Cross Median Vehicle Collision on I-79

A cross median crash is a collision or wreck where a vehicle or vehicles depart from the way traveled to the left, traversing the median separation between the highway’s directional lanes, and colliding with a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction.  In an attempt to prevent these often fatal collisions, grass medians separate interstate highway lanes and concrete or metal beam barriers have been installed in some known highway danger areas.

Grass medians can be somewhat effective, as also are traditional concrete and metal-beam barriers, but are expensive and can be difficult to install in some locations.  The good news is that the alternative of cable median barriers can provide a solution that is both comparatively inexpensive and effective.  A great advantage for West Virginia terrain is that these cable barriers are very effective on slopes.   National studies have shown a 96% reduction in fatal cross median crashes when these cable barriers are used, and several high-tension cable designs are now available that can withstand multiple hits.

A recent three-vehicle collision near Weston, WV where two vehicles collided in the southbound lanes of I-79 may be a case for consideration in determining whether or not the mere separation of lanes by a grass median is enough to prevent such head-on collisions.  The impact of this collision drove one of the vehicles into the northbound lanes, where it slammed into a flatbed truck.   Tragically, the truck driver was injured and taken to Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital, and one person was killed in the wreck.  Clearly, the grass median was not enough in this case to prevent tragedy.

Accident reconstructionists are working to determine the cause of the initial collision involving the two cars in the southbound lane.crash on I-79 near weston

This accident was obviously a cross-median collision, but the absence of a standard definition leaves many accident situations in doubt with regard to characterizing them as cross-median crashes. Questionable examples include the following: vehicles departing the roadway, crossing the median, and colliding with a tree and vehicles crossing the median and falling from a bridge overpass onto a different road such as in a recent incident that occurred near Bridgeport, WV.

In October of 2013, on the southbound side of I-79 just past the Meadowbrook Mall exit in Bridgeport, a truck lost control as it was approaching the bridge crossing Johnson Avenue/Meadowbrook Road, hit the guardrail and then fell off the bridge on the street below.

The semi-truck was completely destroyed and I-79 South was limited to one lane while the section of Johnson Avenue/Meadowbrook Road between the I-79 northbound on-ramp and the I-79 southbound off-ramp was completely closed.  One person was injured, but the truck driver was able to crawl out of the cab after the collision.

In light of trying to prevent such accidents from happening at all, or at least minimizing the impact and damage from such collisions, the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) is working toward better accident analysis in this area.  Furthermore, the NTSB recommends that NHTSA and Governors Highway Safety Association work together to add a standard definition for “cross-median crash” and a data element for cross-median crash accidents to the national databases.  Solutions to address the problem naturally include barrier application and installation decisions in where to best place highway dollars for driver’s safety.

Causes of cross median crashes are the same as you would expect in any motor vehicle collision, such as fatigue, improper lane changes, and inattention, but the good news is that research is showing that protective barriers, especially cable median barriers, can prevent most cross median crashes, regardless of the circumstances.

One of the least expensive solutions would be increased installation of cable median barriers which consists of 3 or 4 steel cables, tensioned and strung on posts which contain vehicles in the median once they leave the roadway where they are less likely to involve other vehicles and cause a multi-vehicle crash.

Cable median barriers are also some of the most versatile and forgiving barrier systems available for reducing the severity of run-off-road crashes and show a substantial reduction in fatal and injury crashes when compared to concrete and metal beam barriers.  When struck, the cables flex and the posts break which absorbs most of the crash’s kinetic energy and redirects the vehicle along the barrier.  National studies have shown a 96% reduction in fatal cross median crashes when these barriers are used.

Indisputably, prevention is always preferable to the cure, but when a motor vehicle accident does occur, whatever the circumstances, human suffering and property loss is too often the result.  At the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, we have spent decades helping the victims of such collisions gain the compensation they need to put their lives and health back together, as much as possible.

We know how to navigate the insurance agencies’ strategies to minimize reimbursement and compensation for your losses and how to help you gain your best possible result.

