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Nitro Legal Blog

How truck accident victims can settle out of court

In West Virginia, as in every other state, the victim of a truck accident can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, or more specifically the company that hired the driver. The litigation process is often prolonged and costly, however, which is why many victims instead try for a settlement out of court. This can be done through alternative dispute resolution methods like negotiations, mediation and arbitration.

Not only does ADR save time and money, but it also allows for a confidential environment where amicable agreements are possible. Both sides can be more candid and less defensive with each other as they present their views of the case. Furthermore, neither side will be forced into making any admissions of fault. While arbitration is a binding process that takes the place of litigation, mediation and negotiations are both non-binding and can occur at the same time that a case is going through civil court.

Using a cell phone while driving is a recipe for disaster

Let's say you're driving down a West Virginia highway and your cellphone rings. It's not just any ring either; it's the one you customized for your mother, who recently had major surgery and is recovering at home. What if she needs something?

Perhaps you think you've found a legitimate compromise by putting your phone on speaker so you don't have to hold it while you're driving. Reaching down quickly to grab and answer it won’t really “distract” you from the road, right?

International Roadcheck set for June

Every year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance operates a three-day enforcement ramp-up of tractor trailer regulations across West Virginia and the entire United States. The 2018 event, known as International Roadcheck, has been scheduled for June 5 through 7.

The focus of this year's International Roadcheck will be hours-of-service regulation compliance. This focus is due in part to recent changes in the Department of Transportation's recent electronic logging device mandate. In addition, the top reason for placing drivers out of service in 2017 was violations of the hours-of-service regulations.

About FELA claims

Railroad workers in West Virginia and the rest of the country have certain protections under the Federal Employers Liability Act in the event they are injured while performing their job duties. The steps they take immediately following their workplace injuries can impact their rights and claims under FELA.

The injury should be reported as soon as possible to the worker's supervisor. The worker should also fill out an injury report form if their injuries allow them to. When completing the form, accuracy and details should be used when addressing the injuries as the form is likely to have a significant role in the later stages of the FELA claim. Information such as the conditions, causes and factors the workers believes contributed to the accident should be included.

AAA Foundation says distracted driving is a serious issue

Some West Virginia motorists might be engaging in distracting behaviors while behind the wheel even if they disapprove of them. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found in a survey that almost 50 percent more drivers said they talked on a cellphone fairly often or regularly while they were driving compared to those who were asked a similar question in a 2013 survey. However, even though almost half said they had used handheld phones, more than half said they believed talking on the phone while driving was a serious safety issue.

More than one-third of the people who were survey said they had sent an email or text while driving, and almost 45 percent reported reading one. Despite this, nearly 80 percent said they believed texting and driving was dangerous. They said they believed there was more distracted driving happening compared to three years ago. However, only around 40 percent of people said they believed there should be a ban on all cell phone use while driving.

Driver error most common cause of truck crashes

West Virginia motorists share their roads with thousands of commercial trucks every day. There are roughly 15 million big trucks in regular use on American roads, and 70 percent of all freight transported in the United States makes at least some portion of its journey by truck. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and traveling adjacent to one puts regular commuters in passenger vehicles at risk due to the enormous disparity in size and weight.

In the last decade, the number of commercial truck accidents in the United States has increased by 20 percent. A recent study examined data from 120,000 truck accidents to ascertain the most common causes of big truck crashes. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) was a joint project of the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The latter is responsible for promulgating safety regulations for all large commercial vehicles used for interstate commerce while the former deals with all categories of highway safety.

What if I cannot return to work after a car accident?

West Virginia car accident victims know that a collision can change many areas of their lives. Some victims find they are able to recover quickly and move on, but some accident injuries can be severe enough to have a permanent impact on a person's life. In fact, you may find you are unable to return to work or hold gainful employment after the accident.

If your car accident left you disabled, you could have a right to seek disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. Even with a valid disabling condition or illness, it can still be quite difficult to secure rightful financial support. If your accident injuries are permanent and disabling, you have no time to lose in learning more about your potential claim.

How slips and falls can occur indoors

Property owners in West Virginia and throughout the country are required to take steps to remedy issues that can result in an accident on their premises. If steps are not taken, they may be liable for damages a slip-and-fall victim may incur. Such accidents that occur indoors may be caused by wet or otherwise slippery floors. Floors could be dangerous if too much wax is applied or it is applied in an uneven fashion.

At a minimum, a property owner may need to post a sign warning an individual that a floor is wet or close off the wet area entirely. If floors are treated with a slippery substance or not treated evenly, that may also result in a person falling. Stairs can also create dangerous conditions that could lead to a fall. For example, a stairwell could be missing a railing or be covered by debris.

Common factors in commercial truck accidents

The past 10 years have seen an estimated 20 percent increase in commercial truck accidents in West Virginia and the rest of the U.S. This is an alarming figure, considering how there are more than 15 million commercial trucks on America's roads. The recent Large Truck Crash Causation Study has shown that the majority of accidents are caused by truck driver negligence.

The study was the result of collaboration between the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Researchers examined data from 120,000 crashes taken from a span of 33 months. They found that almost 75 percent of these crashes involved one other vehicle.

Sleep apnea testing regulations challenged in court

Crashes involving 18-wheelers and semi trucks can be the cause of severe personal injuries, major property damage and even death. In some cases, such accidents in West Virginia are caused by truck driver fatigue. Sleep apnea poses a particular risk when truckers are undiagnosed as the condition can make it difficult to have a restful night's sleep.

Because of the danger posed by truck accidents, the government has sought regulations to require commercial drivers to be tested for sleep apnea. However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is pursuing a lawsuit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration over regulations pertaining to sleep apnea testing during required physical exams for truck drivers. OOIDA's case argues that the rules violate a 2013 law requiring the federal agency to complete a full rulemaking process with public comment before issuing new sleep apnea testing regulations.

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