Car Accidents in West Virginia
Car accidents are a common occurrence that can include both property and bodily damage depending on the severity and can lead to life-altering injuries that require costly medical care. When involved in a car accident in West Virginia, most people do the right thing. They check on each other, exchange information, and honestly report the accident to their insurance companies.
Others, however, don’t follow the typical protocol after an accident. They might try to shift blame if they caused the accident or argue that they are more injured than they truly are. Some made even try to flee after an accident to in an effort to escape responsibility for the accident at all.
These negligent and reckless drivers cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages every year to West Virginia drivers who do follow the rules of the law. If a car crash happens to you, an experienced automobile accident attorney can make sure that your rights are protected and you don’t have to deal directly with the other driver’s lawyer and insurance company.
Nearly every American will experience being involved in a car accident by the time they’re 34 years of age. While many of these accidents are quickly resolved and the responsible party admits blame, not everyone is so lucky. Sometimes, the driver that caused the accident will try to deny responsibility and their insurance company may decline to pay for the damages and medical treatment that their insured customer caused you and try to shift the blame. That is when you need to have a qualified and knowledgeable personal injury attorney representing your best interests. When faced with this type of legal hurdle, some West Virginian’s decide not to file a claim for their damages because they don’t understand their rights. This may seem like a straightforward and easy decision to make following an injury accident but if you make the wrong decisions, it could end up costing you thousands of dollars in repairs and medical bills.
You have a right to compensation if you have been injured in an accident due to the reckless behavior of another driver. Don’t pay for their mistakes. Contact us at Katz Kantor Stonestreet & Buckner, PLLC.
When to Contact an Attorney
If you’ve been involved in an accident that is not your fault and are unsure about filing a claim with your insurance company, it’s in your best interest to talk to a West Virginia car accident attorney before talking to an insurance company. At Katz Kantor Stonestreet & Buckner, PLLC, our attorneys are ready to talk to you about your accident and advise you on what your next steps should be.
If you want to pursue a claim, we can help represent you in your case. These situations can be difficult, frustrating, and extremely stressful, especially as you try to focus on your recovery and returning to your normal life. If you want someone who has your best interest in mind at all times you need to contact our team of experienced Princeton attorneys today!
Rates of Car Accidents in West Virginia
West Virginia leads the country in fatal car accidents across the United States. The majority of these deaths occur along both the state’s mountainous and rural roads. These dangerous roads ensure that no one is entirely safe from a catastrophic and potentially fatal car accident. With the state’s varying terrain and weather patterns, West Virginia currently has the most fatal car accidents in this country.
The high rate of fatal car accidents in West Virginia is due in part to both human error and road conditions.
Mountain roads are often not well cared for by the state, and so many of them become difficult to drive on due to their poor condition. Mountain roads can often be narrow, windy and uncared for. The correct warning signs regarding safe speeds and sharp turns may not always be present, and blind turns put drivers and pedestrians at risk of damage and severe injuries.
Rural roads are not safe either. Rural roads in West Virginia can be just as damaged and uncared for as mountainous ones, placing drivers in a potentially hazardous situation. If your car accident was caused by the city’s or the county’s negligence, they are not excused from responsibility. The state has a duty to its citizens to provide safe and usable roads. When they fail in this duty, and their carelessness causes an accident, they can be held accountable for the damages and injuries suffered in the car crash.
While the conditions and designs of the roads can contribute to accidents, human error is often the primary cause of car accidents across West Virginia. Drinking and driving, driving while distracted, and simply not paying active attention all contributed to the deaths of 20.56 people for every 100,000 West Virginia residents. This rate is far above the national average of 12.38 per 100,000 and only seems to be worsening as more and more people are injured and killed in car accidents in West Virginia every year.
This trend of exceeding the national average extends to deaths per vehicle miles traveled as well (VMT). For every 100 million miles traveled, 1.89 deaths were recorded across our state. The national average is only 1.27.
