lost a loved one from fatal truck accident injuries. Although you have two years, you should contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. If you miss the two-year deadline, you risk losing the opportunity to recover compensation for damages. Some rare situations provide grounds for extending the two-year time limit, but only in extreme situations.
Who is liable for my West Virginia truck accident injuries?
Naming a defendant after a routine traffic accident is often obvious. This, however, is not always true for truck accidents. Depending on the circumstances of your truck accident, your attorney might recommend that you name more than one party as a defendant.
Parties that could be financially liable for your West Virginia truck accident injuries include:
- Truck driver. Truckers can engage in a wide range of dangerous driving behaviors that lead to dangerous and deadly truck accidents. Truck drivers have demanding jobs that keep them rushing from place to place, resulting in speeding and traveling too fast for conditions. Additionally, some truckers succumb to driving distractions such as cell phones, radios, food, and drink. Hard-working truck drivers sometimes do not get the sleep they need to operate their big rigs safely. Careless and negligent truckers can expect to join a lawsuit when their behavior leads to an accident.
- Trucking company. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) heavily regulates trucking companies to keep roads safe for everyone. Trucking companies who violate FMCSA regulations and make negligent choices that lead to truck accidents open themselves to financial liability in a West Virginia truck accident lawsuit. For example, trucking companies must maintain trucks in roadworthy condition, hire qualified drivers, properly load and secure cargo, and provide adequate training for employees and drivers.
- Another motorist. Sometimes other motorists’ negligent actions cause truck drivers to lose control of their trucks, leading to treacherous crashes. Drivers who ride in a semi-truck’s blind spots or make erratic movements that cut off truck drivers can cause dangerous accidents. Distracted drivers who are busy using their cell phones, grooming, eating, or engaging in other risky behaviors while driving can cause accidents. Drunk, drugged, and drowsy drivers also can strike a truck and cause a multi-vehicle accident, making them partially or fully liable for truck accident injuries.
- Truck/truck part manufacturer. Truck manufacturers and truck part manufacturers have a legal obligation to produce safe goods. Trucks and truck parts with product defects can lead to mechanical breakdowns at critical times, causing severe and fatal truck accidents. Some common defective truck parts include braking systems, steering systems, and tires. If a defect leads to a truck accident, your attorney will likely advise you to name the truck manufacturer as a defendant.
Should I accept an insurance settlement offer for my West Virginia truck accident injuries?
You should always consult with an experienced truck accident attorney before accepting any offer from an insurance carrier. Once you accept an offer, you also waive your right to seek further compensation for your truck accident injuries. The last thing you want to do is leave yourself without the funds you need to pay for medical treatment costs. You must know the full extent of your injuries before accepting an offer. Additionally, insurance companies are famous for making predatory lowball offers soon after an accident to entice accident victims to settle. These offers are typically far less than what an accident victim deserves for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Will my West Virginia truck accident claim go to trial?
Most traffic accident injury victims settle their claims before going to trial. Both sides have an incentive to avoid the extra expenses that come with litigation. However, you should prepare for the possibility of court. Sometimes negotiations fail because the defense disputes liability or refuses to offer full and fair compensation for injuries.
How much money is my West Virginia truck accident claim worth?
We cannot predict a financial outcome for your claim because each case is different. Your truck accident lawyer will evaluate the facts of your case, add up your economic losses, and use past cases and possibly experts to determine the potential value of your claim. However, you can be sure the insurance company involved will value your case much lower than your attorney. In fact, settlement negotiations center around agreeing on an amount that both parties agree is fair compensation for accident injuries.
How much does it cost to retain a West Virginia truck accident attorney?
Truck accident injury victims typically do not pay an upfront retainer to hire legal counsel for their claim. Our West Virginia truck accident attorneys take our clients on a contingency fee basis. Instead of paying attorney fees out-of-pocket, your lawyer will only deduct attorney fees and other costs of representation from any compensation you receive for your injuries.
How Wagoner Desai, PLLC’s West Virginia Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help You
If you or a loved one was involved in a truck accident in West Virginia, protect your legal rights and interests as soon as possible. Truck accident cases often require extensive resources, research, and knowledge to successfully manage and navigate. A West Virginia truck accident lawyer at Wagoner Desai, PLLC, can provide you the advice and guidance you need to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Seek help from our West Virginia personal injury lawyers at Wagoner Desai, PLLC. We are a young, energetic firm that is always willing to look for innovative solutions—but we don’t lack the experience you need to navigate the complicated issues surrounding West Virginia truck accidents. No matter what time it is, you can reach out to our West Virginia truck accident attorneys at (304) 470-2056 or through our online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you and helping as much as the law will allow.
Wagoner Desai, PLLC
265 High Street 3rd Floor, Citizens Bank Building
Morgantown, WV 26505
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