Charleston Personal Injury Law Blog

The concept of negligence in auto accidents

Negligence is an essential concept in the personal injury laws of West Virginia, as in every other state, and it refers to the failure of someone to exercise reasonable care toward others. In the case of auto accidents, it would be the failure of drivers to look out for other drivers as well as for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.

There are many forms of negligence. For example, drivers may break traffic laws by speeding, failing to signal a lane change and running red lights. They may not consider road conditions. On icy or snowy roads, for example, it could be considered negligent even to follow the speed limit. Drivers may also fail to hold to a reasonable following distance.

How truck drivers can avoid jackknifing

Large truck accidents are all too common in West Virginia, and many of these accidents involve jackknifing, which is when the truck folds in on itself. Jackknifing is preventable; it's simply that truckers may be inexperienced and not follow certain safety guidelines. Below are a few tips that truckers should follow to avoid jackknifing.

It all starts with checking one's mirrors frequently for trailer swing. There are two forms of jackknifing to watch for: trailer jackknifing, where the trailer wheels lose traction, and tractor jackknifing, which involves the tractor wheels. The former can arise during braking while the latter can be caused by sudden acceleration. The obvious thing to do, then, is to let up either on the brake or on the gas pedal.

How property owners can protect their business and visitors

Property owners in West Virginia can be held responsible for personal injuries that range from someone being bitten by a dog to someone tripping over a wire or getting hurt on a broken piece of furniture. Property owners have the responsibility to protect their employees and visitors. They also want to protect their business. Both things can be accomplished by following these tips.

Many property owners have benefited by hiring onsite security. A dependable and trustworthy security presence that is outsourced may be more beneficial than hiring staff members who will serve as security staff. Usually, these companies are going to offer superior optics for the premises. They will also carry general liability insurance. In addition, everyone who works at the business will be able to focus on the services and products provided by it as opposed to focusing on securing the property.

Opioids may be causing many fatal two-car crashes

Drivers in West Virginia probably don't need to be told about the danger that opioid use can pose on the road. Opioids impair one's movements and cognition, and this can lead to drowsy and inattentive driving. Unfortunately, more drivers who cause crashes are being found with opioids in their system. In 2016, the percentage of such drivers was 7.1% whereas in 1993, it was only 2%.

A study published in JAMA Network Open found some additional data that has proven to be interesting. Researchers linked opioid use to hundreds of fatal two-car crashes, but they did not say explicitly that opioid use caused these crashes. Still, after analyzing thousands of fatal two-car crashes and focusing on 1,467 drivers involved who tested positive for opioids, researchers discovered that 918 were crash initiators. The remaining 549 were not to blame for the crash they were in.

IIHS to upgrade its side crash testing

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has reported that it is developing a new and upgraded crash test focusing on the effects of side crashes. West Virginia drivers should know that this test will likely be launched in 2020. The updates to the side testing include a higher impact speed and a heavier movable barrier.

The nonprofit institute has been performing side crash tests since 2003. Thanks to the use of movable barriers that mimic the height and shape of vehicles' front ends, the tests have played a crucial role in the improvement of occupant protection. In particular, automakers began to install head-protecting side airbags and strengthen the side structures of their vehicles to pass the test. This was before such improvements became the subject of a federal regulation.

Motorcycle accidents are often caused by driver error

In West Virginia and all over the country, motorcycle accidents claim thousands of lives annually with many of them being caused by distracted or inattentive passenger vehicle drivers. One of the most common kind of fatal motorcycle accident occurs when a car, pickup truck or SUV makes a left turn directly into the path of an approaching rider. Passenger vehicle drivers who kill or catastrophically injure motorcyclists in such collisions usually say that they did not see the rider, or they saw the rider but misjudged their speed.

Passenger vehicles traveling in the same direction as motorcycles can be equally as dangerous to riders. Drivers who change lanes without signaling or check their mirrors can knock a rider off their motorcycle and leave them sprawling in the roadway to be struck by oncoming vehicles. Those who are lucky enough to avoid such a fate can suffer a serious head or brain injury even if they are wearing a DOT-approved helmet. This is why motorcycle instructors advise riders to assume that they are invisible to car drivers.

The catastrophic cost of truck accidents

Most West Virginia motorists realize that commercial truck accidents have the potential to be a lot more dangerous than passenger vehicle crashes. This is due in part to the size difference between an 18-wheeler and a passenger vehicle. Most passenger cars are going to weigh around 4,000 pounds. An 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Understandably, truck accidents can lead to injury and death. While it's possible for the truck driver to get injured, more times than not, it's the individual in the passenger vehicle who is hurt the worst.

Because of the size of the vehicles they are operating, truck drivers need to be more responsible when on the road. But they are human like everyone else and can make mistakes. Some truck drivers are on the road for many hours and find themselves driving while drowsy. Others drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, are distracted by cellular phones or drive recklessly in an attempt to meet deadlines.

Understanding the factors behind distracted driving

Distracted driving is a problem on many roads in West Virginia and throughout the country. It's estimated that about nine people die in accidents that were caused by distracted drivers each day in the U.S., and approximately 100 individuals are injured in accidents involving distracted drivers daily. The financial impact of distracted drivers on society is around $40 million annually. This puts distracted driving almost on par financially with the impact caused by those who drive under the influence.

The problem of distracted driving has been addressed from a number of angles. Public service announcements and education campaigns targeted at teenage drivers and adults alike strive to drive home the seriousness of driving while distracted. Highways are full of signs reminding drivers to not text and drive or talk on their cellphone while they drive.

"Beehive Theory" may explain how TBIs cause brain damage

A report published in the journal Medical Hypotheses has posited a theory explaining how head trauma incurred years earlier leads to a deterioration in brain functions. West Virginia residents should know that it is called the "Beehive Theory". According to this theory, a traumatic brain injury can dislodge certain microbes that lie dormant in the brain like bees in a hive.

These microbes, which are present even in normal brains, release toxins and antigens that subsequently cause brain inflammation and brain damage. With these come the cognitive impairment and behavioral changes that are characteristic of late-stage head trauma. Many TBI victims suffer depression and commit suicide.

Prevent winter car accidents with these tips

Ice, winter storms and poor road conditions lead to over 2,000 road fatalities in West Virginia and across the United States each year. Staying safe on the roads during winter means preparation and vigilance while driving.

During winter storms, it is best to stay in and avoid the roads if possible. During a storm, snow and winds lower visibility. This greatly increases the chance of a car crash occurring. Drivers who need to go out during a storm should take precautions. It's recommended to attach snow chains to tires when icy roads are an issue. Drivers should check the wiper blade for wear and tear and replace them if necessary. Wiper fluid should regularly be added to the car and should be rated for -30 degrees Fahrenheit.

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