Category Archives: Multi-vehicle Accidents

I Was a Passenger in a Car Accident, Can I Sue The Driver?

This is a common question for many car accident victims. The answer, in West Virginia anyways, is yes – if the driver was negligent. The driver of the car owes a duty to any passengers in the vehicle, a duty not to drive negligently or recklessly. If the driver breaches that duty and ends up crashing the vehicle, either in a single vehicle accident or with another car, then he or she is liable to any passengers, as well as occupants of the other vehicle. This means that the driver’s insurance will be liable for any personal injuries sustained up to the policy limits.

There are other issue however, that need to be examined thoroughly by a West Virginia car accident attorney, such as: are there any other insurance polices that could provide coverage, such as the passenger’s vehicle insurance or underinsured driver’s coverage? Another concern is that if there have been several people injured, there may be insufficient coverage for all of the injured persons. Each situation must be examined individually and will bring unique issues, all of which should be quickly addressed by a West Virginia car accident lawyer.

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

Hearse Leading Funeral Procession Involved in Head-on Collision in Beckley – Creates Unique Car Accident Law Issues

From the Register-Herald today:


A hearse from Ritchie & Johnson Funeral Parlor leading a funeral cortege was involved in a head-on collision Monday shortly after noon.
Rick Barbero / Register-Herald Photographer

A hearse leading a funeral cortege was involved in a head-on collision Monday shortly after noon, according to the Beckley Police Department.

Police said the Ritchie & Johnson Funeral Parlor hearse was traveling northbound around the 900 block of South Kana-wha Street when it was hit by a 1993 Chevrolet Cavalier driven by Amanda Bonds. Police did not release her age and hometown.

Police said Bonds was traveling south when her vehicle struck a 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche on its driver’s side. Bonds’ vehicle continued south before crossing the center line and hitting the hearse head-on.

The funeral procession was held up for about 30 minutes while the casket carrying the deceased was transferred to another hearse. All of the funeral procession vehicles were using headlights and emergency flashers en route to the cemetery, funeral home officials said.

Police said the accident investigation is ongoing, but citations were pending.

This is an awful situation to have a hearse involved in a head-on collision while actually leading a funeral procession. To those of us who are West Virginia car accident lawyers, this situation creates some extremely unique car accident law issues. For instance, citations are “pending,” but who is going to get cited? There will be several different insurance companies involved, as well as workers compensation. Liability will have to be determined between the three drivers involved. Lastly, given that the hearse was itself struck, there could potentially be some damages claimed by the family of the deceased occupant of the hearse, depending on the circumstances.

Read the full article here.

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

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.

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.

Yet Another Chain-Reaction Crash on I-77

From the Bluefield Daily Telegraph:

Eight vehicles involved in chain-reaction crash on I-77


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — A chain-reaction crash Thursday involving three tractor-trailers and other vehicles closed a section of Interstate 77 north of the East River Mountain Tunnel.

The West Virginia State Police, units of the Green Valley-Glenwood and East River volunteer fire departments, and the Bluefield Rescue Squad were dispatched at approximately 6 p.m. after Mercer County Emergency 911 received reports of a wreck in I-77’s northbound lanes two miles north of the tunnel.

A total of eight vehicles, including the trucks, were in the crash, said Trooper M.S. Horton of the West Virginia State Police detachment in Welch. One person was transported to Princeton Community Hospital, but Horton said he did know the extent of that person’s injuries.

Horton was still investigating the cause of the wreck at press time and could not be reached for additional comment. Northbound lanes were still closed as of 8:30 p.m. According to a Virginia State Police dispatcher in Wytheville, Va., northbound motorists traveling for the Easter holiday were backed up for several miles.

At first there were concerns that one of the wrecked trucks was carrying a hazardous chemical. Lt. Scott Cornwell of the Green Valley-Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department said a truck hauling a chemical was at the scene, but it was not involved in the crash.

Both northbound lanes of I-77 were closed, and the southbound lanes were blocked for 15 minutes to allow emergency units to reach the crash scene, Cornwell said.

Officers with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department also provided assistance at the wreck site.

— Contact Greg Jordan at

Chair Reaction Pile-Up on I-64

From the Charleston Gazette:

Chain reaction pile-up on I-64



Cars backed up for miles in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 64 after a pileup on the bridge between the Nitro and St. Albans exits of I-64.

