In West Virginia, an estimated 1,000 fatal and non-fatal truck accidents occur yearly. Truck accidents can cause some of the most severe accidents because of the weight of a fully loaded truck. As a result of the seriousness of potential accidents and because the trucks travel through multiple states, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates all aspects of trucking, from weight to safety.
Liability For Fatal Car Accidents
Fatal truck accidents can be highly complex because there might be multiple parties involved in some cases. For example, suppose a truck had a malfunction that was a manufacturing defect. In that case, the following people could be parties to the case – the driver, the insurance company, the manufacturer, the employer, and the family members who lost someone because of the accident. The parties can be found individually liable or jointly liable, depending on the circumstances of the case. To fully understand every party that should and could be included in a case, contact one of our experienced attorneys to review the facts of the case. Reach out to us at Salango Law, PLLC today by calling us at (304) 342-0512 or filling out a form online.
There are many reasons that a truck driver could be found individually negligent, including but not limited to failing to do all of the required checks, overworking, driving while distracted, or speeding. In addition, truck drivers are on the road a lot, so federal law limits the amount of time they can work in a day and even within a week to ensure they are getting sufficient rest so that they are less likely to cause accidents. Failing to follow federal laws can result in criminal charges for the driver and the employer of the driver.
Driving fatigue is extremely dangerous and can cause severe accidents because a driver can lose control of an 80,000-pound vehicle. As a result, it is illegal for a driver to work more than 11 continuous hours in a 14-work day. After reaching the time limit, a truck driver must take a 10-hour break before they can start driving again. A driver also can only work up to 77 hours in seven days. However, if a driver takes 2.5 days off, their work week will begin anew. Additionally, a driver must take at least a 30-minute break for every eight hours drive. The 30 minutes must be consecutive.
An employer is also responsible for ensuring that employees follow federal laws concerning hours and safety. For example, liability can arise when a driver fails to take their breaks or is known for failing to follow safety procedures, and the company fails to reprimand them. They can also be liable for any negligence of their driver. Additionally, a company can be responsible for failing to properly maintain their vehicles or other things that would fall under their purview.
An employer and the driver can be responsible for any damages caused in a fatal accident. In addition, a truck manufacturer who puts a defective part in a truck that, in turn, causes an accident can be liable.
Why Hire An Attorney For A Fatal Truck Accident?
Negotiating with the insurance company alone or allowing the insurance company to defend you in a case may be tempting, but hiring an attorney can help. Generally, insurance companies will defend someone only if the interests line up. Once a party’s interests no longer align with the insurance company, they will be less vigorous in defending your best interests. On the other hand, maintaining your own representation will ensure your best interests are defended.
Insurance Companies Negotiating
Insurance companies are usually good at negotiating a settlement. They will likely be trying to lowball any offer. Insurance companies run on a bottom line, sometimes attempting to pay as little as possible and even trying to get out of liability altogether.
Truck Accidents Are Complex
Truck accidents can involve state and federal law making a truck accident more complex than a regular car accident. For example, under state law, a truck driver who causes an accident because they were driving more hours than they were allowed in a given day or week can be charged with vehicular manslaughter and violate federal law. Therefore, hiring an attorney who understands West Virginia’s fatal truck accident laws can help protect your interests.
Investigating a truck accident requires understanding the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration guidelines. Hire a knowledgeable attorney today.
Frequently Asked Questions About Trucking Accidents
Do Truck Drivers Have To Submit To Drug And Alcohol Testing?
Truck drivers are required to submit tests before they are hired and are required to be randomly tested throughout their careers. A trucking company failing to perform random tests on its drivers can result in liability if intoxication is the cause of an accident. Additionally, refusing to submit to a drug test requires that the driver be barred from driving.
What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Filing A Fatal Truck Accident Claim?
The statute of limitations for filing a fatal truck accident case in West Virginia is two years. If the lawsuit is filed with a court after the two years have elapsed, the court can dismiss it per the statute of limitations. However, there are a variety of reasons that a statute of limitations can be tolled, meaning it is paused. When we take your case, we can help you explore the options related to the statute of limitations. Even if you believe you missed the deadline, you can pursue a case in some circumstances. Your lawyer can review the case and applicable law to see if extenuating circumstances have extended the time limit on your case.
Hiring A Personal Injury Attorney
With decades of experience, our injury attorneys in Charleston are available to review the facts of your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation at Salango Law, PLLC. Call us at (304) 342-0512 or contact us online. Armed with an understanding of the law and expertise in navigating the legal system, we can advocate for you.