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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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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Does it Matter if I Wait to Contact a Lawyer?

gavel and clockDoes it really matter if I wait to contact a lawyer about my wrongful death claim?

If you think that waiting a few months to speak with a lawyer won’t impact your wrongful death claim, think again.  Every day that you wait to seek legal counsel equates to a loss of opportunity to obtain full compensation for your injuries. In reality, it is the first 30 days following the fatal injuries to your deceased family member that are most critical to your case.

It is within this relatively short time period that initial inspections should be completed and necessary evidence and testimony secured. It is always best if a lawyer is consulted within the first few days following the tragic event, because certain evidence won’t last even 30 days. If you wait too long to develop your wrongful death claim, it will make the job of even a good lawyer more difficult to obtain a full recovery for the estate.

Waiting even a few weeks to get legal advice about your case may be just enough time for evidence to be lost or destroyed or an important witness to disappear.  Loss of vital evidence and witness testimony will cause permanent shortcomings in your wrongful death case.    Without evidence you have no way of proving liability against the responsible parties who caused the death of your family member.

You don’t know if or when your evidence will disappear or be destroyed. An important witness to your case will not likely call you up and give you their testimony and forwarding address before they skip town. When they skip town, there goes your evidence, too. And that documentary evidence — the tangible information like records and parts — you need to prove your case can disappear. Nobody is going to alert you to that either.

Also, please keep in mind that West Virginia allows only two years to file suit after the occurrence.  After this time, your claim will be forever barred.

It doesn’t matter if your evidence is accidently lost or intentionally destroyed; both have the same adverse impact on your fatal injury claim.  All these things happen without you knowing it — these are some of the legal ramifications of waiting too long to get legal counsel.  You don’t have to end up being further harmed — you can exercise your right to consult with your own lawyer about your injury claim today.

For further information about moving forward after a tragic, unexpected death, we offer a free resource for you to help guide you through the process of moving forward with your lives.  Click this link to gain the insight you need today:  Beside Still Waters:  West Virginia Fatal Injury Guide.Beside_Still_Waters_-_Covers_3D

No words or amount of remuneration could ever compensate all that you have lost when your loved one is taken from you.  As you move forward with your life, those who are responsible must be held accountable to give you a sense of justice and closure.  Jeff Robinette and his staff are available to answer your questions.  Every call is handled with compassion, and every case is handled with dignity and professionalism.

Call The Robinette Legal Group, PLLC today:  304-216-6695. You can also find Jeffery Robinette on Google+

Injured in WV? Get the Facts.

Free Books for WV Accident Victims:

Beside Still WatersRighting the WrongsCollision Care

Click on book image for immediate download, or if you are a WV injury victim, call 1-304-594-1800 or email our office today to have a soft cover book sent to your home at no cost or obligation to you.

Collision Care: A Guide for West Virginia Accident Victims will give you the basic facts that you must know in order to make the best decisions for your present and future circumstances and to help you achieve the best result possible regarding your injury claim. (87 pages)

Righting the Wrong: West Virginia Serious Injury Guide provides serious injury victims and their families essential information about the insurance claims process to enable them to maximize their efforts to rebuild their lives. (161 pages)

Beside Still Waters: West Virginia Fatal Injury Guide provides surviving family members the information they need in order to pick up the pieces of their lives to enable them to rebuild a financial future for themselves and their children. (123 pages)

Click on a book cover image for a free immediate download, or if you are an injury victim or family member, call our office today to have a soft cover copy sent to your home. Due to limited availability, there is a limit of one book per family.

All of these books can also be purchased on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble for $16.95 each, plus shipping, but if you act now, Jeff will send it to you at No Cost or obligation.

Some of the useful information you will find in these books:

  • What Are My Legal Rights?
  • What Is Legal Liability?
  • What Is Comparative Fault? What happens if we were both at fault?
  • How Do I Prove My Claim? What documentation must I provide?
  • For What Damages May I Receive Compensation?
  • Do I Really Need A Lawyer? How to choose the right lawyer for your case.
  • Can I Afford A Lawyer?
  • Financial Motivation Of The Insurance Company – to minimize their pay-outs and maximize their own profit.
  • What is a wrongful death?
  • Statements and Authorizations – Think twice and get advice before you sign that release!
  • Social Media Traps and insurance company surveillance of your activities.
  • Spoliation of Evidence , vehicle salvage issues.
  • And much, much more!

Bonus Information: The Anatomy of a Real-life Injury Case and 10 Ways to Ruin Your Case

Our Mission
Morgantown lawyer and principal attorney, Jeff Robinette, shares what he believes is the mission of the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC. The primary objective of a personal injury law firm is to help the average person who has been the victim of negligence against the powerful resources of the insurance industry.

