- Preservation of evidence is key. Trucking companies are prepared for accidents. It is part of their business model. A truck owner is likely to have investigators (and even attorneys) on the scene before the police have a chance to clear the accident wreckage. It is during this critical period that evidence may be lost or destroyed before the victim even has a chance to review it.
- Multiple parties may be liable for damages. Most truck drivers do not own their vehicles. They are often employees or independent contractors for trucking companies. In addition, the cargo itself may belong to a different company. And if the accident was the result of mechanical failure, any number of parts manufacturers may be responsible for at least some of your injuries.
- Driver Negligence Can Take Many Forms. As with any traffic accident, a truck driver who fails to obey the rules of the road or operates his or her vehicle under the influence of alcohol is considered per se negligent in West Virginia. But with commercial truckers, one also needs to consider negligence arising from driving too long without adequate rest breaks. And in some cases, drivers may not have received proper training on how to safely handle their vehicles.
- Carefully Scrutinize Trucking Company Records. All trucking companies have written policies governing maintenance and safety practices. Of course, having a policy is one thing; following it is something different. It is important to compare the letter of a company's policies with its actual behavior. It is not uncommon in West Virginia commercial truck accident cases for a company to falsify or “misplace” records. This again is where having a West Virginia personal injury attorney who is skilled and knowledgeable in handling 18-wheeler accident cases can prove invaluable.
Hell on 18 Wheels: Crashes Involving Semi-Trucks
How to build a case if you were in an accident with a commercial vehicle in West Virginia
By S.M. Oliva
Victims are often pressured by the trucking companies—and their insurance companies—to accept a quick payout before all the facts are known. Of course, you should always consult with a qualified West Virginia personal injury lawyer before agreeing to any settlement.