What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

In general, vehicular homicide, also called negligent homicide, involves a person’s death that is the result of a driver’s negligent operation of a motor vehicle, or resulting from operating a vehicle while committing some unlawful act that may not necessarily amount to a felony.  The charges are compounded if the negligent driver was drunk, DWI, or under the influence of drugs at the time of the collision.

The victim of a vehicular homicide wrongful death can either be a pedestrian, another motorist, or a cyclist, or the victim can be the passenger in the car, SUV, boat, truck, bus, or motorcycle.

In West Virginia, when the  wrongful death of any person happens within one year as a  result of injuries received by an individual who is in reckless disregard of the safety of others, the person who caused the collision may be guilty of negligent homicide.

In WV, this crime may be punished by imprisonment for up to one year and/or by a fine of $100.00 to $1,000.00 and that driver may lose his or her license if convicted of negligent homicide.

The term “vehicular homicide” has been discussed lately as Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner faces charges stemming from a deadly four-car accident in which Jenner was involved.  One woman was killed in the wreck and others injured.

The police investigation into the deadly four-car accident involving Jenner is finished and the results could lead to a misdemeanor manslaughter charge.  The laws pertaining to vehicular homicide have the legal effect of calling a vehicle which is being recklessly driven a potentially deadly or dangerous weapon.

Jenner was driving a black Cadillac SUV that was the third vehicle in a multiple rear-end collision.  Jenner’s SUV hit a car from behind, sending it into oncoming traffic where it was hit by another SUV.  That driver died at the scene.

Even though Jenner was traveling under the posted speed limit, the investigation determined that Jenner was going at an unsafe speed for the conditions at the time of the collision.

The DC Caller recently featured an editorial which contemplates the question that is on the minds of some:  if Jenner is criminally charged and found guilty, does he/she face time in a male or female prison? Of course this will never happen, as Jenner will hire the best defense attorney available.  That’s an interesting question which will have to be decided by the courts, but nevertheless, male or female, that issue would not affect the insurance issues related to the personal injury and wrongful death claims resulting from that collision.

As far as compensation for a family who has suffered such a tragic loss due to the negligence of another motorist, insurance may not only be limited to policy limits, but also punitive damages resulting in greater compensation may be pursued if the negligence was due to DUI or DWI.

Morgantown Wrongful Death Attorney

If your family has suffered the loss of a loved one, provider, or child, just as the offending driver must retain a criminal lawyer for the protection of his or her legal rights, it is imperative that the suffering from that driver’s actions retain an attorney to represent their best interests.  The insurance companies are just that, companies most concerned with their bottom line.

To secure your financial future after such tragic loss, contact a Morgantown personal injury attorney for a free consultation today.  304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695 to speak directly with a National Board Certified Trial Attorney for his opinion of your case based on twenty-five years experience with insurance companies and collision claims.

You May Also Want to Check Out These Articles:

Other articles you will find helpful:

Should I use Facebook or other Social Media if Considering an Injury Claim?

If you wait, it may be too late.

It is Your Responsibility to Protect Your Legal Rights after an Accident.

Why is the Insurance Company Offering so Little for my Claim?

Sources:
CNN, “Caitlyn Jenner could face misdemeanor manslaughter charge in car crash,” By Steve Almasy and Paul Vercammen, August 20, 2015.

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week November 3-10, 2013

In an effort to reduce the number of fatigue-related crashes and to save lives, the National Sleep Foundation has declared November 3-10, 2013 to be Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®.  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.

FedEx Truck Accident in West Virginia

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. FedEx Truck Crash on I-79 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.  A passenger car traveling ahead of the tractor-trailer ran off the west edge of I-79 south, coming to rest against a guardrail.  Amazingly, no one was killed or seriously injured.  Three people were taken to the hospital, treated, and released.  The FedEx driver was from North Dakota and the semi-truck driver was from Arizona.

Early Morning Collision in Huntington WV:

More recently,  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.
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 was not destroyed and was transferred to another truck by Postal Service crews.

 

All of these truck drivers illustrate the type of drivers that are most at risk for driving error due to drowsiness.  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.

