West Virginia Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawyer
West Virginia is among the top 10 worst states for fatal tractor-trailer or semi-truck crashes in the country. Semi-trucks are massive machines that, while necessary to the state and national economy, pose a danger to other drivers on the road at the best of times. Due to their sheer size, large truck accidents are much more likely to be fatal than typical auto accidents. Moreover, tractor-trailers are often hauling either large equipment which can turn into deadly flying debris or toxic chemicals that can create additional road obstacles in the event of an accident. If large trucks are operated negligently, either due to overworked truckers pushing through fatigue or to cost-cutting trucking companies that fail to implement proper safety standards and equipment, then those trucks become deadly hazards on West Virginia roadways.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in an accident involving a tractor-trailer in West Virginia, contact our dedicated and effective tractor-trailer accident law firm for a free consultation on your legal options.
Semi-Truck Crashes, Especially Fatal Crashes, Are on the Rise Nationally and in West Virginia
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 450,000 large truck crashes reported across the country in 2017. Of those crashes, 4,237 involved fatalities. Fatal accidents involving large trucks have been on the rise since 2009: The 2017 figures represent a 40% increase from the 3,432 fatal crashes in 2009 and a 10% increase from 2016. The injury crash numbers are even more astounding: There were 107,000 injury crashes nationwide involving large trucks in 2017, nearly double the 2009 total.
In West Virginia, 52 people were killed in large truck accidents in 2017, which is twice as many fatalities as the 27 killed in 2016. While that figure may seem small, West Virginia also has a smaller population as well as fewer trucks and truck miles driven than most other states; West Virginia therefore has a higher rate of crashes-per-mile-driven and fatalities-per-million-people than most other states. In 2017, West Virginia counted 21.05 fatal crashes per million people, making it the eighth most dangerous state in terms of fatal truck crashes as compared to state population.
Common Causes of Semi-Truck Crashes
Accidents involving tractor-trailers can be caused by any number of factors, many of which are the same factors that lead to other auto crashes. But some factors are more prevalent among large truck crashes, which are exacerbated by unsafe practices in the trucking industry as well as passenger vehicles failing to appreciate the additional dangers posed by large trucks and their limitations. Some of the more common causes of tractor-trailer crashes include:
- Driver fatigue caused by excessive driving hours
- Failure of safety equipment or failure to install updated safety equipment
- Drug or alcohol use
- Aggressive driving or maneuvering
- Excessive speed
- Failure to take precaution during inclement weather or road conditions
- Distracted driving, such as texting or emailing while driving
- Driver negligence, such as failure to check blind spots, failure to signal, turning too wide or too fast
- Inadequate driver training or screening by employer
- Mistakes by a passenger car driver such as following a truck too closely or sitting in the truck’s blind spot
Truck Accidents Are More Dangerous Than Typical Car Accidents
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), large trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times as much as passenger vehicles. Their large size will compound the dangers of any given traffic accident, and the materials being hauled can create additional hazards in the event of an accident. The danger is much greater to those outside the truck: Over 82% of the people killed in large truck accidents in 2017 were other vehicle occupants or pedestrians. Only 17% of the fatalities were occupants of the trucks.
Help Is Available For Tractor-Trailer Accident Injuries In West Virginia
For dependable, professional, and knowledgeable legal help after a West Virginia tractor-trailer accident, contact the Martinsburg law firm Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson for a free consultation on your case at 304-263-0900 or 304-LAWYERS.