Monthly Archives: April 2008

3-Vehicle Wreck in Beckley Sends Five People to Hospital

from the Register-Herald today:

On April 29, a man had just dropped off one of his children at Beckley Elementary School and was traveling south on Eisenhower Drive (U.S. 19) when the driver of a pickup truck lost control, entered the center lane and struck the man’s Jeep.

The Jeep was pushed into the northbound lane and collided with a third vehicle head-on. After the head-on collision, the Jeep left the roadway, crashed through a fence and came to rest on the property at 503 Eisenhower.

A witness said he saw the Jeep cross Wilkes Road, smash through a fence and travel through the yard of a home, accelerating at a high speed, and that when it came to rest, the wheels were still spinning.

Fortunately, a guardrail stopped the vehicle from going into a nearby creek. Guardrails can be either a blessing or a curse depending on the particular circumstances. In this case they were apparently a blessing, as there were two young girls in the vehicle and the driver was left unconscious.

Read the full article here.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

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Truck Accident Resource for Personal Injury Victims and Lawyers in West Virginia

As a West Virginia injury lawyer handling truck accidents, I have found the web site published by the Truck Safety Coalition, which can be found here, as extremely helpful. The organization is a partnership between The Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation, and Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T). The Truck Safety Coalition is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating the public, policy-makers and media about truck safety issues.

Recently, the Truck Safety Coalition issued a report card based on truck accidents that have occurred throughout the U.S., ranking the worst truck accident states. The Truck Safety Coalition looked at the number of truck accident deaths that occurred for every 100,000 people. Over 114,000 people were injured in truck accidents in 2005, and 5,200 people were killed in truck accidents, making the average number of truck accidents with fatalities 1.76 deaths for every 100,000 people.

West Virginia ranked as one of the 10 states with the highest average of truck accident deaths per population. Others included Kentucky, Kansas and South Carolina.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

Should You Contact an Attorney After a Car Accident in WV?

Should you contact an attorney after a car accident in West Virginia?

The short answer is, that it depends. If the car wreck was minor and there obviously have not been any injuries, then it may not be necessary to contact a car accident lawyer in West Virginia. However, if you or anyone you care about has been injured in the car accident, especially if there is any permanent injury, or significant time is lost from work or school or household duties, then you’ll want to see a lawyer about possibly representing you in a claim against anyone else who may be responsible for your injuries. However, even if you’re not injured, don’t entirely rule it out as the facts and circumstances surrounding car accidents are always different.

Contacting an attorney who deals with personal injury (especially relating to auto accidents) can provide you with the peace of mind that no stone gets left unturned. It is especially important to contact an car accident lawyer immediately if any of the following events have occurred:

– An injury has occurred where there has been serious injury (broken bones / hospitalization) or where injuries are likely to be permanent (paralysis);
– A death has resulted from the accident;
– Fault is clearly an issue;
– Other parties were involved such as pedestrians or other autos;
– The accident occurred in a construction area;
– A police report does not accurately describe the accident and puts you at fault;
– Important technical, legal or medical issues are involved;
– The limits of your liability insurance are low,
– You have no insurance, or your insurance company suggests that you did not pay your premium.
– Your insurer starts “acting funny.”
– Your insurer involves its own attorney

Other reasons to speak with a West Virginia car accident lawyer include:

– Seeking advice on the settlement value of a claim (while not an exact science, attorneys may be able to provide best and worse case scenarios);
– Unsure if other insurance (homeowners, travel, etc.) may be available;
– Fault may be an issue;
– Determining whether your insurer may be acting in bad faith (not looking out for your best interests);
– Seeking information on how to handle negotiations with an insurer;
– You don’t know your rights;
– Confused over the terms of your policy;
– Needing an expert to review confusing paperwork or forms.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

Pedestrian Hit by Truck on WV Turnpike – Police Urge Against Pedestrians on Interstate

A 90 year-old man was hit by a UPS tractor trailer several days ago after stopping his car on the side of the road, walking across the turnpike near Beckley to ask directions from construction workers, and then trying to walk back across.

