West Virginia Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyer

As the trucking industry expands, the number of large trucks on our roadways has gone up significantly. A fully loaded commercial truck can weigh up to eighty thousand pounds. These huge machines are controlled by drivers who are often distracted or exhausted from trying to meet increasingly difficult delivery schedules. Even a minor collision with a large tractor trailer can be deadly for those in a smaller vehicle. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute estimates that one out of every eight traffic fatalities involves a truck.

Truck Crash in West VirginiaIf you’ve been in a collision with a truck, then you know the trauma of hitting something of that magnitude. Unfortunately, most insurance claims filed against trucking companies meet with the same resistance. Insurance claims adjusters from a trucking company often go directly to the accident site to talk to victims and try to manipulate evidence. The trucking company will have an entire army of lawyers in the courtroom, doing everything they possibly can to prevent you from getting the compensation you so desperately need. After all, any claim they have to pay will go on their permanent commercial record, and they have to look out for their own bottom line. In order to get the money you need for medical bills and the like, you will need the help of a team of very skillful truck accident lawyers. At Colombo Law our West Virginia Tractor Trailer accident attorneys are committed to helping accident victims receive the compensation they deserve.

A Respected West Virginia Tractor Trailer Accident Law Firm

As one of the leading personal injury law firms in the state of West Virginia, we have successfully handled numerous Tractor Trailer accident cases.

Our firm works with some of the leading experts in the fields of medicine, accident reconstruction, finance, and economics to help us determine equitable compensation for current, as well as future, physical, financial, and emotional injuries.

Skilled Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyers

At Colombo Law our attorneys understand how to effectively demonstrate the consequences of injuries caused by tractor trailer accidents. Our ability to combine compassionate legal services with aggressive legal representation, allows us to maximize the compensation received by our clients involved in West Virginia tractor trailer accidents.

A large truck or tractor-trailer accident can be devastating and what to do next can be confusing. The truck accident attorneys at Colombo Law have experience handling lawsuits for clients who have been seriously injured in accidents involving large trucks. Call us for a free consultation at 304-599-4229.

Prompt investigation of the accident is essential to the successful prosecution of a truck accident case. The sooner you engage the tractor-trailer accident attorneys at Colombo Law to represent you, the sooner we can act to secure evidence while it is still fresh. Rain, wind, ice and snow can cause the disappearance of the physical evidence like skid marks, accident debris, impact marks on the road surface, as well as oil, gas, and radiator fluid stains. Other critical evidence involving the truck itself can be lost or destroyed. Preservation of important date like driver’s logs, alcohol and drug testing along with eyewitness testimony may also be vital to your case. If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in an accident involving a large truck, contact us now.

Telling Your Story

Serious, catastrophic accidents change lives forever. At Colombo Law, our tractor trailer accident lawyers tell our client’s story, providing jurors with “before” and “after” pictures, producing “day-in-the-life” videos if necessary. We make sure the court understands how you and your family have been affected by the tragedy of your accident. Our office refuses to let our client’s future fall victim to an insurance company’s bottom line — we explain what you’ve suffered, what you’ve lost as a result, and demand fair compensation.

vehicles stuck in traffic after an accident involving a semi-truck

West Virginia Truck Accident Facts and Statistics

Number of Fatal Truck Accidents in West Virginia: 40
Number of Truck Accident Fatalities in West Virginia: 43
Percentage of Fatal Accidents Involving Large Trucks in West Virginia: 11.3%
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts: Large Trucks (2019)

Yearly crash statistics are drawn from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). FARS also produces a State Traffic Safety Information Report that compiles accident fatality data over a 5-year period.

FARS identifies the following West Virginia counties as the ones with the highest rate of truck accident fatalities over the last 5 years:

  1. Kanawha County: 18
  2. Mercer County: 14
  3. Monongalia County: 14
  4. Harrison County: 11
  5. Berkeley County: 10
  6. Raleigh County: 9
  7. Cabell County: 8
  8. Putnam County: 8
  9. Logan County: 7
  10. Ohio County: 6
  11. Wayne County: 6

It should come as no surprise that counties with major population centers such as Charleston, Huntington, Morgantown, and Wheeling are among the areas with the highest number of trucking accidents. However, 18-wheelers can be found moving cargo throughout West Virginia.

The majority of West Virginia is rural. Whether you live in the city or the country, these statistics show that it is important to exercise caution around big trucks no matter where you are.

Do I Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?

Generally speaking, it is in your best interest to hire a truck accident lawyer after a big rig crash in West Virginia. There are many reasons why you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible if you or a loved one suffered harm in a collision with an 18-wheeler:

A Truck Accident Lawyer Can Collect Evidence on Your Behalf

Strong evidence is essential for prevailing in any truck accident claim. Unfortunately, it is often impossible for the victims of trucking accidents to start gathering evidence in the aftermath of a crash.