About the Author:

Jeffery L RobinetteJeffery Robinette is a personal injury lawyer with decades of insurance litigation and trial experience in personal injury and wrongful death claims. Prior to representing injured individuals exclusively, Mr. Robinette was a partner in a major West Virginia law firm where he focused his legal practice on defending serious personal injury and wrongful death claims and lawsuits stemming from auto and truck collisions. He has also represented the nation’s largest and most powerful insurance companies at all levels of litigation including jury trials and appeals in state and federal courts in West Virginia.

Mr. Robinette taught insurance companies and their adjusters how to follow insurance laws and regulations, including how to adjust insurance claims in good faith. He was a frequent speaker at insurance conferences on West Virginia insurance law.

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Injury Lawyers.  Call us today: 304-216-6695 or 304-594-1800.  We are glad to answer your questions.

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Driver Plummets Off Bridge While Texting and Lives to Warn Others

“I need to quit texting, because I could die in a car accident.”

That was one of the final texts written by a 21-year-old  before his truck plummeted off a Texas bridge and into a ravine. The young man miraculously survived despite suffering brain injuries and breaking nearly every bone in his body, including his cheekbones, neck and skull. He also had to be brought back to life three times, reports WBTV.

This past Wednesday the young man left the hospital after a six-month stay that included numerous reconstructive surgeries and intensive rehabilitation (he even had to learn how to speak again). Though the incident took place January 24, only now is he able to discuss the crash.

“Don’t do it. It’s not worth losing your life,” the man said of texting behind the wheel. “I went to my grandmother’s funeral not long ago, and I kept thinking, it kept jumping into my head, I’m surprised that’s not me up in that casket. I came very close to that, to being gone forever.”

As smartphones increasingly play a role in our lives, so too does distracted driving. A doctor from the young man’s rehabilitation program told the Daily News that the he is treating an increased number of patients injured because of texting on the road. “And unfortunately I don’t think we’re going to see a decrease in that anytime soon.”

But driving under the influence of your phone isn’t the only issue; pedestrians are also in danger. Recent security camera footage revealed a shocking incident in which a Philadelphia man fell onto train tracks as he distractedly walked and talked on his cellphone. (Luckily there were no trains were headed his way, and the man escaped to safety.)

“If I had a kid 16 years old starting to drive, they could have a phone but the texting feature wouldn’t be on it,” the young man’s father suggests.

This young man believes one of his reasons for still being alive is to spread the message he learned all too well. “I still have things to do in this world,” he said. “I should tell everyone not to text message and drive.”

Morgantown WV Car Accident Lawyers

If you would like more information about texting while driving or need help in navigating the insurance claims process after having been injured by someone else’s negligence or carelessness in WV, please click here.  Jeff Robinette at the Robinette Legal Group in Morgantown answers questions like yours everyday and would be happy to answer yours.  Call 304-594-1800 or 304-216-6695 today.

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Update on Texting Bill

The Senate sent the texting bill to the House with texting as a primary offense and talking on a hand-held cell phone a secondary offense.  The WV House voted to make both texting and use of a hand-held cell phone primary offenses with $100, $200, and $500 fines.  In conference committee Saturday evening, the three senators suggested a compromise phasing in the hand-held provision as a primary offense after two years.  The House responded that if the Senate would agree to a one year phase in, they would agree to lower the fines to $100, $200, and $300 for first and subsequent offenses.  When the bill goes to the governor, texting will be a primary offense as of July 1, 2012 and use of a hand-held phone a secondary offense.  Use of a hand-held phone will become a primary offense on July 1, 2013.  Though the governor’s original bill made both offenses secondary, the governor has said he supports the bill as it is and praises it as a measure to make West Virginia roads safer.

WV House Passes Texting Bill

The House passed the texting and hand-held cell phone ban by a vote of 87-12.  All local delegates voted for the bill.  Some opposed to the bill stated that it was either unenforceable or just too much government interference in personal lives.  The bill makes texting and using a hand-held cellphone while driving a primary offense, carrying fines of $100, $200, and $500 for first and subsequent offenses.  Third and subsequent offences would also add three points to your driving license which could lead to a license suspension.  Statistics show that a driver who is texting is four times more likely to cause an accident than a drunk driver and has the reaction time of a seventy year old driver. 

What About the Other Guy? Top Five Defensive Driving Tips

Driving is the most dangerous activity we engage in daily.  You know this, so you wear your seatbelt, don’t speed, and never drive drunk or text while driving.  You check for side effects of your medications and get enough sleep before driving so that you won’t be impaired by drowsiness.  What about the other guy? How can you manage the risks from other road users?  Here are five tips to help you stay safe.

