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 an solution which 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 hightension 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 which 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 system 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 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

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Source:  National Transportation Safety Board, “Safety Recommendation.”  October 4th, 2011.  http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/recletters/2011/H-11-028.pdf

Head-on Collision in Harrison County

Anyone who drives knows the care that must be applied when meeting oncoming traffic, especially at high speeds. Nonetheless, drivers cause head-on collisions every day, putting innocent lives at risk.  Due to the sheer physics involved in head-on collisions, the resulting injuries are typically severe and catastrophic, and all too often, head-on collisions result in fatal injuries.

For example, on November 20, 2013 in Harrison County a pick-up truck traveling east on Route 50 crossed the median, hitting a Subaru Forester traveling westbound before rolling over the embankment.  Two Air Evac Medical Teams out of Wetzel County were called to the scene on Highway 50.  Tragically, sheriff’s officials confirmed that this accident resulted in the death of the two men who were in the Subaru.  At the time of this posting, it is not know what was the cause of the truck crossing the median and the current medical condition of driver of the pick-up.  In cases where there are no outside witnesses to a collision, particularly in cases where death has resulted, accident reconstruction experts will be called in to provide these grieving families with some answers as to how the accident occurred and who was at fault.

One week later, on Route 57 in Harrison County, a 16 year old female driver with an 18 year old passenger was attempting to pass on a curve in a no-passing zone and lost control of her vehicle and slid into traffic in the eastbound lane.  The horrible result was that two teen girls’ lives were cut short, and the two occupants of the eastbound car are receiving treatment for serious injuries; one determined now to be in fair condition, but the other is still in very serious condition.

How do head-on collisions occur?

Head-on collisions can occur when:

  • A driver falls asleep at the wheel and swerves into oncoming traffic
  • A driver loses control on ice
  • A driver swerves to avoid hitting a deer or other animal
  • A drunk driver crosses lanes
  • A motorist drives the wrong way on a one-way lane or approach
  • A driver attempts to pass other vehicles in an illegal or unsafe manner

At Robinette Legal Group, we are dedicated to helping injured people and their families recover compensation for the losses they have suffered. We are prepared to handle the most complex cases involving serious injuries and wrongful death.  If you or a loved one has been injured in a head-on collision caused by another driver’s negligence, it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.

We have the skill and resources to handle cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death. If you have been seriously injured, an experienced car accident lawyer will carefully assess the full extent of the damage and how it will affect you today and in the future. We take everything into account, including your need for ongoing medical treatment, physical therapy, adaptive equipment and other needs.

For families that have lost loved ones in fatal car accidents, we apply the same thorough approach. We will help you pursue compensation for lost earnings, loss of companionship, emotional pain and suffering and other damages. We are committed to helping you obtain the resources you need to make it through this difficult time.

Contact Us

Contact us to learn how we can help you recover full and fair money damages for your head-on accident injuries and financial losses. From our offices in Morgantown, we represent clients in car accident and motor vehicle injury cases throughout West Virginia.  If you have questions concerning a head on collision, call us today at 304-594-1800 or 304-216-6695 after hours to obtain the answers you need today.

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Source:  WBOY News, “Update: Route 50 Eastbound Near Dog Run Closed Following Vehicle Crash” November 20,2013.

Common Sense is Still your Best Defense

OSHA’s tongue-in-cheek April Fool’s day training blog post recommended two free smartphone apps to help you detect whether or not the roads, parking lots, and sidewalks are safe this winter.  Even though black ice is not a laughing matter, your best protection against slip and fall and road accidents is still just good common sense.

OSHA Cold App – Here are the instructions on how to use this App:  Place your smartphone face up on the ground in an open area located outdoors, exposed to the elements. Wait 12 minutes, and then scratch a fingernail over the screen. Then look at the screen; if you see a layer of frost buildup on the screen, very cold weather has been detected. You should immediately take a break and sip some hot chocolate.

