Every day, truck accidents on the roads of West Virginia cause injury and death to unsuspecting drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. While there are potentially many causes of any auto accident, negligence on the part of a truck driver or trucking company often contributes to the significant injury and loss truck accidents cause.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 25 percent of all workplace fatalities in America in 2015 occurred in the trucking industry. There are many reasons why trucking is such a dangerous job.
Why Trucking Accidents Happen
Inexperience: Long hours, low pay and tough working conditions have caused turnover among truck drivers to remain near one hundred percent. This means that truck drivers on the roadway are rarely experienced, which, in turn, increases the risk of having an accident. When an inexperienced trucker causes an accident, legal responsibility can fall to the trucker individually, or to the company which failed to provide adequate training and experience prior to putting the truck driver behind the wheel of a heavy, dangerous vehicle.
Driver Pay Structure: Because truck drivers are often paid by the mile, not by the hour, they are forced to choose between productivity and safety. New regulations are addressing this problem by requiring the installation of electronic logging devices. The American Trucking Associations estimate that these regulations, which allow federal regulators to view tamper-proof electronic data instead of relying on paper logs maintained by the truck driver, will affect more than three million truck drivers in the U.S. Even before these regulations take effect, transportation companies may be found negligent if they allow tired drivers to work too many hours. Truck drivers may also face personal liability if they disregard company safety policies for hours worked or driving while tired.
Cargo: Flammable cargo or hazardous material carries obvious risks to truck drivers and others on the road. But cargo can also affect the physics of momentum in other ways. Liquid cargo, for example, can create a "sloshing" effect which propels the truck forward, even from a complete stop. Trailers which are not properly secured can sway across lanes and cause the truck driver to lose control of the load. And when cargo spills, everyone in the vicinity is exposed to additional hazards. Other drivers may not be able to avoid slippery road conditions or obstacles in the road after cargo spills. Hazardous cargo spills can also create environmental hazards for nearby communities.
Ultimately, the facts of each case will determine whether the truck driver is personally liable or the accident, or whether the employing transportation company also bears some, or all, responsibility for the accident.
Protect Your Legal Rights
Accident victims must protect their legal rights by contacting a West Virginia truck accident attorney. The experienced attorneys at Klie Law Offices have decades of experience in defending the rights of West Virginia drivers, passengers, bicyclists and pedestrians who have been injured by the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company.
Know that West Virginia is a tort state when it comes to auto accidents. What this means is you are not required to exhaust any personal injury protection insurance before you can pursue a claim against the at-fault driver. Further, House Bill 2002, passed in 2015, only requires a defendant be liable for the portion of his or her own damages, which can be reduced by plaintiff's personal liability, as well as the liability of other defendants and non-parties. That means you must identify any and all defendants who may be responsible, and take action against them too to fully recover your damages. We can help.