Articles from our Morgantown Personal Injury Law Office about Safety Issues, Insurance Law, Auto Accidents, Personal Injury Claims, and Other Legal Issues in West Virginia. Questions? Call 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695 today.
Four people were taken to the hospital following a two pickup-truck wreck on Interstate 79 on Saturday, July 7, 2012.
At about 3 p.m., emergency responders were called to the wreck near the Star City exit. Monongalia County Sheriff ’s Deputy J. Wilhelm said it appeared a newer model Chevy truck lost control and struck an older model Chevy truck.
The newer model was traveling southbound, Wilhelm said. It appeared the truck might have missed the exit ramp, Deputy J. Morgan said. The truck travelled across a grassy area before colliding with the older model truck on the on-ramp. The driver of the new model truck was ejected out of the passenger window during the wreck, Morgan said. Three people, including a 2-year-old, were in the older model truck. The severity of their injuries was unknown. Deputies on scene did not release names of those involved in the crash.
In addition to the sheriff ’s department, Mon EMS, Westover Police and the Star City Volunteer Fire Department assisted. Crews closed the on-ramp while they tended to the wreck.
Four people were transported to the hospital, including the female driver of one of the vehicles, who was ejected out the passenger-side window.
Morgantown Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers
You may not need a lawyer, but if you have been injured in a truck accident or car accident, please visit our website at http://www.robinettelaw.com to get answers to your questions or call (304)594-1800 for a free consultation. Jeff Robinette at the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC has helped many car accident and truck accident victims receive the help needed for the best possible recovery to get you back to work and back to the life you enjoy.
Police shut I- 79 southbound down to traffic for more than an hour and a half Sunday after a fatal two-vehicle accident at milepost 158. A driver died instantly when the Mercedes he was driving was hit by a Chevrolet Tracker. The driver of the Tracker had been traveling north on I-79 and had crossed the median and hit the Mercedes which was headed south. The accident happened at about 7:45 p.m. Sunday at the top of the hill just south of the I-79 rest stop, according to the Dominion Post. Those at the scene said a Chevrolet Tracker rolled, coming to rest in the right-hand lane lane. The driver of the Tracker survived and was taken to the hospital by the Star City VFD ambulance.
The Tracker was destroyed; there was not that much damage visible on the Mercedes. Witnesses near the scene of the crash say the area smelled like alcohol, and there were beer cans laying around the accident scene. But police didn’ t initially confirm whether or not either driver had been drinking, according to a news report from WDTV. Now, DUI related charges are pending for the Tracker’s driver.
Traffic was backed up for hours while the northbound lane of I-79 was reduced to one lane at the scene of the accident, three miles north of the Star City exit. Southbound traffic was backed up for about a mile and a half. One southbound lane was reopened at 9:35 p.m. Pennsylvania State Police and a Mount Morris, Pa., fire truck blocked the I-79 southbound lane at the Mount Morris exit, detouring traffic onto U.S. 19 south.
Monongalia County Sheriff ’s deputies are handling the investigation. Assisting at the scene were Westover Police, West Virginia State Police, Star City Volunteer Fire Department and Monongalia EMS.
Take a moment to reflect back on what happened at the instant of the collision, while your mind and body were still in the process of reacting to the traumatic event. Your initial thoughts most likely turned to immediate needs like assessing your own physical condition and, if possible, deciding whether to stay in the vehicle or get out of it. You may have called 911 to report the collision and requested emergency medical support. You may have even been able to check on the physical condition of the other persons involved in the collision. If you were coherent and realized some unsafe condition still existed, like your vehicle being in a dangerous position on the road, or you smelled gasoline, you may have felt that you needed to take additional steps to protect yourself and others from further injury.
Little consideration, if any, was probably given to how you thought others would view your immediate reactions to the collision and the actions you took immediately following the collision. All your actions or omissions (your failure to act) will have an effect on your ability to pursue your legal rights for full and fair compensation for your injuries.
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 your child is injured in a collision, your child will have two years from the date of adulthood to file such a claim. Waiting until your child is an adult, however, creates a significant loss of evidence you will need to prove your child’s claim. For adults, 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. In reality, it is the first 60 to 90 days following your auto collision that will 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 will be compromised. It is somewhat like getting cancer diagnosed early — your chances of improvement are greater the earlier the diagnosis is made. So, don’t wait to get your legal claim diagnosed by a qualified lawyer.
In a typical auto injury case, the injured person is entitled to pursue compensation for their past and future pain and suffering, past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, and their loss of enjoyment of life. If the injuries are very serious and diminish the relationship with a married spouse, loss of consortium (physical and emotional intimacy and services) damages may be awarded to the spouse for those losses they have sustained stemming from your injuries.