OSHA Black Ice Detection App – this is another cold weather-related App, and it helps you detect when a thin layer of hard-to-see “black ice” has built up on sidewalks or pavement, which could lead to a nasty slip and fall. To use this App, follow these instructions:

Place your smartphone flat on its back on top of the sidewalk or pavement. Use one hand (either left or right) to give the phone a shove. If the phone easily slides across the pavement, black ice has been detected, and you should immediately apply some ice-melting compound before walking on the sidewalk or pavement.

All joking aside, did you know that OSHA has declared black ice is the deadliest of all winter driving hazards?

Winter can be a stunningly beautiful season when the snow rests on the trees and the roads are clear as it was in Morgantown this morning.   Driving hazards are increased exponentially, though, as the temperature drops below freezing and can make even the simplest commute extremely dangerous.  Challenges and risks unique to the season require heightened vigilance, and drivers must adjust their driving to meet the demands of the road.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), black ice is the deadliest of all winter driving hazards.  More accurately, black ice is transparent ice without ripples or bubbles which may cause the surface of asphalt shine as if merely wet.  This type of ice can be nearly invisible.  Obviously, if freezing rain is forecast, it is prudent to heed the weather report’s advice to stay home if at all possible.

What is Black Ice?

  • A coating of thin, transparent ice forms on the surface of the road from moisture or airborne exhaust particles when there is a sudden drop in temperature.
  • Black ice forms so quickly that OSHA calls it the deadliest of all winter driving hazards.
  • Black ice is more common at night and early mornings.  Asphalt roads, shaded areas, and bridges are particularly hazardous.
  • Intersections can also be dangerous as spinning tires and vehicle exhaust melt snow which refreezes as an invisible coating.

Warning signs which can indicate road ice hazards:

 ice on mirrorThe most obvious warning sign is the knowledge that the temperature has dropped to freezing or near freezing.  If you aren’t sure, a professional truck driver’s tip is to run your finger down the outer edge of your driver’s side mirror.  If ice is forming on the mirror, you know it is cold enough for ice to form on the roads.  Also, look for shiny patches on the pavement which are slightly darker in color than the surrounding road surface.

Treated roadways may not freeze up right away, but there may still be patches of frozen surfaces on bridges, overpasses, lightly traveled roadways, and untreated road surfaces. These areas can become extremely hazardous very quickly. Construction zones and roadways which change from one surface to another, such as from concrete to asphalt, also are potentially risky areas.

What you can do to minimize hazards from black ice:

  • Braking on black ice can take up to nine times longer than usual, so anticipate braking distance to avoid losing control.
  • Remain calm and do not brake suddenly or make any other sudden movements.
  • Slow down as much as possible while also trying to avoid being rear-ended.
  • Winter tires can reduce braking distance by up to 50% as compared to all-season tires.
  • If you do start to skid, take your foot off gas pedal, shift the transmission into neutral, and look and steer in the direction you wish to go.  Wait until you are well out of a turn before you accelerate.
  • ABS will not help your vehicle stop any shorter, but will prevent your brakes from locking.  If you do not have ABS and feel your wheels locking, release the pressure slightly to avoid locked wheels which will not allow you to change direction.
  • Even the best drivers can lose to ice.  Stay off the roads if at all possible.

In all seriousness, stay in and stay safe!

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC of Morgantown, WV.  Working together to keep your family safe.  If you have questions concerning vehicle collision injuries or insurance issues related to a winter hazard injury, please contact us today at 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695 or visit our website for the answers you need today.

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Source: “Four Best OSHA-related Safety Apps on the Web – Download Them All for FREE” April 1, 2013:  http://oshatrainingservices.blogspot.com/2013/04/four-best-osha-related-safety-apps-on.html

If you Wait, it May be Too Late…

The following is from the transcript of a live chat our office recently received:

“I was in a car accident 2 years ago.  I have a head injury.  I have to take meds the rest of my life, and still have a knot on my head.  My doctor bills are around $10,000.00.”