After the initial accident, more cars were involved in a chain reaction accident as they tried to stop, said Nitro Fire Capt. Shawn Alderman. About 15 cars were involved and one person was taken to Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital, he said.

A red car was smashed against the side of the bridge by a trailer carrying several vehicles. It took rescue workers about 15 minutes to pry open the vehicle and remove the man inside, said Nitro Fire Capt. Shawn Alderman.

“I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a whole lot of car carrier coming at me,” said David Haden, who narrowly avoided being struck by the vehicle. “There was already a wreck ahead of me and I pulled over and then saw the red car get clipped.”
The accident tied up the eastbound lanes of Interstate 64 for about two hours and the westbound lanes for about an hour, he said.

Accident in Greenbrier County


Accident In Greenbrier County

Car clips on the side and stalls in Fairlea.

Story by Adam Baker

FAIRLEA- — One car flipped on its side and stalled traffic during the lunch hour in Greenbrier County.
The wreck happened just before 1 p.m. on northbound 219.

Two cars crashed and one flipped over. Three people were involved in the wreck. No one was hurt.

Traffic was backed up while crews worked the scene. One lane of traffic was able to move during the wreck.
No word on what caused it.

Update in Fayette County Tanker Truck Collision

From the Beckley Register-Herald:

Wreck victim identified as Fayette woman

Register-Herald Reporter

A Fayette County woman has been identified as one of two people killed in a collision involving a vehicle and a tanker truck, authorities in Nicholas County said.

However, the identity of the second victim in the Saturday’s crash has yet to be confirmed.

Vickie Akers, 51, of 56 Riverview Drive, Charlton Heights, was killed in the crash, the sheriff’s office said. She was a passenger in a 1995 Jeep Wrangler. The male driver was also killed, but Chief Deputy Wayne Plummer said the man’s identity has not been officially confirmed by the state medical examiner’s office.

The accident occurred around 3:30 a.m. on W.Va. 39 in Canvas. Apparently, the driver of the Wrangler veered left of center and struck the tanker truck head-on, the sheriff’s office said.

The Wrangler reportedly caught fire after impact, according to the Nicholas Emergency Operations Center.

The tanker truck’s driver, 63-year-old Peery M. Angles Jr., of Roanoke, Va., was not injured.

The accident remains under investigation.

— Amelia A. Pridemore

Two Killed in Goldtown I-77 Crash

Note: Here you have two Home Depot employees traveling in an SUV, they lose control, possibly due to ice, and collide with a UPS tractor trailer. This case presents some complex issues. The article doesn’t actually say who was killed, but I am assuming it was the two Home Depot employees. Even assuming the driver of the SUV was negligent, which is an issue because the roads were icy, there are some potentially complex issues: Two sets of employees, both large companies. One of the vehicles was a UPS truck, the other was an SUV. Was the SUV owned by Hope Depot, or was it the private vehicle of the driver? Could the driver – and hence his private insurance policy – be liable? Were the Home Depot employees actually acting in the course of business? Does workers compensation immunity apply? Was the UPS driver negligent? Was the UPS driver injured? – John H. Bryan, West Virginia car accident attorney.

From today’s Charleston Gazette:

Two killed in Goldtown I-77 crash

By Staff, wire reports

Two people were killed Wednesday morning when a tractor-trailer struck the SUV they were traveling in on Interstate 77 near Goldtown, said B.W. DeWees, chief deputy for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.

Michael D. Ferrier, 39, of Vincent, Ohio, and Amanda Diane Vaughan, 23, of Vienna, who were both Home Depot employees, were traveling from the Parkersburg store to the Charleston store, he said.

The accident happened around 7:30 a.m., DeWees said.

“As the SUV was passing a UPS tractor-trailer, the SUV ran off the road into the median, lost control, came back up into the roadway in front of the tractor-trailer,” he said. “The tractor-trailer was unable to stop and struck the vehicle.”

Ferrier was driving, and no other vehicles were involved in the accident, he said.

The snowy conditions may have contributed to the accident, DeWees said.

Also Wednesday, four people died in Jefferson County after the van they were in collided with a tractor-trailer on U.S. 340 near Harpers Ferry.

Sgt. Robert Sell with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department said the driver of the westbound van lost control due to icy conditions and slid into the eastbound lane, colliding head-on with the truck at about 6:40 a.m.

The three passengers in the van were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m., said Sell.

The names of the victims weren’t immediately available.