Car accident fatalities affect everyone across the state though there are places that are statistically more dangerous. For those living in these counties, the chances of being in a severe car accident are higher and greater care should be taken by those traveling in these counties. The West Virginia counties with the most fatalities per accident are:
- Kanawha County (9.6%)
- Raleigh County (4.8%)
- Mercer County (4.4%)
- Cabell County (4.2%)
- Harrison County (4.2%)
- Berkeley County (3.6%)
- Jefferson County (3.6%)
- Jackson County (3.4%)
- Preston County (3.0%)
- Monongalia,County (2.8%)
While distracted driving plays a significant role in national car accident deaths, causing 11.1% nationally, it accounts for only 4.6% of West Virginia fatal crashes. As the most common form of distraction amongst drivers, the rate of cell phone use in fatal car crashes ties at 23.1% along with the rate of drivers eating, drinking, and smoking while driving. Even though West Virginia is below the national average, hundreds of people are affected by these accidents every year, and too many friends and families lose loved ones who may have otherwise avoided a fatal car wreck.
Types of West Virginia Car Accidents
Catastrophic car wrecks in West Virginia can lead to permanent injuries and a lifetime of medical care. Though any car accident can cause a severe injury or fatality, roadway departures, single-vehicle crashes, speeding, rollovers, intersection-related crashes, and large trucks accidents are the leading causes of fatalities in the state.
Distracted driving contributes to the number of West Virginia car crashes, but it is vastly outdone by DUI or DWI accidents that take the lives of hundreds of people in our state every year.
Understanding where you’re more likely to be in a fatal car accident is not the same thing as knowing where the majority of fatal car crashes happen. While the previous list covers the rate of deaths per automobile accidents, the following counties suffer the most deaths overall. Traffic congestion, poor road maintenance, and reckless driving all drastically increased the number of fatal car crashes in these counties.
The top 10 West Virginia counties for car accident fatalities are:
- Kanawha County
- Berkeley County
- Harrison County
- Wood County
- Mercer County
- Wayne County
- Jefferson County
- Lincoln County
- Cabell County
- McDowell County
Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in West Virginia
While no one wants to be in a car accident, they do happen. From running a red light to going 80mphon the freeway, the actions that cause a car accident are as limitless as the kinds of injuries a victim can suffer following one.
Some common causes of car accidents include:
Speeding: Speeding is an issue that plagues every state, but it can be particularly dangerous in West Virginia when driving through and around mountains. If someone is speeding, they cannot react accordingly to the changes in the road direction which may cause them to collide with another vehicle or travel off the road.
While speeding, they also do not have adequate time to react to what others are doing safely. If they are traveling above the speed limit and encounter an unexpected car coming around a corner, they might cause an accident in which themselves and the other driver might be hurt. By following all speed signs and driving at a speed that is best suited to the conditions at the time, all drivers can help to prevent potentially deadly car accidents
Failing to Yield: Yield signs are often viewed as more of a suggestion than a requirement. A yield sign is not a stop sign, but rather a sign letting you know that others have the right of way on a road you are about to enter. When coming to a yield sign, all drivers are supposed to look and make sure they are not about to impede someone else’s path. For many drivers, they see this sign and think it means they can enter the road whenever they wish and force their way into the flow of traffic.
When this happens, other drivers who have the right of way must either slam on their breaks or will swerve to avoid those who ignore these signs. This sudden hazard can cause T-bone accidents, fender benders, and other types of car accidents. If you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by someone neglecting the rules of the road, you have a right to legal compensation.
Fender Bender: Rear-end accidents occur every day. Often they happen because someone is not paying attention and begins to move their vehicle even though the vehicle before them has not begun moving forward. People also cause rear-end collisions because they are following too closely to the car ahead of them, and cannot break in time to avoid hitting the other car if they have to stop suddenly because of traffic or another hazard. These accidents can often be prevented by avoiding distraction and by allowing enough defensive driving space to exist between the two vehicles.
Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is an ongoing and worsening problem, not only in West Virginia but across the states. As we become more dependent and attached to our devices, we’re more likely to use them while we drive, but cell phones aren’t the only source of distracted driving.
Using your cell phone while driving, trying to eat a meal, applying makeup, adjusting the radio for long periods, trying to look at papers or a book, and looking at anything that isn’t the road while your vehicle is in motion are all common causes of distracted driving in West Virginia.
