Is There a Difference Between a Collision and an Accident in WV?

Collision CareOne of the classic ways that insurance adjusters begin the process of defeating your claim is to label the wrongful conduct of their own insured driver as an accident.   They will attempt to gain sympathy for their insured driver and make the collision sound like just a little mistake — an accident.   While it is true that many minor collisions occur every day and cause no personal injuries to anyone, it is not accurate to say that all collisions are “accidents”.

When a significant auto collision occurs, causing serious personal injuries, it is self-evident that the person who caused the collision violated the motor vehicle safety laws and is thus guilty of careless, negligent conduct.

It is important to never refer to the conduct of the at-fault driver, who caused your serious injuries, as a mere mistake, or the auto collision as an accident.  If the collision was truly an “accident,” then the law may not hold anyone responsible.  The law requires that legal liability be established on the basis of fault, referred to as negligence.

 WV Uniform Crash Report Replaces Uniform Accident Report

 For many decades, law enforcement officers used the “Uniform Accident Report” form to annotate information about the auto collision.   Notice the word “Accident” in the title of the form?    Insurance companies and defense lawyers loved it!   During trials, the defense lawyer, the police officer, and even the judge referred to the collision as an accident.   So, what’s a jury to think about your claim if it was caused by an accident?  Well, I can tell you from experience — not much.

Recently, however, the use of a revised auto collision report form was mandated in West Virginia.   The change was primarily brought about because a new form had to be created to be integrated with computer software.    Irrespective of the reasons to get a new form in the system, every state, county and city police force must use the revised form: “State of West Virginia Uniform Traffic Crash Report.”   Did you notice the word “Crash” in the title of the report?  You can bet the insurance adjuster and defense lawyer noticed it.

So now, even police officers must recognize that they are investigating car “crashes,” not mere “accidents.”    But, old ways are hard to break, and it will take constant reminders to adjusters and even judges to refrain from referring to the police report as an “accident” report.

 Morgantown WV Collision Injury Lawyers

If you or your loved one has been injured due to someone’s careless, negligent conduct it is important to act quickly to protect your claim. Mr. Robinette has handled hundreds of cases involving serious injury and wrongful death and can provide the insight you need right now.

Call Jeff Robinette today for a free evaluation of your case at 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

We are glad to provide free books and information for WV accident victims: Collision Care: West Virginia Auto Collision Guide, and Righting the Wrong, West Virginia Serious Injury Guide:  304-594-1800.

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Ambulance Driver Falls Asleep on the Job

Collision CareJan Care Accident Injures Three People in Doddridge County:  West Virginia State Police are investigating an ambulance crash that happened in Doddridge County on the night of May 20, 2013.  A Jan-Care ambulance crashed on Route 50 near Arnold’s Creek just after 11 p.m.   The ambulance driver told police that he had fallen asleep while driving.

The driver said he was traveling toward Parkersburg when the vehicle ran off the roadway and ended up in the guard rail and a ravine, according to West Virginia State Police.  One person was flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital.  There was one patient in the ambulance, according to 911 officials. The patient and another person in the ambulance were taken to United Hospital Center for treatment.

State police have not released the names of the people involved. Their injuries didn’t appear to be life threatening.

Drowsy Driving is one of the Leading Causes of Accidents on WV Highways

Most of us realize how dangerous driving under the influence or texting while driving is, but driving while drowsy can be equally dangerous. Sleepiness can cause slower reaction times, blurred vision, lapses in judgment, and delays in processing information.

Ambulance drivers are on call 24-7 — it is no wonder that the drivers are often driving while sleep deprived.  It is especically sad when an ambulance driver whose only intent is to save lives falls asleep at the wheel and causes injury.   This is the second major Jan Care accident in this area this year.  I am confident the Jan Care company will be revising policies or will at least have a new urgency in working to prevent future accidents that could injure their staff and the patients who have been trusted to their care.