The driver of the UPS truck was not cited. Reportedly, he tried to stop and sounded his air horns and attempted to steer the truck away from the pedestrian.

State Police Cpl. David Skala noted that pedestrian traffic on interstate highways is not allowed. He urged people to never even walk on an interstate highway’s shoulder and especially warned them not to set foot in the traffic lanes. Quite often, drivers will veer into the shoulder, striking motorists pulled over. Police officers conducting traffic stops have also been killed by such drivers.

“That’s why you see signs on interstates that say, ‘No pedestrians, bicycles, horses or mopeds,’” Skala said.

While pulling onto the shoulder in an emergency is OK, troopers have often found people walking alongside the turnpike. Some are tending to disabled vehicles, and others are hitchhiking. Skala said. Those lost on an interstate should wait until they find the nearest exit. Then they should call for help on a cell phone.

You can read the full article from the Register-Herald here.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

Can a Passenger Recover Damages for Accident Injuries Caused by the Driver in WV?

Can a passenger recover damages for accident injuries caused by the driver in the State of West Virginia?

Yes, in West Virginia, if the driver of the vehicle is guilty of ordinary negligence, then passengers in the vehicle can recover damages from the insurance policy covering the vehicle. It is important to note however, that in situations where alcohol is involved, the passenger may be guilty of comparative negligence in causing his or her own injuries by getting into the car in the first place if there is a resulting alcohol-related car wreck. Additionally, passengers can be liable to other victims of the car wreck under certain circumstances if they allowed or encouraged the driver to drive impaired. See my earlier posts regarding alcohol and passengers.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

Importance of Seat Belts in WV Car Accident Law

West Virginia, like almost every other state, has a mandatory seat belt law. Thus, there is a limited “seat belt defense” which means if you are injured in a car crash while not wearing a seat belt, and the injury was caused or made worse due to the lack of a seat belt, the amount of damages you can collect may be reduced.

In other words, you are “comparatively negligent” and therefore are partially responsible for causing your own injuries, even if you were not responsible for the accident itself. It is important to consult an experienced auto accident attorney for advice regarding your particular situation.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

Comparative Negligence, Proximate Cause, and Intervening Causes in WV Car Accident Law

What is the importance of “comparative negligence”, “proximate cause”, and “intervening causes” in West Virginia Car Accident Law?

“Comparative negligence” comes into play when both parties have failed to act reasonably – for example, when someone speeding in dense fog hits another car that had no headlights on. In a situation where each party has some degree of negligence in causing an accident, the responsibility to the other person is reduced by one’s own degree of negligence. In the example above, the driver going too fast in the fog may be 60% negligent and bear 60% of the liability, while the driver without headlights may bear 40% of the negligence and be 40% liable.

“Proximate cause” is an act which sets off a natural and continuous sequence of events that produces injury. Without the act, no injury would have resulted. Any time you act, you start a series of natural and continuous events to occur (simple cause and effect, like when you touch the surface of still water and ripples are created). Responsibility for an injury lies with the negligent act that produced the injury. For example, suppose you throw a ball that rolls down a hill; after the ball rolls down the hill, a stranger picks it up and throws it through a window, causing the glass to shatter; the glass shards hit a woman, cutting her arm. In this example, although you caused the ball’s initial movement, your act is not the proximate cause of the injury to the woman sitting next to the window. The stranger’s act is the proximate cause of her injury, and he should be the one to pay for her medical treatment.

An “intervening cause” alters the natural and continuous series of events that follows. When an intervening cause is present, the natural chain of events has been changed due to the subsequent act of another, and the first actor may be relieved of responsibility for an injury. In the example above, the act of the stranger picking up the ball and throwing it through the window is an intervening cause which relieves you from the responsibility for injury which may have occurred as a result of your act. The responsibility shifts, and the stranger’s act becomes the proximate cause of her injury.

To bear responsibility for injury to others in a car accident, your negligent action (or failure to act) must be the proximate cause of the injury, without any intervening causes interrupting the natural sequence of events.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.