Finally, if the at-fault driver was intoxicated or was guilty of grossly negligent behavior, punitive damages may also be awarded in a court of law. With each category of damages, however, there are complex laws and trial court procedures that must be strictly followed in order to prove your injuries in a court of law.
If you are unrepresented, there will be no one to advise you on the law and to ensure that you have met all your legal obligations — any failure on your part to follow these strict rules will have an adverse impact on your auto injury claim. Remember, only those damages that can be proven in a court of law will be considered for compensation.
West Virginia Accident Lawyers: We would be glad to personally answer your questions.
This information has been provided by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC as a public service and does not in any way establish a lawyer/client relationship, but if we can be of any further assistance to you, it would be our pleasure to speak with you personally about your injury claim. Visit us at the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Injury Lawyers.
We provide free books to WV accident victims — Call us today: 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. Call 304-594-1800 today.
The number one way to ruin your otherwise legitimate claim is to lie about anything that relates to your claim. The veracity, that is the truthfulness of your story of your injury, has to be ultimately believed by a jury, and if you lie about even a seemingly insignificant thing, you may not be believed about your injury.
As a true illustration, a client lied to the police about who was driving the vehicle to shield blame from the actual driver who wasn’t supposed to be driving. Irrespective of whether my client or her friend was the driver, it should not have mattered since the collision was caused by the driver of the other vehicle who ran a stop sign. The insurance company and defense lawyer used the lie to refute my client’s injury claims, even though her injuries were legitimate, permanent, and painful. Ultimately, the jury did not fully believe the magnitude of the client’s injuries because she had lied to the police.
If you are the type of person that doesn’t like this type of confrontation, you are going to feel nervous when the insurance adjuster calls to have a chat about your injury claim. Sure, you want to tell the truth, but you also want to receive just compensation, and the questions that are asked make you feel uncomfortable (if not intimidated). When it comes to giving information that will be scrutinized by the insurance adjuster and defense lawyer, guessing about information is not a good idea. You will be characterized as someone who just “makes up” information to fit their financial motives, or worse, you will be considered a liar.
While lying is an act of commission, that is what you do say knowing it is untrue; concealing information is an act of omission, which is what you didn’t say knowing it to be true. Both are wrong and both will ruin your auto injury claim. Before you decide to discuss your case with the insurance adjuster you ought to give careful consideration to the difficulties you will face without legal counsel. It is easy to get confused and say the wrong thing when the insurance adjuster is firing questions at you and you feel the sense of urgency to answer each one, hoping your responses will satisfy the insurance adjuster. Take my word for it, the insurance adjuster is laying traps for you to fall into and will allow you to hang yourself if you are not very careful.
Don’t Exaggerate or Minimize Your Injuries
If you try to play your injuries down, like a lot of people do, you will not be taken seriously. And when your injuries don’t get better, you will be accused of being a malingerer (a person who fakes their injuries). But, on the other hand, if you exaggerate at all the symptoms of your injuries at the outset, you will be labeled as a faker or money-grubber. For instance, if you are losing quality sleep because of neck pain from the auto collision, you should not say that you haven’t slept a wink for two nights. You should say you have tried to sleep, but could not get restful sleep because of the neck pain. Because your symptoms change, sometimes day to day, it is not advisable to speak with an insurance adjuster early on after your auto collision. Of course, it is best to consult an attorney before you speak with an insurance adjuster.
When you visit the emergency room or medical express clinic for your injuries you are routinely given a form that tells you what is expected of you in treating your injuries. If you are prescribed medications it is expected that you will promptly go to a pharmacy and fill the prescription and take the medicine. If you don’t, you will not be taken seriously when you tell an adjuster or jury that you had pain. Likewise, if the physician instructs you to apply hot or cold compresses to your neck and stretch every day, and you don’t, others will minimize your injuries.
Many people work in pain, even with a lot of pain. I know many persons who have worked for years with chronic, constant pain. But early on in your assessment, if you attempt to do normal things in pain, you will be viewed as normal. Pain is invisible; nobody can see your pain. What they can see is how you respond to the pain. So if your conduct resembles that of a normal person, even though you are in pain, your injury will be minimized and so will your compensation.
Don’t Give a Recorded Statement or Sign Anything without Counsel
We have all watched the news programs that tell of the latest investigations or indictments for wrongdoing. Have you noticed how many times the newscaster stated that the accused or involved party was unavailable for comment, or they have no comment? Well, there’s a good reason for this – they don’t have all the information and they know that if they say something wrong, it will be used against them. I have previously explained the hidden dangers of giving a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster. There are times when giving a recorded statement to an adjuster may be in your best interest, but only an experienced lawyer will know when to do so.