1.  Pay close attention to your surroundings to spot driving behaviors that can signal trouble.  A driver who suddenly slows down, appears to be wandering, or is weaving may be impaired by any one of the above factors.

2.  Drop back, get out of the way, and call the police after pulling over if you suspect a serious problem.

3.  Watch also for speeding, tailgating, rolling past stop signs, hard breaking, cutting off other vehicles, and failure to yield the right of way.

4.  If someone cuts you off, resist the urge to “teach him a lesson.”  Just let it go.  Avoid honking, making eye contact, or gesturing in such a way that the situation might become escalated.  Never let an aggressive driver add to your own risk.

5.  Use turn signals to communicate your intentions to other drivers, make gradual lane changes, and keep a safe distance between vehicles.  Keep yourself fully engaged in the task of driving – you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Tips based on an article by Wayne Northey, President, AAA of West Virginia

One Text or Call Could Wreck it All

The West Virginia Texting Bill that passed the Senate earlier this month is now in the House. The legislation makes it illegal to text or talk on a hand-held cell phone while driving. The Senate bill makes it a primary offense. The House has yet to decide.   All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.  The National Safety Council has designated April 1-30, 2012 as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in a concentrated effort to educate the public of the dangers of any distractions that impair driving.

Update:  The texting bill passed in WV, and it is now a primary offense if you are caught texting while driving.

The Senate sent the texting bill to the House with texting as a primary offense and talking on a hand-held cell phone a secondary offense.  The WV House voted to make both texting and use of a hand-held cell phone primary offenses with $100, $200, and $500 fines.  In conference committee Saturday evening, the three senators suggested a compromise phasing in the hand-held provision as a primary offense after two years.  The House responded that if the Senate would agree to a one year phase in, they would agree to lower the fines to $100, $200, and $300 for first and subsequent offenses.  When the bill goes to the governor, texting will be a primary offense as of July 1, 2012 and use of a hand-held phone a secondary offense.  Use of a hand-held phone will become a primary offense on July 1, 2013.  Though the governor’s original bill made both offenses secondary, the governor has said he supports the bill as it is and praises it as a measure to make West Virginia roads safer.

According to a United States Government program called Distraction.gov, distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.

These types of distractions include:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

But, because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.

The best way to end distracted driving is to educate all Americans about the danger it poses. On this page, you’ll find facts and statistics that are powerfully persuasive. If you don’t already think distracted driving is a safety problem, please take a moment to learn more. And, as with everything on Distraction.gov, please share these facts with others. Together, we can help save lives..

Key Facts and Statistics

  • In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction, and an estimated 448,000 were injured. (NHTSA)
  • 16% of fatal crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA)
  • 20% of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA)
  • In the month of June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the US, up nearly 50% from June 2009. (CTIA)
  • Teen drivers are more likely than other age groups to be involved in a fatal crash where distraction is reported. In 2009, 16% of teen drivers involved in a fatal crash were reported to have been distracted. (NHTSA)
  • 40% of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger. (Pew)
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Monash University)
  • Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. (VTTI)
  • Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind. (VTTI)
  • Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use. (VTTI)
  • Using a cell phone while driving – whether it’s hand-held or hands-free delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah)
  • Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%. (Carnegie Mellon)
 

Chart from NegligentDriving.com

Robinette Legal Group, PLLC: We’re here to help.

If we can be of any further assistance to you, it would be our pleasure to speak with you personally about your injury claim. You may reach us at http://www.robinettelaw.com and http://www.robinettelaw.com/Car-Accident-Injuries/ or call our law office at 1-304-594-1800.

Additional information from a community outreach sponsored by Verizon Wireless which seeks to educate the public and support legislation and new technological solutions for driving responsibly:  http://aboutus.verizonwireless.com/commitment/safety_security/dont_text_and_drive/

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Pickup Truck Driver Killed in Head on Collision with a Coal Truck

A Blacksville, WV man was killed in a collision with a coal truck in  Monongalia County when his pickup truck crossed the center line on the Mason Dixon bridge.  West Virginia Highway 7 was closed for several hours as emergency crews responded to the truck accident.  The driver of the coal truck, who was hauling coal from the Blacksville No. 2 mine to Longview Power Plant, is in good physical condition.  The cause of the fatal driving error is not yet known.

The National Safety Council has designated April 1-30, 2012 as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  For more information, see blog “One Text or Call Could Wreck it All.”

Robinette Legal Group, PLLC: We’re here to help.

If we can be of any further assistance to you, it would be our pleasure to speak with you personally about injury claims. You may reach us at http://www.robinettelaw.com and http://www.robinettelaw.com/Car-Accident-Injuries/ or call our law office at 1-304-594-1800.