“I called the insurance company to try to settle my claim about 2 weeks before the 2 years were up.  I didn’t know 2 years was all I had.  He told me he could not do anything with it until I had a doctor’s release form and to call him after I got it.  Then a week or so later I got a letter saying my case was closed.  When I called him he said they would not pay anything, even though I tried to settle it before the 2 years.”

She waited too long, trusted the adjustor, and now it is too late.

What is the Time Limit for Filing a Personal Injury Claim in West Virginia?gavel and clock

West Virginia law provides that you have two years from the date of the auto collision to take legal action (i.e., file a lawsuit) against responsible individuals and companies, including insurance companies, to seek compensation for the damages (i.e., your injuries and losses) you sustained in the auto collision.

If you do not file a lawsuit within the two-year statute of limitations period, your claim will be forever time-barred. Two years may sound like a long time from now, but believe me, it is not when considering all the things that must be done to secure your legal rights against the responsible parties.    Every day that you wait to seek legal counsel equates to a loss of opportunity to obtain full compensation for your injuries.

Don’t miss your only chance for a fair insurance settlement

There are laws that protect you and your family from the consequences of the negligent and wrongful behavior of others who caused your injuries and losses.  Your damages, which include your medical and financial losses and obligations, should be paid by the parties responsible for causing your injuries and losses — but they won’t pay, that is, not without a legal battle.

An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to enforce your legal rights against the wrongdoers that caused your injuries and losses in a fair and professional way to obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

What could happen if I wait to contact a Lawyer?

The first 60 to 90 days following your auto collision can make or break your case.   It is within this shorter time period that necessary evidence and testimony must be secured, treatment rendered and medical opinions obtained.

If you wait until after this time period has passed, and you have not developed your claim properly, it will make the job of even a good lawyer very hard to obtain a full recovery for you.   Worse yet, if you wait until close to the two-year statute of limitations period to consult with a lawyer, it is almost guaranteed that your claim has already been compromised.

You have one chance to gain fair compensation for your auto accident injuries.  Make sure it is done right.

Morgantown WV Injury Lawyers

If you need assistance with an insurance claim regarding a motor vehicle collision, we can help.  Call the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC  today for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney:  304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695 or visit our website to find answers to your questions.  You don’t have to handle this alone.

For more information, see our free report “Why the Insurance Company Doesn’t Want You to Hire a Lawyer.”

Source:  Collision Care — West Virginia Auto Injury Guide by Jeffery Robinette, Word Association Publishers, 2012.

Early Morning U.S. Mail Truck Collision with Tanker Closes I-64

HUNTINGTON WV – The Huntington Police Department is investigating a crash involving two, tractor-trailer trucks which shut down all westbound lanes of Interstate 64 in Huntington.  Dispatchers received word of the crash at about 4:30 a.m. Thursday, October 17, 2013.

The crash involved a box truck owned by the U.S. Mail and a tanker truck carrying an unspecified substance. Dispatchers said the box truck overturned due to the crash’s impact and was leaking fuel from its tanks. One of the trucks also hit a bridge and knocked off a chunk of its concrete wall.
mail truck on side
The accident happened at the 9.5-mile marker, located just east of the 5th Street Road exit in Huntington. Officials were diverting westbound traffic off the Hal Greer and 29th Street exits.
Thankfully, there were no reported injuries, and unlike a May 2013 accident on I-64 in Kentucky involving a mail truck which caught fire as a result of a fuel leak, the contents of this US Postal Service truck were not destroyed and was transferred to another truck by Postal Service crews.  Even so, it is a good idea to follow up with any mail sent to or from this area recently if it is of any great importance.