If you are transported to the emergency room immediately following a truck accident, you will not be able to take photos, exchange information with other drivers, or take other steps that can help you start building your claim. A trucking accident attorney can handle these steps for you while you focus on your recovery.

Truck Accident Claims Involve Substantial Damages

Victims of trucking accidents often sustain serious injuries. Fatalities are commonplace in these crashes as well, especially for the occupants of passenger vehicles.

Claims involving serious injuries and wrongful death involve substantial damages. Without an attorney, it is difficult for victims and their loved ones to accurately calculate how much compensation they may be entitled to after a truck accident.

Truck Accident Liability Is Complicated

Liability is a complex issue in any truck accident claim. The truck driver may have directly caused the accident, but he is likely not the only one responsible for the injuries and damages sustained in a trucking accident.

It is very important to identify all of the liable parties in order to recover the full compensation you deserve. A knowledgeable West Virginia truck accident lawyer will fully investigate the crash and determine who is responsible.

The Insurance Company Will Low-Ball You

Most trucking accident claims involve multiple insurance companies. However, their goal is always the same: Pay you as little as possible.

Further Reading: Handling the Insurance Company in Semi-Truck Accident Claims

If you receive a truck accident settlement offer, you can expect that it will be for less than your claim is worth. A West Virginia trucking accident attorney can negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf.

Typically, claimants who hire a lawyer get significantly higher settlements than those who try to represent themselves. At Colombo Law, we have a 99% Win Rate.

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Your Truck Accident Case May Need to Go to Trial

For most people, going to court is a daunting prospect. Although most truck accident claims settle out of court, there is a possibility that your case will need to be resolved at trial.

Further Reading: Do Semi-Truck Accidents Go to Trial?

In this situation, you need a truck accident attorney to represent you. Trucking and insurance company lawyers are highly skilled and they will mount a strong defense in court. Without a truck accident lawyer on your side, it is practically impossible to obtain a favorable result.

overturned tractor-trailer on a road

How Are Truck Accident Claims Different from Car Accident Claims?

You might assume that all motor vehicle accidents are the same. However, crashes involving large trucks involve a number of distinct issues that make them much more challenging than a “typical” car accident case.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a collision with an 18-wheeler, it is important to know the following:

Truck Accident Injuries Tend to Be More Serious

Motorists should never underestimate the vast difference in size between their car and a big rig truck. When a tractor-trailer crashes into a smaller vehicle, the outcome is generally catastrophic.

The likelihood of serious injuries is high in trucking accidents. Serious injuries involve more complex (and more expensive) medical treatment, in addition to having a more significant and longer-term (if not permanent) impact on victims’ lives. As a result, truck accident litigation tends to be more complicated than what is typically seen after other types of auto accidents.

The Truck Driver Is Likely Not the Only One at Fault

Most car accidents occur because one or more drivers are careless behind the wheel. Although a truck driver’s negligence may be the direct cause of the crash, a number of additional factors might have played a role as well.

Trucking accidents often involve multiple liable parties, including:

  • The trucking company
  • The owner of the truck and/or the trailer
  • Freight and shipping companies
  • Manufacturers of semi-trucks and their components
  • Third-party mechanics and service providers

Comprehensive investigation is necessary to determine what and who led to the crash. If multiple factors cause the truck accident, multiple parties can be held liable for your losses.

The Evidence in Truck Accident Claims Tends to Be More Complicated

Much more evidence is typically required to obtain a favorable outcome in a truck accident claim. What’s more, the evidence in question is often complex.

Evidence a truck accident lawyer may need to win your case includes:

  • The truck driver’s logbooks
  • Employment records held by the trucking company
  • Inspection reports for the truck and the trailer
  • Bills of lading and other documents showing what the truck was hauling
  • Weigh station reports
  • Electronic data from the truck’s black box
  • The driver’s cell phone records

All of these materials are owned and controlled by the trucking company and other adverse parties. Our experienced West Virginia truck accident attorneys know how to build a strong claim on your behalf, and we act quickly to preserve all of the important evidence.

Trucking Accident Investigations Are Much More Involved

Photos, eyewitness testimony, and information from the police report may be enough to establish that another driver was at fault for a car accident. With a truck accident, however, the investigation tends to be much more complicated.

First, multiple agencies may be involved in investigating the truck accident. This could range from the local police department to federal authorities like the National Transportation Safety Board. Your trucking accident lawyer needs to know how these agencies investigate the crash and how to read the reports generated by the investigation.

Second, federal regulations govern the trucking industry. To prove negligence in your case, your truck accident lawyer must have an in-depth understanding of the relevant regulations and how the trucking company and other parties broke the rules.

Finally, as we mentioned above, a host of documentary, physical, and electronic evidence may be necessary to prove fault and liability in your truck accident claim. The trucking accident attorney you choose must be able to compile and review all of the evidence effectively and consult the appropriate experts to make your case.