When you are injured in an auto collision, which was not your fault, you are viewed in the eyes of the law as a victim. The insurance adjuster, however, doesn’t view you as a victim, but a claimant, a money-grubber (someone who is motivated to get something they don’t deserve). The more the insurance adjusters cheat you out of your recovery, the more applause and promotions they receive. When you are told that you won’t get any recovery until you sign a medical release, you feel like you don’t have any choice in the matter. But when you sign the medical release, an entire world of your personal information is given to the individual who looks on you as a money-grubber, and your records will be used to prove it. I have seen this scenario work out hundreds of times. The motivation of the insurance company to get your records is to disprove or minimize your claim. Additionally, all your medical history will be recorded on national insurance indexes that the insurance industry uses to defeat claims. You have to ask yourself whether giving the insurance adjuster access to all your medical records is necessary and wise.
Hire a Good Lawyer
There is a common saying in the practice of law, “Don’t hire yourself to act as your own lawyer.” The reason for this is that the client lacks objectivity. Objectivity means that you can analyze the law correctly and evaluate the facts of the case in a neutral way. That way you are not overlooking a key weakness in your case. I have known many who represented themselves, and even filed their own lawsuits, but in the end finally come around to the obvious need to have a professional oversee and handle their legal matters. If you had a common cold, you would likely go to the local grocery store and buy some cold medicine. But if you had a severe laceration on the leg, you wouldn’t likely stitch your leg. Many people try to represent themselves because they think it will be like treating a common cold. By the time they realize that a professional is needed, a lot of damage to their claim has already occurred.
By now you know that handling your own auto injury claim has significant challenges, and you decide to hire an Irvine lawyer (or the one based in your city). Keep in mind, though, not every lawyer who takes personal injury cases has the necessary experience to provide excellent representation. There are plenty of average lawyers who are looking for quick answers to solve their client’s complex problems, because they don’t have the experience and knowledge to answer their own questions. Hiring an inexperienced, but well-intended lawyer, to handle your case will be no substitute for an experienced lawyer with a thorough knowledge of auto injury law, and trials and appeals. And, if you expect to collect any money from the insurance company, you had better hire a lawyer that knows insurance law, too. Without question, having no lawyer is a worse mistake than hiring an inexperienced lawyer. But since you are wisely choosing to hire a lawyer, hire a good one.
Not Deciding is a Decision regarding your Injury Claim
Last, but not least, you will sabotage your claim if you remain undecided. This often resembles “doing nothing” about your claim. The problem is that “doing nothing” is actually “doing something” after all, but not the “something” that will help your case (source: Costa Ivone, LLC). While you wait week after week, month after month, the clock is ticking on the statute of limitations on your claim, witnesses vital to your claim are not interviewed and move out of the area. Furthermore, evidence about the collision is destroyed, the police officer can’t remember the collision anymore, the time period when you are expected to seek treatment has passed, and a whole host of other negative things happen to your claim while you are making no decisions. So, as it turns out, waiting around for things to get better on their own actually worsens the situation. Many individuals, though, have difficulty taking the first step to meet with a lawyer. You’ll be glad you did.
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. To learn more about car accident injuries or other injury claims, click here or call our law office at 1-304-594-1800.
At this year’s L.A. Auto Show, carmakers highlighted safety features that focus on preventing accidents rather than merely surviving them.
Warning indicators for blind spots and rearview cameras have become common, but many manufacturers are taking the technologies a step further.
The additional features act on the safety warnings when a driver fails to do so, said Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive of online auto research firm Edmunds Inc.
“I think they are too easy to ignore,” he said of the warnings. “If your car has a whole series of these different lights flashing and buzzers, it is too much to process in a panic moment.”
Lane Departure Prevention – Cars that Self-Correct Driver Errors:
Infiniti presented one solution with its Infiniti JX, unveiled last week at the auto show. The JX boasts the world’s first backup collision intervention technology. Like existing backup sensors, the system beeps if it detects potential obstacles while the vehicle is in reverse. But now, if the driver does not respond, the system automatically brakes to prevent a collision.
“We initiated this technology in the industry,” said Kyle Bazemore, senior manager of Infiniti product communications. He said Infiniti also pioneered other proactive safety systems.
“We were the first to have lane-departure prevention — if you’re drifting out of your lane, it’ll automatically nudge you back in,” he said. “Also blind-spot intervention — if you move with something in your blind spot it also nudges you back.”
Inflatable Seat Belts and Virtual Bumper Systems:
The new Ford Explorer on display at the auto show also integrates lane-departure technology. In addition, the Explorer features inflatable seat belts — a first in the industry — designed to reduce chest and neck injuries. Other safety options include blind-spot warnings and an automatic parallel-parking system.