New trucking regulations address the problem of extreme tiredness in truckers:

Both of these of these truck drivers involved in this 4:30 a.m. crash illustrate the types of drivers that are most at risk for driving error due to drowsiness.  In an effort to increase safety on our roadways and reduce driver fatigue, a leading factor in large truck crashes, the Department of Transportation has updated its mandates for breaks and rest periods for long haul truckers.

Tired drivers are far more likely to cause accidents than those who are well rested and driving in compliance with federal trucking guidelines. Tired drivers may also enter a dangerous state known as “highway hypnosis” in which dozens of miles may pass that they do not even remember. Whether a driver falls asleep at the wheel or is inattentive due to lack of sleep, the resulting accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.  Under the new guidelines, drivers will have to stick to a schedule that requires taking a 30-minute break in the first eight hours of driving, cut the maximum workweek to 70 hours from 82, and “restart” those 70 hours with a 34-hour break once a week.

We are all guilty of driving while drowsy:

We all recognize 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.  Most of us are not professional truck drivers, but drowsy driving affects us all.

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.
  • Avoid driving at times you would normally be asleep.
  • Avoid alcohol and medicines that cause drowsiness.

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.
  • 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.

Before we launch into the fall and winter holidays, we need to consider the potential impact of driving while exhausted could have on our own safety, our families, and other drivers sharing the road with us.

Working with you to keep our families safe — The Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, Morgantown Personal Injury Attorneys serving the state of West Virginia.  We have vast experience handling truck accident claims.  If you need help with a motor vehicle collision insurance issue, call us today at 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

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Source:  The Herald Dispatch, “Major truck crash closes I-64 Westbound” by Curtis Johnson, http://www.herald-dispatch.com/breaking/x1084575914/Major-truck-crash-closes-I-64-westbound, October 17, 2013

Logging Truck Crash Derails Fall Foliage Passenger Train in WV

logging truck and train accident on Cheat Mountain (2)Cheat Mountain WV — What could be safer than a pleasant day out with children and grandparents traveling on a scenic passenger railroad train through the mountains at ten miles an hour to admire the fall colors?  You just never know what a day can bring.  On this day in October, a logging truck failed to stop at a railroad crossing at the U.S. Route 250 crossing at Cheat Bridge on Cheat Mountain near the Randolph and Pocahontas County line.  The truck collided with a fall foliage sight-seeing passenger train, the Cheat Mountain Salamander, and caused two of the passenger cars to derail and overturn on their sides.

As bad as this collision was, it could have been far, far worse.  According to WVMetroNews, there were four cars on the train, and the truck hit the third car that was being used as a dining car and the logs from the truck went into the second car which was being used as storage and did not contain passengers.

The cars were reinforced with crash posts which is why the cars didn’t crumple when they were hit by this tremendous force and why metal didn’t shear and glass didn’t shatter.  Instead, they just got knocked off their track.  A second’s difference could have made all the difference for the passengers of this train.

The conditions for viewing the outstanding Cheat Mountain Sugar Maple display were not optimum on Friday, October 11th, 2013, which was a day plagued with drizzle, rain, and persistent fog.  The train carrying 63 sightseers and four crew members was traveling about ten miles per hour.

There was no immediate evidence that the truck driver had attempted to brake before his truck carrying logs ran through flashing railroad caution signals and crashed into two passenger cars of the Cheat Mountain Salamander, said a Randolph County Sheriff.  A complete brake failure, combination of thick fog and rain, or medical condition could have precipitated the accident.

The train’s engineer had to run a third of a mile to get assistance after the crash.  The site of the logging truck-train collision is in the no radio, no cell phone area near the Greenbriar Radio Telescope.  Injuries ranged from minor to serious — all 67 people on the train were transported for medical evaluation — some by school bus and some by ambulance.  HealthNet helicopters were not available because of the weather.  Over twenty people were treated for injuries.

The driver of the truck was declared dead at the scene and the truck was a total loss.  The Sheriff identified the log truck as belonging to H & H Fisher LLC of Pocahontas County.  An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death of the truck driver.