If you have any questions concerning injuries or financial losses, or property damage from a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, call us today to get the answers you need:  304-594-1800.

Source:  National Transportation Safety Board, “Safety Recommendation.”  October 4th, 2011.

Hit and Run Drivers Face Civil as well as Criminal Charges

Car accidents are sometimes understandable mistakes or are simply unavoidable.  Sometimes they are caused by negligence like substance abuse or driving which has been distracted by electronics.  But as soon as drivers flee the scene in order to avoid responsibility, no matter the cause of the accident, it becomes a crime.  In these cases, families often file personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits against hit-and-run drivers in addition to criminal charges they are facing which may be up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Drivers often flee the scene of a pedestrian collision due to fear of prosecution, fear of being found to have been driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances, or fear of having been found to have been driving without liability insurance, as is one in every seven drivers on the road today.

We need to send a message to hit-and-run drivers in West Virginia which is:  You will be caught, and you will be prosecuted, so don’t make matters worse for yourself or anyone else involved.

Beverly, WV:  Hit and Run on Highway Route 219

A good example of this involves the West Virginia State Police in Elkins who are investigating a hit and run that happened on Rt. 219 outside of Beverly around 4:30 p.m. on Friday, November 29th, 2013.  State Police have located and arrested the driver and charged him with DUI causing personal injury, leaving the scene of an accident, possession of a controlled substance, and possessing marijuana.

State Police said the perpetrator of this hit and run was driving north on Rt. 219 outside of Beverly and struck a young man who was walking on the shoulder with another person. Troopers said the driver was answering his cell phone while driving around a turn when he traveled off of the roadway and struck the pedestrian who is now in critical condition. The second pedestrian was not injured.  At the time of this post, the pedestrian remains in critical condition at Ruby Hospital, and the hit and run driver is being held in Tygart Valley Regional Jail.

What Can A Victim Do In Such Cases?

This collision exemplifies all that can go wrong when irresponsible persons are behind the wheel of a vehicle —  driving under the influence, losing control of the vehicle and leaving the victim on the side of the road.   Thankfully, there was a witness who was able to communicate the identity of the perpetrator to the police.    But what about the victim’s rights of recovery against the perpetrator?   What can be done to make him responsible for the damages he has caused?   Unfortunately, in many cases, there is little that can be done.   If the perpetrator has insurance, it is often in the minimum limits required by law: $20,000.   One day in the hospital would absorb that amount.   More often, though, the perpetrator doesn’t have automobile insurance and has no assets.   A judgment against such an individual would likely be difficult if not impossible to collect.  Besides, he is likely to be spending some time behind bars for his illegal behavior.   These types of situations illustrate the need for responsible drivers to have sufficient underinsured motorist vehicle coverage and medical payments coverage on their own policies.

Elkins WV Pedestrian Accident Lawyers

Every year in communities throughout West Virginia, hundreds of innocent adults and children are injured or killed while walking on a sidewalk or pedestrian crossing or riding their bikes legally on our streets. When a car or truck hits a pedestrian, there is usually no question about who is going to suffer.

Going up against an insurance company to fight for full and fair money damages for your injuries or financial losses is no easy task. Insurance companies often devote substantial financial resources trying to beat you down and frustrate you until you accept their low settlement offer.

The  Robinette Legal Group puts you on an even playing field.  Jeff Robinette is a former insurance defense lawyer who understands the strategies and tactics insurance companies use to limit their liability and avoid paying you what your claim is worth.

Our firm has experience representing clients in all types of pedestrian accident injury and wrongful death claims, including:

  • Intersection and crosswalk injuries
  • Parking lot injuries
  • Hit and run and uninsured motorist accidents

Contact our offices in Morgantown to schedule a free consultation about your pedestrian accident injury claim. We represent clients injured in communities throughout West Virginia.

Related article on Erin’s Law in WV stiffening penalties for hit and run drivers.

If you have questions, call 304-594-1800 today.

Source:  WBOY: “1 Arrested, 1 Hospitalized at Ruby Memorial Hospital Following Rt. 219 Hit and Run.”  December 3, 2013.