According to the Institute for Safer Trucking, there were 5,505 fatal truck crashes across all 50 states in 2019. Of the crashes between a truck and a car, 96% of the fatalities were the people in the car. In West Virginia, 68% of fatal truck accidents in 2019 involved two or more vehicles. If you were injured in a road accident in West Virginia by an oil and gas industry truck, you will want a West Virginia oil and gas accident lawyer to represent your best interests.
Common Types of Injuries From Oil and Gas Accidents
In addition to serious property damage, oil and gas tanker trucks carry flammable materials that can explode on impact causing serious or fatal injuries to those involved in the crash. Personal injuries that occur in accidents between large oil and gas trucks may include:
- Serious burns from fires or chemical exposure
- Spinal injuries
- Brain injuries
- Broken or crushed bones
Those who work in the oil and gas industry may suffer from workplace accidents resulting in injury or wrongful death. Explosions, exposure to hazardous materials, and drilling accidents are unfortunate byproducts of this industry.
What Does the Law Mean by Negligence?
If you sustain a personal injury due to someone else’s actions, or from a person’s failure to act, then you may have a liability claim for negligence against that person.
The law says that negligence is the failure to act toward another person with the level of care that a prudent person would use under the same set of circumstances. You can think of negligence this way:
- The defendant had a duty;
- The defendant breached that duty;
- The defendant’s breach of duty was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries; and
- The plaintiff suffered harm (damages) as a result.
The law recognizes two types of negligence common in vehicular negligence cases:
- Contributory negligence, which bars a plaintiff from recovering damages if the plaintiff was in any way responsible for his injuries; and
- Comparative negligence, which allocates responsibility between the parties when both parties bear some fault.
What Negligence Rule Does West Virginia Follow?
West Virginia has adopted a modified comparative negligence rule in personal injury cases. Under the modified comparative negligence rule, a person cannot recover damages if they are more than 50% responsible for their own injuries. If the injured person is less than 50% responsible, then they are allowed to recover compensation, but the damages are reduced by the percentage of their negligence.
With respect to car accidents, West Virginia does not have a “no-fault” law as other states do.
What Kind of Damages Can I Recover for Negligence? Ask a West Virginia Oil and Gas Accident Lawyer
In general, the award of damages in negligence cases means that a plaintiff may recover or receive a reimbursement for:
- Economic damages (also known as general damages)
- Non-economic damages (also known as special damages)
- Punitive damages, which are intended to punish the bad actor and discourage others from the same action/inaction
Under West Virginia law, economic damages include but are not limited to:
- Medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Household services
- Property damage
- Out-of-pocket expenses
Special damages in West Virginia include pain and suffering as well as mental anguish.
To learn the potential recovery of damages for your personal situation, consult an oil and gas trucking accident attorney. Make sure to save all your invoices for medical expenses, household services, property damage, and out-of-pocket expenses to show your attorney. Save documents that prove your lost wages. Have your medical doctor provide your medical history from the accident to help your attorney prove the magnitude of your injuries.
Does West Virginia Law Restrict the Time for Filing Lawsuits?
Yes. The laws in most states impose a time period that restricts a plaintiff’s ability to bring an action in court. These laws are known as statutes of limitations, and the limitation periods vary state by state.
In West Virginia, the statute of limitations for personal injury due to negligence is two years from the date of the injury. If a person dies as a result of negligence, a plaintiff may bring a wrongful death action within two years of the date of death.
Are There Other Limits on Recovery for Motor Vehicle Accidents?
Yes, if you want to recover from the other driver’s motor vehicle insurance carrier, the insurance carrier has set insurance policy coverage limits for their insured. For example, West Virginia’s minimum insurance policy coverage limits for personal automobile coverage is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury. Property damage liability is $25,000 per accident.
A commercial auto policy covers vehicles used primarily in business. The limitations will vary depending on the size of the fleet, types of trucks, and type of cargo. The policy limits will determine the recovery under the policy. An experienced West Virginia oil and gas car accidents lawyer can answer questions about commercial auto policy limits covered by your situation.
How to Strengthen Your Case
Whether your injury was the result of an incident on the job or a trucking accident, the first thing you need to do is seek medical attention. Even if you don’t think your injuries are very serious, you could have internal injuries that are masked by adrenaline that may not be immediately apparent to you. Additionally, having a record of your medical visits and treatment will strengthen your personal injury case.
Do not speak with the responsible party’s insurance until you have consulted a West Virginia oil and gas accident attorney. Insurance companies have one main goal in personal injury cases: minimizing their payouts to victims. Insurance adjusters can use your statements against you and may deny your claim.
Taking the Next Step: Consult a West Virginia Oil and Gas Accident Lawyer
The importance of the next step is critical. You want to select an attorney with years of experience in working in oil and gas trucking industry personal injury cases. That is true whether you are the driver or passenger injured in your personal car, or an oil and gas employee injured on the job. You want a West Virginia oil and gas accident lawyer who will represent you zealously. You want your attorney to pursue your best interests, not the interests of the insurance company. Contact us and let our skillful attorneys evaluate the facts of your case. We can guide you toward the next best steps for you.