Truck accidents often result in catastrophic damages, and the injured party may look to hold the trucking company responsible. Before the company or its insurer rushes to pay out a claim, it is important to investigate the claim and determine whether to fight it. An experienced WV commercial truck accident defense attorney can be invaluable when businesses need to perform a WV commercial trucking accident investigation.
With the help of an attorney, trucking companies can collect essential information to begin a trucking accident investigation. This information can help determine each party’s fault in the accident and how and to whom liability for damages should be apportioned.
Common Steps in a WV Commercial Trucking Accident Investigation
While no two cases are the same, every WV commercial trucking accident investigation digs into the basis of the plaintiff’s claim to determine where liability falls in all cases by collecting evidence regarding the accident. The first step in investigating an accident claim involves determining how the accident arose and who is responsible. A WV commercial truck accident defense attorney helps trucking businesses identify, collect and evaluate the evidence needed to determine liability and, thereby manage the business’s risk.
Typical Types of Evidence Collected in Commercial Truck Accident Investigations
The starting point of an investigation of WV trucking accidents includes collecting preliminary information, including photographs, police reports and identities of potential witnesses. In the police report, a defense attorney can get a feel for how the accident arose and each party’s potential liability.
Photographs from the scene of the accident can be very revealing. Photographs of vehicle damage and marks on the road may indicate which vehicle caused the collision and clarify the cause or causes of the accident.
Most modern vehicles and commercial trucks have a black box installed. These black boxes contain information such as how fast the vehicle in which it was installed was traveling, sudden movements and braking patterns. In some cases, black box information can reveal whether the driver of each vehicle contributed to the crash.
Truck drivers, trucking companies and insurers may benefit from hiring a crash expert to help with the investigation of WV commercial trucking accidents. These experts can analyze the information collected and reconstruct the accident, including each driver’s actions. This ultimately can indicate who is at fault for the accident and prove the liability of each party.
WV Commercial Trucking Accident Investigation: Proving Liability of the Parties
Pursuant to WV Code § 55-7-13a, West Virginia is a comparative fault state. Comparative fault is a legal principle that allows each party to the accident to be allocated fault. An investigation of the accident enables the defendant to prove that one or more other parties, including the plaintiff, should assume or share in the liability. With the help of an experienced attorney, a commercial trucking company can avoid or mitigate its liability by proving the fault of the plaintiff, another party to the case or even a non-party under WV Code § 55-7-13d.
Under WV Code § 55-7-13c, each party or non-party is responsible for a percentage of the damages awarded to the plaintiff in proportion to their liability. However, a plaintiff determined to be more than 50 percent responsible for the accident cannot collect compensation from other parties involved in the accident.
As such, an investigation that shows other parties are responsible for the accident allows a party to put the liability for damages, or a share of it, on another party. For help demonstrating the fault of another party in a trucking accident, contact an experienced WV commercial truck accident defense attorney.
WV Commercial Trucking Accident Investigations Are Not Limited to Collisions
While many believe a trucking company is liable because of its driver’s actions on the road, there are other reasons a company may be responsible for damages arising from an accident. A trucking company can also be liable for injuries or losses caused by the following:
- Negligent hiring
- Failure to inspect and repair their trucks
- Ordering drivers to operate for long periods without rest
- Driver error behind the wheel
As a result, investigation of WV trucking accidents is not limited to inspecting the scene of an accident. A WV commercial truck accident defense attorney can also review and audit a company’s hiring practices, inspection routine and compliance with laws and regulations. The investigation may support the company’s defense or reveal errors that can be corrected to prevent future claims.
The Statute of Limitations Can Prevent Plaintiffs from Recovering Damages
West Virginia allows the plaintiff two years from the date of an accident to file a claim. Failure to bring a claim within this timeframe prevents the plaintiff from recovering compensatory damages, which are defined in WV Code § 55-7-13b. An investigation into the crash will reveal whether the plaintiff brought a claim on time. A plaintiff’s failure to assert a timely claim is a complete bar to recovery but only if the defendant realizes the lapse and argues the same to the court.
Contact a WV Commercial Truck Accident Defense Attorney
Having a truck accident defense attorney assist with a WV commercial trucking accident investigation can be integral to reducing exposure for damages. M. Andrew Brison at The Law Office of M. Andrew Brison, PLLC. is an experienced WV commercial truck accident defense attorney who protects your interests through the investigation, negotiation and litigation of serious trucking accident claims and lawsuits to minimize damages for trucking companies and insurers. Call us at 304-397-8225 or complete this online contact form for more information.