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.
  • Avoid driving at times you would normally be asleep.
  • 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.

Posted by the 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 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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Texting While Driving Four Times More Dangerous Than Drunk Driving

A bill that would outlaw texting and using a hand-held cell phone while driving was passed unanimously by the West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee.  Texting while driving would now be a primary offense.  Using a hand-held cell phone would still be a secondary offense.  A person who texts while driving is twenty-three times more likely to be involved in an accident.

The West Virginia Trucking Association also supports the bill.  Truckers  are already prohibited from texting or talking on hand-held phones while driving.

Texting while driving is a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways. In 2009 alone, nearly 5,500 people were killed and 450,000 more were injured in distracted driving crashes.

The Senate bill sets the fines at $50 for the first offense; $100 for the second offense, and $200 for each subsequent offense.  Drivers would be penalized three points for a third texting offense.

Governor Tomblin supports the bill.  The bill will now go to the full Senate, and a similar version is being considered in the House.

Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes by Age and Vehicle Type, 2009

Total Drivers

 

Distracted Drivers

 

Drivers With Cell Phone*

(% of Distracted Drivers)

 

Total 

45,230

 

5,084 (11%)

 

1,006 (20%)

 

Drivers by Age Group

 

Under 20 

3,967

 

619 (16%)

 

138 (22%)

 

20-29 

10,719

 

1,378 (13%)

 

293 (21%)

 

30-39 

7,633

 

832 (11%)

 

196 (24%)

 

40-49 

7,930

 

811 (10%)

 

161 (20%)

 

50-59 

6,559

 

631 (10%)

 

124 (20%)

 

60-69 

3,968

 

367 (9%)

 

56 (15%)

 

70+ 

3,778

 

408 (11%)

 

37 (9%)

 

Drivers by Vehicle Type

 

Passenger Car 

18,279

 

2,044 (11%)

 

386 (19%)

 

Light Truck 

17,822

 

2,117 (12%)

 

475 (22%)

 

Motorcycle 

4,593

 

562 (12%)

 

63 (11%)

 

Large Truck 

3,187

 

257 (8%)

 

75 (29%)

 

Bus 

221

 

14 (6%)

 

3 (21%)

 

 

 

Common Shoulder Injuries after an Accident

Was your shoulder hurt in an accident in West Virginia (WV)?

Many people suffer from shoulder pain either immediately or shortly after a car wreck, motorcycle, or bike accident, slip and fall, or after having been hurt in a work accident.  The severe trauma to the shoulder joint caused the impact of an accident can result in several different types shoulder injuries.

Human Shoulder PainThe shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint with three main bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), collarbone and shoulder blade (scapula). These bones are held together by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The shoulder joint has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. Because of this mobility, the shoulder is more likely to be injured, especially the  acromioclavicular (AC) joint, which lays over the top of the shoulder.

What you don’t know can hurt you. Click here to receive the information you need before signing away your rights to compensation: 7 Facts You Need to Know about WV Injury Claims.

Common shoulder injuries you may experience after an accident

  • Rotator cuff tear:  the most common shoulder injury after an accident is a stretching, tear, or rip in the tendons and ligaments in the shoulder joint. The shoulder has three separate joints, and any of these joints can be separated, causing extreme pain and loss of movement.
  • Fractured bone
  • Bruises
  • Strains and sprains
  • Frozen shoulder

Common symptoms of shoulder injury

  • Painfully tender, stiff shoulder that hurts more at night and may interrupt sleeping
  • Tingling, numbness, weakness, or swelling in shoulder
  • Shoulder pain in a specific spot that may worsen with exertion
  • Difficulty moving arm in any direction without pain
  • Sudden, intense pain in shoulder area
  • Pale, blue or otherwise discolored shoulder area

click here for free report buttonWhat type of treatment will I need for a shoulder injury?