Specific At-Risk Groups for Drowsy Driving

  • Young people — especially males under age 26
  • Shift workers and people with long work hours-working the night shift increases your risk by nearly 6 times; rotating-shift workers and people working more than 60 hours a week need to be particularly careful
  • Commercial drivers-especially long-haul drivers – at least 15% of all heavy truck crashes involve fatigue
  • People with undiagnosed or untreated disorders-people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea have been shown to have up to a seven times increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel
  • Business travelers-who spend many hours driving or may be jet lagged

Fast Facts about Driving while Fatigued:

  • 100,000 crashes each year are caused by fatigued drivers
  • 55% of drowsy driving crashes are caused by drivers less than 25 years old
  • Being awake for 18 hours is equal to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%, which is legally drunk and leaves you at equal risk for a crash
  • In 2010, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a study that shows that fatigue is a factor in one in six deadly crashes; one in eight crashes resulting in hospitalization, and one in fourteen crashes in which a vehicle was towed.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths, 76,000 injuries, and more than 100,000 accidents every year.

Tips for avoiding becoming a drowsy driver statistic:

  • Get a good night’s sleep (seven to nine hours) before you begin your trip.
  • Plan breaks into your driving schedule; don’t be so rushed to arrive at your destination that you can’t stop for rest.
  • Stop every 100 miles or two hours for a walk, run, snack, or drink.
  • Bring a buddy who can share the driving.
  • If you think you could fall asleep, pull over and take a 15-20 minute nap — does not apply to ambulance drivers!
  • Avoid driving at times you would normally be asleep — also does not apply to ambulance drivers.
  • Avoid alcohol and medicines that cause drowsiness.
  • Caffeine can increase alertness for several hours, but you will still need adequate rest if you want to prevent fatigue related errors.

Warning Signs that it is time to pull over:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, heavy eyelids.
  • Trouble keeping your head up.
  • Drifting onto rumble strips, swerving in your lane.
  • Inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven.
  • Missed exits or traffic signs.
  • Repeated yawning.
  • Feeling restless or irritable.

Robinette Legal Group, PLLC in Morgantown, WV. You may not have been able to avoid the collision that caused your injuries, but you can avoid the unnecessary pitfalls of dealing with the insurance adjusters who are motivated and trained to devalue your claim, if not destroy it altogether.

Call our office today for free books for WV accident victims: Collision Care: West Virginia Auto Collision Guide, and Righting the Wrong, West Virginia Serious Injury Guide:  304-594-1800.

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One Killed and One Injured by a Truck while changing a Tire on I-79

Collision CareA man was recently killed while changing a tire on the northbound shoulder of Interstate 79 near the Star City exit.  This man was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer, and was found already deceased when the investigating trooper arrived on the scene.  A passenger was also struck by the passing truck, but suffered minor injuries. The driver of the tractor-trailer was not physically injured by the impact, but surely is suffering as well.

Tire Changing Safety

If you get a flat tire and have no other choice but to change it yourself, it is essential that you do everything you can to make yourself visible to other drivers. Some drivers drive too close to the shoulder and may not see you in time to stop when they are traveling between 70 and 80 miles per hour.

• Turn on your hazard lights (emergency blinkers).
• If possible, keep rolling until you get to a straight stretch of highway so that you are not hidden to other drivers by a curve in the road.
• Pull off as far away from the highway as possible to keep yourself off the roadway as you are working to change the tire safely.

As fellow drivers, we have a continual responsibility to look out for others in distress. This fact makes it essential that we do everything possible to ensure that we are not distracted by anything while driving.

If You Were Injured in a Truck Accident

When you are suddenly involved in an auto collision causing you serious injuries, you will likely have plenty of questions about how the insurance claims process and court system work. In essence, you want to be informed so that you can be fairly compensated for your injuries.

You need to understand your legal rights to ensure that you are compensated fairly for the injuries you received due to someone else’s negligence. The Robinette Legal Group has made available Collision Care, a Guide for WV Accident Victims, free of charge for West Virginians and those injured in WV.

Collision Care will answer your important questions about how to enforce your legal rights against the persons responsible for causing your injuries; how to navigate through the complexities of the insurance claim process and legal court system; and how to avoid being taken advantage of by insurance adjusters and their team of defense lawyers who are determined to minimize your recovery for your auto injury claim.

Robinette Legal Group, PLLC — Morgantown Truck Accident Attorneys

If you or your loved one has been injured due to negligence or willful violation of safety regulations on the road, it is important to act quickly to protect your claim. Mr. Robinette has handled hundreds of cases involving serious injury and wrongful death and can provide the insight you need right now. Call Jeff Robinette today for a free evaluation of your case at 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695 or visit our Robinette Legal Group, PLLC website:  http://www.robinettelaw.com

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