“In the industry, the technologies are all already there,” said Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell. “The difference is what you tell these systems to do.”
One way Cadillac’s new XTS adopted these technologies is with its virtual bumper feature.
“For example, in a dark, low-speed place, like a parking garage with columns and pillars,” Caldwell said, “if you’re about to hit something, behind you or in front of you, the virtual bumper will alert the driver and apply full braking up to 25 mph.”
The XTS also offers a collision mitigation braking system that, simply put, understands and interprets the pressure the driver applies to the brake. So if the system feels a panicked stomp, the electronic brakes will intervene and help avoid nearby objects detected by sensors placed around the car.
Increased Air Bag Protection:
The new Scion iQ, the world’s smallest four-seater, has the most airbags in the industry, according to a spokeswoman at the carmaker’s auto show exhibit. The iQadded a rear-window airbag, an industry first, totaling 11 for the compact car.
The Cadillac XTS also added an airbag between the driver and front passenger seat, giving the vehicle a total of 10 airbags.
“It’s about as many as you can add without turning it into a pillow,” Caldwell said.
Airbags aside, Volvo spokesman James Hope summed up what safety means for future cars: “It’s the whole idea of intuitive technology.”
Pedestrian, Animal, and Bicycle Detection Features:
Four U.S. Volvo models currently offer an active pedestrian detection system. The vehicle automatically brakes if the driver does not react to pedestrians detected by the radar. The car fully brakes up to 25 mph.
“What’s coming in the near future for Volvo, we’re talking 2014, is animal detection,” Hope said. “In Sweden, for example, there’s a big problem with elk and moose. The full weight of this animal coming through the windshield can kill occupants.”
The new Cadillac XTS has sensors and cameras that can also detect if cyclists or pedestrians are approaching from the side. The system alerts the driver of this side traffic by vibrating the seat cushion on the corresponding side.
What’s Next? Cars that Communicate with Each Other for Accident Prevention:
What else is next? Anwyl said there eventually would be technology that enables cars to adapt to surrounding vehicles and prevent potential collisions.
“Cars will be able to communicate so each car knows what to do,” he said. “The technology is here. It’s just a few years off.”
Volvo is among the automakers already thinking in that direction. It’s working on a concept it calls “platooning,” Hope said.
“You have the lead car, and the car behind it drives to the tune of the car ahead,” he said. “This increases efficiency and safety — cars can drive closer together safely.”
The Cadillac XTS already offers a speed-range adaptive cruise control, enabling drivers to set a following distance from the car in front of them. Caldwell said this was a useful bonus for Angelenos driving on crowded freeways in stop-and-go traffic.
“This kind of technology is hugely useful because it doesn’t require that you pay full attention,” Anwyl said. “We are right at the beginning of what I think is going to be a huge wave of these features and it’s really all based on advanced technologies. Computers, processors are all getting to the point now where they can handle a vast amount of information and turn that information around.”
“In the end, it’s about helping the driver see better,” Caldwell said. “We don’t want to take over the driver, but we do want to assist the driver.”
On March 12, 2012, a large dump truck collided with a small, blue Pontiac on I-79 near Morgantown, WV. The driver of the Pontiac was taken by ambulance to Ruby Memorial Hospital. The driver of the dump truck did not seek immediate medical attention. The cause of the accident is unknown, but compare the result of the impact in the images of the Pontiac versus the dump truck. The extreme difference in the appearance of the two vehicles after the wreck should encourage drivers to buckle up – your car will always be the loser in a collision with a heavy-weight truck.
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.
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.
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
A Rhode Island judge wanted to send a clear message to young people that he will not tolerate drunk and reckless driving in his home state. Chief Magistrate William Guglietta of the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal has handed out the harshest possible sentence to a 17-year-old after he crashed into a tree while DUI last October. The driver and three teenage passengers were fortunate to escape with their lives, but a 16-year-old male passenger was in a coma for weeks following the accident. All four teens had been drinking alcohol at a party just before the wreck.
The judge poured over photos of the wreckage before handing out the sentence that the driver of the car is banned from driving in the State of Rhode Island for the rest of his life. Judge Gugietta told news station KABC, “If you are going to drive dangerously in Rhode Island and you’re a young person, this court is going to respond accordingly. The law in this case allows this court to impose that penalty. If they think more stringent penalties are important for drunk driving, then I’m assuming at some point in time, those issues will be raised with the legislature.”
In addition to the DUI charge, the 17-year-old driver pled no contest to speeding, violating seat belt laws, and illegal passing. Charges concerning violation of a graduated driver’s license, of having more passengers than allowed, being out past curfew, leaving the lane of travel, and failure to maintain control of the vehicle were dropped.