Not Understanding the Road Laws: Many people know the ordinary laws of the road, but there are many uncommon laws that drivers may not be aware of that help to prevent accident and injury. For example, if a mountain road is too narrow for two cars to travel on, and two cars meet going opposite directions, does the car going uphill back down the hill or does the car going downhill reverse back uphill? According to West Virginia law, the car going downhill must reverse back up the mountain until the car going uphill can get by.
This lack of a universal knowledge regarding the rules of the road can cause confusion when placed into these moments and cause drivers to behave in ways that put them in danger. To ensure your safety and others, you should always refer to the rules of the road and make sure you know exactly what to do to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Most Common Types of Car Accident Injuries
As the rates of dangerous and fatal car wrecks continue to rise across counties in West Virginia, more and more people suffer from a wide range of car accident injuries. From mild scrapes and bruises to permanent brain damage and death, even the smallest wreck can have devastating consequences. When you are involved in a car accident, you may suffer one or more of these injuries:
Head and Back Injuries: If the collision was strong enough, a passenger in a vehicle might experience a head injury due to being jostled around the car. A head injury can come from hitting the window next to you, the steering wheel, the airbag, or another passenger in the car. Depending on the force of the collision, these can result in only some mild bruising and a headache, or they may cause long-term brain damage that may take a lifetime to heal from. Back injuries occur when the back is twisted or pulled due to the impact or other forces during the wreck. These injuries often occur in the same way as a neck injury and can leave the victim paralyzed.
Neck and Chest Injuries: The most common neck injury is whiplash. Whiplash occurs when the head is twisted and bent, straining the muscles in the vertebrae. This injury usually dissipates within a few hours or days, but it can also last for months or years in severe situations. Symptoms of whiplash include pain, headaches, and a stiff neck. Chest injuries typically occur when the seatbelt restrains the occupant during a crash and, by preventing severe injury, damages to the victim’s chest bones and tissue. The pressure from a seatbelt during a car wreck can cause bruising, fractured or broken ribs, and internal damage.
Injuries Involving Extremities: Hands, arms, legs, and feet are all subject to injury as well and are often one of the first places to be hurt. Arms and hands can be broken due to impact injuries with the inside of the car, the collision between the other vehicle and the victim’s arm and hand that was outside the car at the time of the accident, or due to rolling the car. Legs and feet are usually injured because the front of the car has been damaged and potentially pinned or crushed the victim’s lower half.
PTSD: Many drivers encounter PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) as they recover from an accident. While suffering from car accident-related PTSD victims of accidents might avoid driving and the area or city where their accident happened, buy a different car that they feel more protected within, or suffer extreme anxiety while driving. For many, these feelings will diminish with time. For others, it is something they may need to seek therapy for to truly and fully recover from.
West Virginia Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases
Most legal action faces what’s called a statute of limitations, which means that you can only pursue legal action for a limited amount of time. After that time is over, you cannot seek to file a claim for your injuries and damages. For personal injury cases, which are usually filed after incidents like car accidents, West Virginia allows you two years after your injury to file before you are no longer able to seek compensation for your injuries. Many people wait until they have all of their hospital bills and other medical bills in hand before they file, but this can severely limit your window of opportunity, especially if your injuries were substantial and required extensive medical attention. If you are in a car accident in West Virginia and want to file a claim for your damages, you have two years to do so with the help of a qualified car accident attorney.
West Virginia Car Accident Attorney
After a car accident, many people don’t know their rights and what can and can’t be covered in a personal injury or car accident claim. Insurance companies will contact you, insisting that you need to settle immediately to protect yourself and your compensation. However, the insurance company never has your best interest at heart, and they’ll always want you to settle for less than your injury is actually worth.
When you want to get justice but you don’t know where to start, a personal injury or car accident attorney from Katz Kantor Stonestreet & Buckner, PLLC can provide you the advice and insight you need. At the office of Katz Kantor Stonestreet & Buckner, PLLC, our highly trained and qualified lawyers are ready to review your case and help you understand what your next steps are in securing what you’re legally owed after a car crash in West Virginia.
We will look through your case, determine what you are entitled to, advise you on what you should file for, and protect your rights while your case is in court. If you have been in a West Virginia car accident that wasn’t your fault and you want to know what your next step is, call us today at (304) – 431 – 4050. We’re standing by waiting to help you today!