Car accidents are said to be the leading cause of death in the United States, and are a serious problem in West Virginia. Car accidents are most common on Interstate Highways 79 and 68, but have been noted in other counties as well, such as Routes 19 and 50 in Harrison County. At best, car and truck accidents result in minor scrapes, or serious injuries that are not life threatening. At worst, they can be tragedies — especially when they happen to young people.
Not long ago, one teen died and 10 were injured after a truck accident in Clay County. The accident occurred at four in the morning on Route 36; the 18-year old driver of a Ford F-150 truck lost control and the truck veered across the road, struck a guardrail, went over an embankment, and struck a tree next to a creek. Prior to the accident, the truck was carrying 11 passengers: six in the cab of the truck and five in the bed. The five in back were ejected. An Air National Guard member who ran out to help found them scattered around the immediate area, including one person in the creek, one on the embankment, and one pinned underneath the truck. The unfortunate 17-year old who was pinned ended up dying from her injuries.
The exact cause of the accident is unknown, but there are some signs that it could be drug and/or alcohol related. A small amount of marijuana was found in the cab of the truck, and the young driver has had trouble with the law in the past. However, toxicology tests would need to be done to determine whether the driver was under the influence.
Driving a vehicle is a serious responsibility. Drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care, not just for the sake of passengers, but also for other drivers sharing the road. When another party is injured or killed by the driver, the injured party (or estate of the deceased party) may file a lawsuit. In either case, the arguments would be the same: the driver had a duty of reasonable care; the driver breached that duty by acting unreasonably, whether by driving under the influence, driving while distracted (such as on a cell phone), or by simply engaging in reckless behavior, such as driving far above the speed limit; as a result of the breach, the other party was injured; and as a result of the injuries, the other party died or suffered damage.
Whether the driver is found liable depends not only on what he was doing but also on what the injured party was doing. If the driver hit the injured party’s car by changing lanes, but the injured party was speeding, it is possible that the driver would not be considered liable for the injuries. West Virginia has a liability system known as modified comparative negligence. Under this system, if the injured party were 50% or more at fault, the driver would not be liable. If you were injured in a car accident and think the other driver was liable, contact an experienced West Virginia car accident attorney to learn about possible remedies.