  • If you suspect a broken bone or tear resulting from your accident, seek medical care immediately.  Do not move the shoulder; stabilize its position.
  • Shoulder injuries can be accurately diagnosed by an orthopedic doctor through tests such as x-rays, CAT scans, MRIs, and clinical evaluation.
  • The remedy may be as simple as the use of a sling to immobilize your arm and rest your shoulder to promote healing and reduce pain.
  • Elevation, compression, and ice may also aid healing.
  • A torn muscle or ligament or tendon may require prompt surgery, so an early diagnosis is essential for maximizing your recovery.
  • Pain can be coming from somewhere else in your body (referred shoulder pain), so accurate, as well as early, diagnosis is essential.
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery

Frozen Shoulder

A frozen shoulder usually begins when injury or overuse causes pain that, in turn, limits the shoulder’s range of motion. Common conditions that cause pain in the shoulder are bursitis or a tear in the rotator cuff.

If you don’t move your shoulder much at all for many weeks, the tissue surrounding the shoulder joint thickens and shrinks. It loses its ability to stretch. When you try to move it even a little, it hurts. So to avoid the pain, you move the shoulder even less. As a result, the joint capsule stiffens even further. It’s a vicious cycle.

A frozen shoulder can take months to develop.  The cornerstone of treatment is physical therapy. At first, you’ll concentrate on exercises that stretch the joint capsule. Then you’ll move on to strengthening exercises.

Full recovery can take several months or even longer. If you don’t improve steadily, go back to your doctor or consult a shoulder expert. In rare cases, a frozen shoulder that doesn’t respond to the treatments I’ve discussed may require surgery.

Collision Care Ebook adIt wasn’t my fault — how am I going to pay for treatment? 

If a combination of home treatment and physical therapy does not help your shoulder injury, shoulder surgery may be required.  Surgery is not only expensive, but will require recovery time away from your workplace, limitations on your daily activities, and time and money spent on physical therapy and doctor’s visits.  If your shoulder has been injured due to someone else’s carelessness or negligence, please contact our office for a free consultation to determine the best course for obtaining the financial resources needed to pay for your treatment and lost wages.

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Workplace Injury/Wrongful Death Lawyers. Call us today: 304-216-6695 or 304-594-1800 for your free copy of Righting the Wrong: WV Serious Injury Guide or Collision Care:  WV Auto Collision Injury Guide.  These books will answer your questions concerning negotiations with the insurance companies.

Visit our website or call today for more information: 1-304-594-1800 or after hours, 1-304-216-6695.

West Virginia Car Crash? Don’t self-diagnose injuries – get a doctor’s opinion.

If you have been involved in a serious car crash, it is important that you follow the advice of the EMS personnel and get immediate medical attention, even if you aren’t certain you have been injured.

After an accident, many auto accident victims make the mistake of trying to minimize the ordeal they have just experienced.  The attention a car accident generates can be embarrassing as well as traumatic.  Many people just want to go to the comfort of home as quickly as possible rather than continuing this major interruption to their life by spending four hours or more at an emergency room.

If you were involved in a car accident and initially refused medical evaluation and treatment, you may be surprised by symptoms showing up later.  Adrenaline can mask physical symptoms in the minutes following an accident, and some injuries such as back pain and head trauma don’t reveal themselves until hours or days later.

A thorough medical evaluation can diagnose and treat internal injuries that could save your life, and early treatment could improve your chance of a full recovery.  Having a doctor’s evaluation of the car accident’s impact on your overall health will also assist you in knowing whether you need to file an insurance claim for damages, future treatment, and lost wages.

Even if you refused medical treatment immediately after your car accident, and you discover injuries days or weeks after the crash, you could still have a personal injury case.  Please contact Morgantown car accident lawyers at the Robinette Legal Group to learn more.

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week November 12-18, 2012

In an effort to reduce the number of fatigue-related crashes and to save lives, the National Sleep Foundation is declaring November 12-18, 2012 to be Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®.  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.

FedEx Truck Accident in West Virginia

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.  A passenger car traveling ahead of the tractor-trailer ran off the west edge of I-79 south, coming to rest against a guardrail.  Amazingly, no one was killed or seriously injured.  Three people were taken to the hospital, treated, and released.  The FedEx driver was from North Dakota and the semi-truck driver was from Arizona.

At least two of these drivers illustrate the types of drivers that are most at risk for driving error due to drowsiness.  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.

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.
  • Avoid driving at times you would normally be asleep.
  • 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