Four Vehicle Accident in Oak Hill Leads to More Problems Due to Reckless and Indifferent Drivers

Note: This article contains a great description of how many accidents and injuries are caused merely by subsequent cars arriving to the scene of an accident and either gawking at the accident scene, or driving recklessly around the accident scene. This endangers accident victims, emergency personnel, and innocent motorists who are driving properly. These reckless and indifferent motorists are breaking traffic laws when they commit these acts and they will easily be held liable for any injuries they inflict – especially since emergency personnel witnesses trying to save lives make great witnesses in any subsequent civil case. – John H. Bryan, West Virginia car accident attorney.

From the Beckley Register-Herald:

Police: Driver impatience can lead to more accidents

Amelia A. Pridemore
Register-Herald Reporter

Oak Hill police handled a four-vehicle accident last Thursday afternoon, but while the wrecked cars were cleared from the scene, far worse damage from a resulting traffic jam remained on U.S. 19.

After the “chain-reaction,” multi-vehicle rear-end crash at the Greentown Road exit, about 30 to 40 motorists plowed across the grassy, muddy U.S. 19 median to get into the cleared northbound lanes, Lt. C.N. Williams said. Reportedly, at least one driver wound up stuck. Tire tracks and mud were found in the median throughout the approximately one-mile backup site.

Other drivers resorted to driving backward on entrance ramps, Williams said.

Traffic jams often result from vehicle accidents, but police say impatient motorists often make matters worse. Their extreme methods of trying to find a way out of traffic sometimes cause even more accidents, and those drivers put themselves, other motorists and emergency responders at risk.

Patrolman 1st Class C.A. Young said traffic jams ensue after almost every car accident and drivers automatically want to find a way out. That happens both on U.S. 19 and city streets.

Driving through the U.S. 19 median, he said, is especially dangerous because of the 55 mph speed limit in the city limits.

“It takes time to get turned around, get up to speed and not get hit,” he said.

Any time U.S. 19 is partly or totally closed, an Oak Hill officer besides the one investigating the accident will be sent to the scene to monitor the traffic for risky motorist behavior, Young said. The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department will often back them up. But even having police officers in fully marked cruisers at the scene does not stop some drivers.

“The drivers don’t seem to pay attention to us more than they do anyone else,” Young said.

Officers responding to wrecks and other calls on U.S. 19 are often put at risk, Young said. A relatively new state law requires motorists to move into the left lane or sharply decrease speed if a police officer is stopped off the roadway. Despite that, officers find themselves nearly struck by vehicles often.

“On 19, we can be doing a traffic stop, wreck or assisting a disabled motorist,” Young said. “Officers are nearly hit.

“We will stop and see if someone needs help, and cars just fly past us.”

U.S. 19 is not the only roadway where officers see such problems. State Police Trooper 1st Class R.T. Stinson said drivers on the West Virginia Turnpike will also go to extreme and illegal methods of avoiding traffic jams. Besides driving through medians and the wrong way on ramps, people will often drive through emergency lanes, he noted.

“Let emergency workers do their jobs,” he said. “Eventually, traffic will clear enough for one lane to reopen and traffic will get moving.”

Stinson estimated subsequent accidents occur about 50 percent of the time. From his experience, a lot of the drivers are simply not paying attention.

“They’re on their cell phones, eating — then they come into slower traffic from an accident and crash into the back of a car,” Stinson said. “One woman was driving with her knees, putting her makeup on.”

Sometimes, gawking causes accidents, he said. He was once helping a motorist whose vehicle broke down. Someone was rubber-necking and caused a multi-vehicle rear-end crash.

Like Young, Stinson said turnpike troopers are often nearly struck while responding to accidents and other calls, even though the Parkways Authority has posted several signs reminding motorists of the “move-over” law.

“We’ve almost been hit several times while doing our jobs out here,” he said.

Both Young and Stinson said driving in medians, U-turns, going the wrong way on exit ramps and driving in emergency lanes are illegal, and motorists can be cited. Young noted someone can be charged with destruction of state property for damaging a median.

But when an officer is tied up with an accident investigation, enforcement becomes difficult, especially when so many drivers are breaking the law at the same time, according to both.

Stinson said unless the actions of other motorists are clearly more life-threatening than the accident, an officer must focus on the investigation. He likened the situation to playing in a basketball game.

“The crowd is cheering, but you’re having to focus on that foul shot,” he said. “That’s what a traffic investigation is like. You have to concentrate and keep everyone safe as possible. You don’t catch everyone.”