Trucking Accident Damages Are Often Substantial

If a motor vehicle accident of any kind results in serious injury or wrongful death, victims and their families may be entitled to significant compensation. However, the high rate of severe injuries and fatalities in semi-truck accidents means that these cases are worth more on average than other types of accident claims.

You may be entitled to compensation for the following losses after a trucking accident:

  • Medical expenses
  • The cost of future medical care, rehabilitation, and therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Property damage
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Disability
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Another factor that sets truck accident claims apart from other types of litigation involving vehicle accidents is the insurance coverage available. Part 387 of the Code of Federal Regulations mandates that commercial carriers purchase at least $750,000 in liability insurance. This is much higher than the insurance requirements for non-commercial drivers.

Such a policy may cover your damages from the truck accident, but it also might not be enough. The West Virginia trucking accident attorneys at Colombo Law will assess the available insurance coverage and explore all options for maximizing your recovery.

What Are the Most Common Truck Accident Injuries?

Victims of trucking accidents can suffer any number of different injuries. Some of the most common injuries our lawyers see in truck accident claims include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Injuries to the head and face
  • Neck injuries
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Back injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Broken bones
  • Internal bleeding
  • Burn injuries
  • Loss of a limb

Some of these injuries are immediately apparent. In other cases, however, the severity might not be evident until time has passed.

If you have been involved in a trucking accident, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible. You do not want to suffer a medical emergency down the road, nor do you want the defendant(s) in your truck accident claim to cite your failure to get treatment as proof that your injuries are less serious than you say.

tanker truck speeding in work zone

What Causes Most Truck Accidents?

Multiple issues can lead to accidents involving big rigs. The West Virginia truck accident attorneys at Colombo Law have the experience and resources to determine how the crash occurred and who is at fault.

Speeding

Excess speed is the #1 cause of trucking accidents. Whether the truck driver exceeds the speed limit or drives too fast for conditions, crashes with serious ramifications can occur.

Distracted Driving

The trucking industry is not immune from the rash of distracted driving accidents happening across the country. Part 392, Subpart H of the Code of Federal Regulations prohibits truck drivers from using handheld mobile devices while operating a commercial vehicle. However, texting, answering and making phone calls, and other prohibited acts are commonplace and often lead to accidents.

Of course, cell phone use is not the only distraction that takes truck drivers’ attention away from the road. Eating, drinking, daydreaming, smoking, and other activities can all cause commercial drivers to become distracted and crash into one or more vehicles.

Truck Driver Fatigue

Commercial truck drivers are subject to tight deadlines when hauling cargo. Truck drivers and their employers often put being on time ahead of safety. As a result, many trucking accidents occur because fatigued drivers lose focus, make errors in judgment, and even fall asleep behind the wheel.

Driving Under the Influence

The Code of Federal Regulations § 392.5 prohibits commercial drivers from using alcohol within 4 hours of going on duty. And yet, many truck drivers have alcohol in their system when they are tested after a road accident.

Further Reading: What to Do After a Drunk Driving Accident

Substance abuse resulting in impairment is not limited to alcohol. Both prescription drugs and illegal narcotics can make a truck driver unfit to operate a big rig. If they choose to drive under the influence, the risk of a truck accident increases dramatically.

Failure to Yield the Right of Way

Semi-trucks have large blind spots where smaller vehicles are essentially invisible. Although motorists need to exercise caution to stay out of these “no zones,” it is also the responsibility of truck drivers to be aware of vehicles in the vicinity that they might not be able to see.

Further Reading: Are Semi-Trucks Dangerous?

Accidents involving the truck’s “no zones” commonly occur when commercial drivers change lanes, merge into traffic, or execute a turn. Insufficient caution on the truck driver’s part may violate another driver’s right of way, potentially leading to a collision.

Mechanical Failure

The malfunction of a critical part or component can cause any vehicle to crash. When the vehicle in question is a 40-ton tractor-trailer, the results of a mechanical failure can be catastrophic.

Multiple parties may be liable if a mechanical failure leads to a trucking accident. Our West Virginia truck accident lawyers will inspect the rig, review maintenance logs, and more to identify all of the at-fault parties.

Overloading and Improper Loading

Large trucks carry tens of thousands of pounds of cargo. However, semis have their limits both physically and legally.

West Virginia Code § 17C-17-9A sets the maximum gross weight for a tractor-trailer at 80,000 pounds. If the overloading or improper placement or securement of cargo causes a truck accident, multiple parties (including the trucking company, the company responsible for loading the truck, and more) may be responsible.

Contact Our West Virginia Truck Accident Attorneys

The tractor trailer accident attorneys at Colombo Law represent clients throughout West Virginia. Our firm offers free initial consultations on tractor trailer accident cases.

If you or a family member has been injured in a tractor trailer crash, please contact our tractor trailer accident lawyers for a free initial consultation. Our attorneys can be reached at 304-599-4229, or by e-mail.