Investigators are working with the Public Service Commission rather than the National Safety Board which is not operating due to the partial government shutdown.

Unique Aspects of Logging Truck Accidents

Accidents involving commercial trucks are different than any other kind of motor vehicle accidents. In the first place, logging trucks and mining trucks on West Virginia roads are often fully loaded. Their sheer size and mass puts everything else on the road in danger. In addition, the companies that own and operate freight and cargo trucks are subject to federal safety standards. They know the level of liability they are under and will do everything possible to deny responsibility when one of their drivers is at fault.

Truck companies are under regulations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) to keep detailed records of maintenance and driver activities. After a serious collision, these records could be altered or even disappear.  But as experienced trial lawyers with defense experience, we know how to guard against such actions. We hold the opposition to the highest standards of the regulations.

West Virginia Trucking Accident Lawyers

If you or a member of your family has been involved in an accident with a commercial truck of any size or weight class, talk to us. We provide a free consultation to discuss your case. If we are a good fit with each other, and you decide to retain our services, we will represent you on a contingency basis. You will not pay attorneys’ fees unless we help you recover money.

Time is an important factor in truck accident claims. Contact the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC today at 304-594-1800 or after hours 304-216-6695.

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For more information:  WV MetroNews, “Several still recovering from train accident; investigation continues” by Shauna Johnson, October 14, 2013:  http://wvmetronews.com/2013/10/14/several-still-recovering-from-train-accident-investigation-continues/

What if I was Partly at Fault for the Accident?

Q.  What is Comparative Fault in an Accident Case?

A.  In order for you to pursue a liability claim against someone else for your injuries, the cause of your injuries must have been predominately caused by their conduct, and not your own. For instance, if you were severely injured in an auto collision, and your driving merely contributed in some small way (e.g., you were traveling 60 mph in a 55 mph speed zone), you will not likely be foreclosed from pursuing your injury claim against the other at-fault driver.

However, the percentage of your own fault (called “comparative fault”) will reduce your compensation by the same percentage of fault you contributed to causing the auto collision. So, if you are found by a jury to have been 20% at fault in causing the auto collision, your compensation will be reduced by 20% of the total verdict.

 How the Insurance Company will Use Comparative Fault

Insurance adjusters exaggerate the impact of your conduct—like going 5mph over the speed limit—as a basis to substantially reduce the value of your injury claim. The same result occurs in construction injury or coal mine injury cases, where the adjuster exaggerates the impact of the employee’s conduct to show that the injuries would not have occurred if the employee had followed safe work practices.

 When “Who was at Fault?” is an Issue, You Need a Strong Advocate on Your Side

While the law permits your own comparative fault to be as high as 49%, the closer your own fault gets to this maximum percentage, the less you will be compensated, and you run the risk that you will be completely foreclosed from recovering anything at all. If your fault equates to 50%, then you will be foreclosed from any recovery or compensation for your injuries. For instance, if a construction worker decides to remove his safety equipment in violation of safety rules, and is injured, it is likely that the worker’s conduct will be viewed as a significant contributing factor to his own injuries.

The law and jurors take a dim view of parties whose own conduct significantly contributes to their own injuries. Be aware that insurance adjusters try to craft reasons why your alleged negligent conduct equaled or exceeded that of their own insured, which has the end result of you receiving little to nothing in settlement of your injury claim, which is why it is essential you have a skilled personal injury attorney on your side fighting for you.

Morgantown WV Personal Injury Lawyers

The Robinette Legal Group is ready to stand up and fight for your rights to pursue full and fair money damages after a wrokplace injury or motor vehicle accident.  You can try to file an insurance claim yourself, but there are some important things you will come to realize over time. The insurance company isn’t interested in protecting your rights and they will minimize the value of your injuries and your financial losses. That’s why having an experienced trial attorney from our firm is so important. We have years of experience handling personal injury cases, as both defense lawyers and on behalf of injury victims.

Jeff Robinette at the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC is glad to answer questions about work injury and auto accident claims.  Call today:  304-594-1800 or 24 hour line:  304-216-6695.

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Tired Truckers Protest New Regulations

FedEx Truck Crash on I-79New Rules for Truckers

In an effort to increase safety on our roadways and reduce driver fatigue, a leading factor in large truck crashes, the Department of Transportation has updated its mandates for breaks and rest periods for long haul truckers.

Tired drivers are far more likely to cause accidents than those who are well rested and driving in compliance with federal trucking guidelines. Tired drivers may also enter a dangerous state known as “highway hypnosis” in which dozens of miles may pass that they do not even remember. Whether a driver falls asleep at the wheel or is inattentive due to lack of sleep, the resulting accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.

New Schedule Guidelines for Truckers

Starting Monday, drivers will have to stick to a schedule that requires taking a 30-minute break in the first eight hours of driving, cut the maximum workweek to 70 hours from 82, and “restart” those 70 hours with a 34-hour break once a week.

The rules are part of a program to make U.S. highways safer by reducing the number of truck accidents and fatalities. The program also includes a safety rating system that shippers can review when they chose a new carrier, with the goal of prodding the trucking industry to further improve the safety of its drivers and equipment.

Recent Examples of Driving Fatigue in West Virginia

Driver fatigue is a dangerous condition on highways throughout West Virginia. Federal laws regulate how many miles a truck driver can travel per day, per week and on consecutive days. All too often, however, truck drivers push these limits to increase profits or because they are pressured by their employers. In either case, the lives of innocent motorists, passengers and pedestrians are put at risk.

  • This year in Doddridge County three people were injured when an ambulance driver 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.
  • Last July, Richard Detamore was killed when he and coworker Jacob Rowan Forrest were ejected from their vehicle. Now Ashley Detamore is suing her husband’s employer, Nabors Well Services for negligence and wrongful death.  She said the Nabors company knew her husband and Forrest, both truckers for Nabors, had worked more than 30 hours in a 48-hour span.
  • In October, 2012 near Morgantown, WV a FedEx truck was traveling north in the southbound lanes shortly before 1 a.m. when the driver tried to make a U-turn to correct his direction.  The FedEx driver caused a truck accident when he struck a tractor-trailer which then crossed the median into the northbound lanes and crashed through a guardrail on the east edge of the road.

What does the Trucking Industry Think About New Rules?

But the trucking industry—which has sued to have the rules reversed—is warning that they will mean more highway traffic and high shipping costs for consumers. Truckers are saying, “If I get any more breaks out here I won’t be able to make a living.”

What the complainers are missing is that trucking is dangerous when drivers are too tired to be on full alert at all times.   Slugging out the last hundred miles every day is what the new laws are designed to address.   The truckers should actually “rest” during the rest stops instead of playing arcade games, going gambling or watching movies.   That is not rest.

The new rules are predicted to prevent 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries, and saving 19 lives each year.  The DOT says the new rules will also produce a broader economic benefit. The department’s analysis found that in 2009 alone, large truck and bus accidents cost some $20 billion in medical and insurance costs, infrastructure damage, lost wages and productivity. The analysis also estimated $470 million in benefits from reduced driver mortality.

 Jeff Robinette, West Virginia Truck Accident Attorney

Jeff Robinette is a National Board Certified Trial Attorney who has focused his practice on motor vehicle accidents.  Our office is in Morgantown, but we represent clients in car accident and motor vehicle injury cases in Monongalia County, Taylor County, Doddridge County, Marion County, and Preston County, West Virginia.

Free Books for WV Accident Victims

Call us today: 304-216-6695 or 304-594-1800 for your free copy of Righting the Wrong: WV Serious Injury Guide; Collision Care: WV Auto Injury Guide; or Beside Still Waters: WV Fatal Injury Guide for Families. We are glad to answer your questions.

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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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